The most important part of doing the inner work is learning how deal with being triggered.
HERE’S HOW TO START:
We all get emotionally triggered.
Being triggered is a natural part of being human.
Many of us are on autopilot, reacting to our triggers. Transformation happens when we learn to understand triggers and process them in a new way.
Our subconscious mind stores every experience we’ve had in life.
If you’re like me, and have few childhood memories, it doesn’t mean the memories don’t exist. It means, we can’t recall them. Our body remembers them.
When we’re triggered, we’re experiencing our emotional past in the present moment. Smells, sounds, facial expressions, social interactions, and people’s responses can all create triggers.
I am emotionally triggered when:
- I have a strong sensation in the body (racing heart, tight chest, feeling like I’m going to cry, feeling shut down)
- my thoughts become racing
- shame thoughts come up “I’m an idiot” “I never do anything right”
- I start chronically comparing myself to others
- I look for something to numb or distract me (food, social media, alcohol, drama cycles etc.)
- I feel helpless or trapped
- I dissociate (physically present but mentally gone)
- I get defensive
HOW TO UNDERSTAND YOUR TRIGGERS:
- LEARN HOW TO SELF WITNESS: self witnessing is the act of viewing yourself from a neutral place. Notice what you think, how you react to different situations, and what people bring up different emotions in you.
- NOTICE BODY SENSATIONS: the feelings and sensations in your body when we’re triggered can be intense. It’s helpful to name these sensations to ourselves to stay grounded during a trigger.
ex: “right now I feel my chest getting tight”
- PRACTICE THE PAUSE: we all have “go-to” coping mechanisms when we’re triggered. To create new responses we have to practice having them.
Ex: Your partner makes a comment that brings you back to a shame-based feeling you had as a child.
Instead of habit reacting (lashing out), practice the pause.
We do this by breathing and allowing the emotions and sensations to come up.
- GET CURIOUS: ask yourself: “why?”
Ex: You read a post on social media and instantly feel angry and shame comes up.
After practicing the pause, you take a deep breathe and ask yourself: “What about this has me responding so strongly?”
With consistent practice the answer will become more and more clear. You’ll also be able to see patterns of things that typically trigger you.
Ex: Any time you see someone post about their weight or body size you’re triggered because you were made fun of for your weight or physical appearance growing up.
- PRACTICE SELF SOOTHING:
Self soothing is how we regulate our nervous system and calm our body after a trigger.
Self soothing can look like: taking a quick walk, doing some deep belly breaths, journaling your emotions, playing music, or anything else that releases the emotional energy.
Understanding and working through your triggers creates more emotional resilience and empowerment
With consistent practice, you’ll be amazed at how differently you respond to the world around you.
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