How To Move Through Your Triggers With Ease
“The only way to heal is to feel” – Brene Brown
Have you been feeling overwhelmed and emotional more than usual lately? Is the World in general feeling like a reactive and hostile place? Are you struggling with over-anxious thoughts? If your answer is yes then I hope this blog serves to help you find peace and healing.
We all have emotional triggers. An trigger is an negative reaction in response to someone else’s behaviour or actions. This is sometimes due to the fact that our triggers remind us of past pain and trauma that still remains unhealed. It is like an open wound. A hurtful comment from a co-worker or relative is like the salt added to the wound, causing a stinging pain that we automatically react too out of fear and instinct.
But the good thing is our triggers are based on beliefs that are not real. It is just our mind and bodies way of defending us from the pain.
So in this blog I will share some steps and techniques to help you move through your triggers so that you can create greater emotional freedom and peace in your life.
1. Acknowledge Your Triggers
The first step on moving through your triggers is to acknowledge them. Notice what triggers you. Is it a harsh comment from a co-worker? Or a flippant remark from a family member about your relationship or parenting style? A good way to keep track of your triggers is through journalling. Identify and write down your top three emotional triggers that cause you the most pain.
Then notice where in your body you feel the trigger when it arises. Our emotions are often linked to a physical sensation so by understanding our reactions we can learn to deal with the physical sensation first and then the emotional. For instance, if your feeling upset you may notice a tightening in your chest or your muscles contracting or maybe pressure in your solar plexus or heart.
According to neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, author of Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain, your breathing rate, blood flow, muscle tension and constriction in your gut are all patterns that you can identify as a feeling. So once you identify the physical sensations you can become aware of any patterns.
Learning to just observe your triggers by writing them down and noticing how and why they maybe coming up for you is a key step in bringing healing to your triggers.
2. Understand The Root Of The Trigger
Our triggers can often be rooted in a past experience or trauma that has resulted in you feeling unsafe, unworthy and unloved. These experiences may have occurred during childhood, adolescence or adulthood as a result of our parents, siblings, teachers, friends, partners or anyone you may have encountered or had a negative experience with. Sometimes these traumas can be obvious such as verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse or it maybe less obvious, especially if it happened when you were a young child.
You can track the origin of your trigger by using a journal to explore deeper the root cause. For example, you may feel unworthy and unloved in your relationships resulting in you becoming closed off and distant. A partner may say something to you that created a triggered response thus causing you to further distance yourself. If you allow yourself to take a step back from the trigger as if you were an outsider looking in, you can pinpoint where this trigger came from. It may have been due to a comment from a parent that made you feel unloved, or an absent parent. Or it could be an past relationship where the partner was emotionally abusive.
Take time on this exercise and if you at any point find it too much please take a step back. Sometimes going for professional advice is key to helping us heal so talk to a counsellor or therapist that maybe able to help you delve deeper.
3. Reprogram Negative Beliefs
Triggers are often based on false or limiting beliefs that we have internalised due to our past experiences or traumas. These beliefs are not reality, but they may hold sway over how you view yourself and the world around you. For example, if you believe you are not smart or good enough you may find yourself stuck in a job that does not fulfil you. So how can we reprogram these beliefs?
One way is learning to use affirmations or positive statements that bring us in alignment with what we want to create in our lives. I have found affirmations especially can be a powerful tool to help change your mindset as thus our reality. A belief around “I am not worthy” can be changed to “I am worthy” or we can replace the belief “I am not smart enough” with “I am intelligent and capable.”
When we learn to use affirmations consistently we can start to shift our mindset and our energy so that we bring ourselves into alignment with the belief we do want to create. Learn to use affirmations daily by having small reminders such as notes on your phone, or write post it notes around your house where you see it everyday or on your computer. The more you use affirmations, the more you will reprogram your negative beliefs.
4. Shift Your Emotional State
Our triggers can often make us feel emotionally exhausted and drained. This is due to the intensity of our feelings and reactions as it places us in a constant state of anxiety. When we feel triggered it can be difficult to thing clearly or rationally or communicate effectively. As mentioned before a trigger also often comes with a physical sensation such as a racing heart or a sinking feeling in our gut.
One way to shift our emotional state is through breathing exercises. By learning to intentionally slow down our breathe we can create more space in our mind and bodies for these emotions to move through. One powerful breathing exercise is the Box Breathe, where you breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 4, then breathe out for 4 and hold for 4. This way of breathing has been found to alleviate anxiety and bring more calm to our nervous system, resulting in you feeling more relaxed.
Another exercise you can try is visualisation. Learning to use the power of your mind and imagination to cultivate a sense of peace and calm can help bring deeper healing and balance to the mind and body. For example, if your feeling overwhelmed take yourself away from the situation for a minute. Bring awareness to the breathe and body and imagine a calm scenery such as a beautiful lake or magical forest. As you do this breathe deeply in and visualise a stream of pink or white light flowing down from the Universe above into your energy field. This loving light brings peace, love and healing to every cell of your being so that with every breathe in you bring this energy deeper into your body. This visualisation only takes a minute but can be a powerful technique to use.
5. Practice Self Care
Triggers can take a major toll on your mental and physical health. They can lead to you feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, angry and overwhelmed. This can also lead to our immune system, energy levels and sleep becoming affected. This is why having a daily self care practice can be key to helping you move through any triggers with ease.
A daily self care practice that focuses on nourishing your mind, body and soul can include things like eating well, having a good bedtime routine, exercising daily, practicing meditation or doing something creative that nourishes your soul. Find a daily practice that works for you and make it part of your routine so that when you do feel overwhelmed you can more easily move back into a state of balance and love.
Another way to take care of yourself is learning to accept and love all aspects of yourself, including those parts you see as flawed. Practice compassion and kindness to yourself. Know and recognise that we all make mistakes. No one is perfect but you deserve love and respect.
Know that taking care of yourself is not selfish or indulgent. It is necessary and beneficial for your health and happiness. By learning to take care of yourself, you are then more able to take care of others. The more you practice self care the stronger you become in mind, body and spirit.
I hope this blog has helped you on your journey to master your emotional triggers so that you can create more freedom and balance in your life. Know that you have the power to change your life for the better. All you need is a little courage, a lot of compassion, and some practice. The more you apply these techniques, the more you will see positive results in your relationships, work and your well-being.