What triggers you? Why does it trigger you? And where is it coming from? – These have got to be the scariest and toughest questions I have ever had to answer for myself. And because triggers rise up inside of us like little demons that make us want to tear our hearts out, the quickest way for us to deal with it is to look for a distraction.
I felt my triggers this week and they were so incredibly strong that it made me so uncomfortable. I was so sure that I was doing well and I had faced my past, but something seemed to linger. And when I felt it rising inside of me, I noticed that I would do one of the following:
1. Make an attempt to cancel it
2. Try to go into a theta state and remind myself what it feels like to feel good
3. Repeat a mantra
4. Call a friend who can distract me with their story
And if I was still in my early 20s I would have definitely gathered a few friends, pulled out the alcohol, and hit the club to stay out until ¾ in the morning.
In what ways do you distract yourself? I think it’s important for us to recognize these patterns.
In a recent 21-day meditation class of sorts with Deepak Chopra, he says that the truth needs no defense. And when we feel the truth rising inside of us, we are defending our ego. UGH. How true is that?
The truth, especially when its a truth tied to your past, can be so threatening because it is no longer part of your present construct. But in situations that kidnap your conscious mind and take you back to a time that may have felt familiar, we begin to see ourselves through a mirror; wherein the situation reflects back to us a part of ourselves that we may not particularly like.
Speaking your truth
The ego will do everything to tell you to ignore it because that is no longer you, but as Dr. Joe Dispenza writes, “when you verbalize who you have been, you also liberate the energy stored in your body” - giving yourself the space to talk about what’s long been cooped up inside. The ego will suffocate it and hope that it will just disappear, but in recognizing how uneasy you feel, courage now comes from being able to talk about it.
I have written about speaking truths before but never in the manner of what your ghosts are. In speaking up I have always referred to facing another person, learning to be vulnerable with them, and speaking because regardless of their reaction, we spoke because we loved ourselves. I suppose when our triggers come creeping up inside of us speaking that truth to ourselves can work the same way.
My triggers help me recognize when I am coming from my past and it urges me to come back to the present. When they start rising the not only urge us to pay attention, but they ask us to do as Gestalt Therapy might suggest and have an empty chair conversation. I tried this empty chair conversation with myself and in the end all that came out from it was my underdog self asking for forgiveness.
But what would we need forgiveness from? In my empty chair, I learned that I needed forgiveness from the following:
1. For not giving the present situation the dignity it deserved (because the past overwhelmed it)
2. For trying to suppress my insecurities
3. For being who I was
4. For rejecting the unpleasant parts of me
Moving forward in the present
The best thing about being triggered is we can now use it to remind us to come back to our present reality. When we are triggered we can pause to recognize it, but it is absolutely crucial to know when you are drifting into your past life spiral. If there is anything I can leave you with today it is simply knowing that in as excruciating as they can be, our triggers mean well. As psychologist Fritz Perls once said, “the most important gestalt (aka issue) will emerge first”. They come because they want us to stand even stronger in our own power and to be fully present. In the end it’s how we choose to be brave and show up to it that really matters.
Sending you so much healing from my occasionally triggered heart,