We all get triggered. And in fact, there's a pretty good chance you yourself were triggered in the past 24-hours. Think about it, am I right? Do you remember what got you? And look, it's okay, we all experience these over-the-top responses to situations that arise in our daily life. What's important with our triggers is that we follow those threads to trace the root of their origin and listen to the message they are trying to send us. While it's natural to want to avoid, distract or numb away our triggers and the fallout that typically surrounds them, I would like to propose that they can actually be seen as beautiful invitations to learn, understand and evolve us out of our unconscious programming.
This programming, was laid down during years of conditioning and has been running on auto pilot, quite possibly in a ruinous way, for decades. Cultivating this loving approach to our triggers takes time and patience with ourselves, because hey, bottom line: it's painful to face our pain, but the rewards for doing so might make it worth at least exploring.
As Brené Brown, bestselling author and researcher on shame and vulnerability, says,
"When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending."
In other words, when we face our triggers head-on and acknowledge the emotions and experiences they bring up, we are taking control of our narrative and paving the way for personal growth. I mean, wouldn't you rather be in control of creating a life that serves your current values, instead of unconsciously operating from long ago wounds that have never been processed? The sad fact is, that most of us are living our entire lives this way without even realizing it. I was one of those people and I didn't realize until much later in life how some very deeply buried wounds were informing my daily life in not-so-positive ways. It was a simple, but powerful shift when I began to touch into those disowned aspects of myself - places that felt too painful to reach into before.
My own triggers have shown me that I was in the wrong relationship, wrong job, wrong friendship, not taking good enough care of myself, not listening to my inner wisdom, or where I was compromising myself to be liked and valued by others. Triggers can be subtle and even socially acceptable, so you might not even realize some of your behaviors are tied up to your subconscious wounding as triggers.
As difficult as triggers are to investigate, they can be used as a powerful tool to heal what's being asked to heal. To love the parts of you that you've, up until now, considered too painful and too difficult to look at. And mostly, to align yourself with who you are today bringing you into a deeper level of self-truth and authenticity. By following the bread crumbs that our triggers are leaving for us, and using them as opportunities for self-reflection, we can gain valuable insights and emerge stronger and wiser. It can be healing and even empowering to reach into these places deep within our subconscious with loving compassion and curiosity. This is the truest form of inner work that brings lasting healing and relief. By bringing a deep and unconditional love and compassion to the things inside that hurt the most and putting light where there had been only shadow and darkness. That's why this work is often referred to as shadow work.
By taking the time to reflect on our triggers and the emotions they bring up, we can gain valuable insights about ourselves and our relationships. I love journaling as a very powerful way to allow our triggers and the emotions around them to express themselves. I also love guided meditations that help us get in touch with our shadow aspects. And I've created my own gentle meditation that can help you identify and get in touch with these disowned aspects of yourself.
I love what researcher and writer Robin D. Sharma says,
"The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow."
By leaning into the discomfort of our triggers, we can emerge stronger, wiser, and more resilient. We can control the narrative of our lives based on our truest values. Most importantly, we can allow past trauma to move through us in a healthy way that brings more healing and harmony to our nervous system. Conversely, by ignoring our triggers and continuing to stuff this pain down, we are essentially creating a ticking time bomb that will continue to erupt in a physical or emotional form until addressed.
Here's what's happening on a physiological level. Our emotional triggers are not located in a specific part of the body. Instead, they are associated with the body's nervous system, which is responsible for regulating our emotional responses.
When we are triggered, our nervous system activates our fight or flight response. This is a natural reflex that prepares our body to either confront a threat or flee from it.
During this response, our body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which increase our heart rate and blood pressure, and redirect blood flow to our muscles. This prepares us to take action to protect ourselves from the perceived threat.
While the physical effects of our fight or flight response may be felt throughout our body, the emotional reactions associated with our triggers are not confined to any one part of the body. Instead, they are experienced in our minds, as thoughts and feelings.
Here's a tool you can use any time you are triggered. Next time you experience any type of emotional trigger, become aware (either in that moment, or later), and I like to add that you hold yourself lovingly during this exploration as it can be difficult work, at the point that you become aware that you are triggered, ask yourself what is the emotion that underlies this particular feeling I'm experiencing. Often our triggers are about fear, anger, abandonment, or betrayal. Explore even deeper by asking yourself when you first felt this way in your past. What was the event or situation that was happening at that time that brought up the same emotion for you? Can you touch into that place? Can you allow yourself to feel deeply now, what was too difficult to feel back then? If not, it's also very okay since this work takes time and even the simple the acknowledgement of this origin can bring so much healing and understanding to a place deep within that's been waiting to be heard.
So much love... xx