We can all get triggered, right? You know, those experiences that can make us go from chill and happy to enraged, intensely anxious, or terribly sad in one fell swoop. And I’m sure you’ve noticed that when you’re with family, some of those triggers you haven’t seen in a long time suddenly resurface!
Well, I just finished a COVIDtime family vacation with 12 people crammed into a ~ 900 square foot house. While it was a tight fit that required a lot of spacial creativity, our time was filled with so much joy, delight, cousin/family love, and laughter.
AND there were also triggering moments for each of us at one point or another. Have you noticed that each of us has our own unique triggers?
In years past, when these triggers showed up for me, I fumed or cried. My mind spun endlessly with the details of the story that happened. I examined the story and interaction and who said what from every possible angle. I talked with as many people as possible (but never the person involved!) about what happened, hoping that this would make me feel better. And sometimes it did…for a short bit. But as soon as a moment of quiet arrived, often in the middle of the night, the story would slip back into my mind and before I knew it, my mind was once again spinning about the story.
And guess what? This process often didn’t stop after a day or two. Oh, no! My mind was HIGHLY SKILLED in thinking all about my upset feelings and going over and over the story. And this sometimes lasted years, depending upon the topic and trigger.
For a few, that may be hard to imagine. But I know that many of you will be able to relate to this. I’ve worked with SO MANY clients over the years who describe this same experience. Certain triggers can consume their lives and their minds for weeks, months, or even YEARS!
Talk about relentlessly uncomfortable!
But guess what? There’s a different way to navigate these triggers that offers relief SO MUCH MORE QUICKLY!
When I got triggered during my recent COVIDtime family vacation, I put this into practice and again experienced a quick resolution to the trigger. You’d think I wouldn’t be surprised by this anymore since I’ve practiced it for many years now and see it’s amazing results in my clients’ lives, too! Yet I was still just as amazed.
Here’s the thing. Our feelings actually live in our bodies, not our minds. When the mind takes over the show, it spends a LOT of time thinking about how we’re feeling, but not actually feeling the feelings. This pins in place the very feelings from which we so desperately want relief.
The mind is convinced that if you think hard enough about a feeling, it will resolve it or make it go away. The interesting part is that while we are busy talking and thinking about an uncomfortable feeling like anxiety or grief or anger, our body is busily experiencing it. But when our whole focus goes up into our head, we miss out on the gifts of gold being offered by the body.
When I got triggered over vacation, my mind started its normal spinning that it is so good at in an attempt to help me. Instead of following the pull to follow my mind’s lead, I quietly tuned in to how I was feeling in my body.
I felt confusion. And anger. And sadness. Everything felt tense and tight. It felt like my chest wanted to fold inward. I also felt immense pressure inside, like I wanted to explode. I felt young, like a small child. And most of all, I wanted to run away.
Do you notice that none of this directly focused on the story that had just happened and triggered me in the first place?
I simply noticed how I felt in my body. I only did this for a few minutes because it isn’t necessary to stare intensely into the eyes of our uncomfortable feelings! In fact, when we do, it can actually compound it!
Then I asked myself what I needed to do to come back into the very moment I was in and be present. So I took my daughters to the beach.😍 There’s nothing quite like hanging out with kiddos at a beach to pull you back into the moment!!
And you know what? My trigger was done by the time I got home from our beach time. Do I mean that it was sort of done with residual resentment? No! I mean it was so done that even now I can’t remember what the original trigger was!!!
If someone had told me that this was possible 15 years ago when the aftermath of triggers repeatedly consumed my mind and life for LONG periods, I would not have believed it!
I consistently experience and witness the power of offering embodied presence to uncomfortable feelings when they show up for us. When we shift it from a mind experience to a full-body experience, it changes the game and offers relief so much faster.
Does this mean that when you find yourself triggered, you can find relief by simply shifting your focus from your mind to your body? Maybe. For some, it is that simple. For most, it takes a bit of guidance and practice.
And guess who guides clients in this all the time? ME! 😍😍😍 And you can probably see why!
After spending SO MANY years with my mind endlessly spinning about any particular incident that triggered anxiety or any other uncomfortable feeling, I now have relief and freedom. I know what to do when my mind starts doing this. I know how to redirect my focus and mind so that I move more quickly into relief rather than away from it.
And this is what I want for you, too.
Can you relate to feeling owned by your spinning mind and finding little relief? If you’re ready to learn an easier way, let me help you. Shoot me a DM to get the ball rolling.
Wishing you all trigger-ease this week! ❤️
P.S. If you’ve been enjoying my weekly blogs and are itching for more daily inspiration, friend me on Facebook (Emily Colwell) or follow me on Instagram (dr.emily_colwell). I post frequently and humor leaks into most of my posts!
Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND
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