7 Questions to Ask When Dealing with a Trigger

UpsetA guest post by Heather Durling

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been dealing with some very deeply buried triggers that exist in my conscious and subconscious mind. I’ve done a lot of work in healing from my abusive childhood, so I thought I was doing pretty well. Out of nowhere, which is usually how these things go, I was shown that I still had some clearing up and cleaning out to do.

Now, my first initial reaction to these nasty triggers was to be angry, feeling as if I hadn’t come as far as I had hoped in my healing and recovery. The secondary reaction was to feel hopeless in the sense that I would never be able to completely heal. The final reaction was to look at myself and say, “I’m done allowing this to have power over me. I want to move on from this.”

This is where your power lies, these “I” statements that affirm and confirm that you are ready, willing, and able to do the work of opening up the proverbial can of worms and start sorting them out.

The way I handled my triggers was to seek help from two coaches that I have been blessed to personally know. I was willing to be asked the right questions and ready to dig deep to find the answers. You may have heard this one before – “You know the answers, and you always have. You have to be willing to see them.” When I allowed myself to go there, to really look, feel and see what was causing the physical and emotional reactions, I was able to start cleaning off some very old corrosion on my connection to myself, my heart, and my spirit.

In Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, “Excuses Be Gone,” he tells us to ask ourselves the following: “First of all, is it true? Can you be 100% sure that what you’re saying is true? Don’t believe everything you think. Almost everything that you think doesn’t hold up to a simple-truth test.”

How do you know what to ask yourself, or where to look within, when seeking if how you are feeling is true?

Where a lot of people seem to struggle, is exactly where I got stuck. When these powerful triggers struck me, one being very physical where I lost my ability to speak and literally froze for a few moments, and the other an emotional reaction to being made to feel less than – it was very difficult to know what to do with them. Most of the time, we ride them out, waiting for them to subside. However, if you can learn how to ask yourself the right questions when a trigger is in full force, you can start to heal from it.

When a trigger hits you, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is it that person is triggering within you?
  2. What are you feeling? (i.e. anger, sadness, etc.)
  3. Where are you feeling it? Be still for a moment and sense if it’s in your head, heart, gut, etc.
  4. Can you tap into why it makes you feel that way?
  5. Who was it in your past that made you feel this way?
  6. Have you forgiven yourself for allowing it, and have you forgiven them for doing it?
  7. Ask yourself – how they made you feel, is it true?

That final question, “Is it true?” will almost always prove to be false when it’s a trigger. They are often caused by someone else’s belief that was downloaded into you, or by a trapped emotional reaction that hasn’t been released, such as feeling powerless, terrified, hurt, and betrayed.

Once you have done the work of cleaning out all of the “stuff” that is causing the trigger to engage, you have gained power over it. Then it’s time to redo your “I” statement. For an example, with the strong physical trigger, I was hit with, the original “I” statement that was happening was: “I am in danger, I am afraid.” After going through the steps, asking the questions, and finding the answers, I was able to change that statement to: “I am in control. I am safe.” Saying that still brings an emotional reaction of tears to my eyes, but it’s because I’m still in the process of accepting those words. However, I will keep repeating that statement until it becomes as strong as the lie it has replaced.

It takes practice, just as it took practice for you to learn how to walk. You fell, A LOT. However, your powerful desire to walk fiercely outweighed the temporary moments of falling. This will take time; it is a process, so please remember to be kind to yourself while going through it, knowing that you will eventually learn how to walk away, leaving the past behind you once and for all.

About Heather Durling:  Founder of The Phoenix Gathering, Practitioner, and Personal Coach for adult survivors of child abuse. She is a fellow survivor who strives to learn new ways to thrive, while sharing her knowledge with those on their own healing journey. She is also a co-facilitator for a local support group, speaker, writer, and a closet herb mad scientist.  She is a guest in the Head|Heart|Health Club as we learn to shift our thoughts.  <<< click on the link for more.

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When Guilt is a Weapon. How do you respond?

Guilt as a weapon

Advice was needed.  I read the message and knew immediately someone was being manipulated…yet again.  Manipulation is when someone uses tactics, such as guilt, to try to make you do something you might not normally want to do…or even consider doing.

When guilt is used as a weapon, many things can occur. 

Guilt can actually cause physical pain, mental pain, and is a powerful emotion that sometimes overrides reason.  The body was light just moments before reading a guilt-inducing message, and now the body begins to feel heavy.  The heaviness can be associated with feelings of resentment.  If you have truly done something wrong, guilt is a natural emotion; however, manipulative people use it as a weapon, and that is not acceptable.

In my closed group, we are exploring the boundaries we need to put in place when someone purposely tries to make us feel this way.  This can be saying yes when we really mean no, taking on more work when we already have a full plate, or even having other friends trying to make you feel like it is your fault that they aren’t getting something done because you said no.  Did you just nod your head or get shivers up your spine?

There are several characteristics of someone who uses guilt as a weapon. 

  • It isn’t always obvious at first, that they are trying to make you feel bad.
  • They might also use emotional manipulation tactics.
  • They might be your partner, and use wording like “If you cared about me, you would…”
  • They get angry when you enforce boundaries…because they know you are onto them.
  • Guilt doesn’t forgive as easily as someone who builds relationships out of trust.
  • They pretend to be the martyr…doing you a favor.
  • And the empaths favorite manipulator, the narcissistic friend.

So how do you deal with the weaponized guilt?

  1. The first thing you have to do is to decide you are done.  Quite simply, done.  This is your life, not theirs.  Any other answer lets them push the boundaries time and time again.
  2. The truth is, you have something they want to use.  So use it to your advantage, not theirs and make a plan.  They are trying to make you feel insecure for what reason??  Write it down and think about their motives.
  3. Can you stand up for yourself with the truth?  Here is your test.  Disentangle yourself from this situation without using the word “sorry”.  You have nothing to be sorry for, and your time is valuable as well.  Write down your truth in one sentence that makes you feel empowered.  You have always had the power, remember that.
  4. Put on your cape…and go.  You have been used, yes.  But put your cape on and do not feel guilty.  They are trying to use your insecurity against you, but look back over what you have that they want.  Your cape is your truth.  You are worthy of great friends, good relationships, and a positive work ethic.  Not one that makes you constantly feel used and underappreciated (can insert not feeling like shit in your journal).  What is the opposite of that feeling?  Use the words to surround yourself in this cape of truth and protection.

While this message is for a friend of mine, it also goes for all of you reading this.  Don’t let someone shift this guilt to you and tell you how they think you are feeling at this moment.  Again, that is their interpretation of the situation.  Move far, far away from the mind games, and the use of them saying things “people have been telling me…” what people?  No one.  They made that up.

Do not let them use self-pity and if it face to face, as it never is, back it up with body language as well; however, if it is a message, do not prolong the chat.  Short and concise truth statements is all they need.  Not a back and forth.  The longer you draw it out, the more they will twist and try to give you reasons to crumble.  Stand in your truth today.

Want to work more fully on releasing guilt and setting boundaries?  Join us today!

 

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Stop Using the Word Judge.

I looked up the word “judge” and tons of articles about the Bible teaching us not to judge appeared.  Then a few more interesting pieces of research…saying that some people like to throw certain verses around to cover up whatever they were doing.  At this point, I was getting warmer, but still didn’t quite find the point I wanted to make.  So, in a nutshell, I want to tell you if you have commented saying that “We shouldn’t judge x,y,z” the truth is, you just judged.  By feeling like you had to make that comment, yes, you could have held back, but you didn’t, you just judged the other person and felt you knew enough about them or the story to make that comment.  The truth is, you sized them up and whatever the meaning was behind their words, off just a snippet of conversation.

So what can we do instead of trying to berate another person publicly?

  1. Don’t comment “bait”.  It’s just not helpful nor is it appropriate on someone’s status.  They are entitled to make their status update about whatever it is they want to.  Sure, there are TONS of people out there who LOVE to share, comment, and make ridiculous posts.  I get it.  I do.  Unlike.  Unfollow.  Unfriend.  <<< poof.  It’s like magic.
  2. Do you really know this person at all?  As one gal said to me recently when trying to justify something that appeared on the book of face, what do we really know about anyone out there?  Stop and consider this a moment before you comment.  Have you ever had a conversation with this person in real life?  Face to face?  In a message?  On the phone?  Skyped with them perhaps?  If the answer is no, you honestly have no basis on which to use your word of the day.  You have no real frame of reference.
  3. Think about what was triggered inside of you.  Why do you feel the need to comment?  Take a step back and notice if it’s because it is a behavior you recently fought hard to push down in yourself.  Maybe you have even had the same thought this person had, but quickly pushed it away so now it makes you mad.  The emotions that it triggered made you realize you really don’t have a handle on your “stuff”.  So it scared you.
  4. Your negative reaction stems from anger, jealousy or perhaps envy.  This one is hard for those of us who are constantly working to reel in our “stuff”.  As we try harder and harder to change our thought patterns, and work on our spiritual self, we start to notice when the ego side of us rears it’s head…and then we get in this thought pattern “ugly cycle”.  Like it’s stuck on rinse, but not working.  Say “Oh that’s an interesting feeling.”  I am going to just notice it, and breathe deeply for a count of 5 and see what happens when I allow myself to release it.  The trick here is to see if you can release it, so visualize the emotion being released like a balloon in the sky and floating away.
  5. Try to use “discernment” instead.  Discernment is awareness/understanding without the emotional response, and often it is there, but buried under the emotional response first.  So when we work to remove the emotional piece like we did above, what are we left with?  Hopefully a clearer picture that is not as biased.

As with any journey, learning more about ourselves and what pushes our buttons can ultimately help us understand our fellow man.  What we have to learn to do, is pause and reflect before we rise and react.  ~Aimee Halpin

pause and reflect