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Triggers/Trance



Triggers

Certain parts of our brain have evolved to monitor for danger and, when we have experienced trauma, they become over-activated and pick up on all sorts of triggers that might be interpreted in the mind as trouble, but are not really danger.

So, the body is constantly in a flush of stress and reactivity and we are seeing the world through the lens of fear.

Trance is the reactions to triggers, which are coping strategies that haven’t matured

~ A teaching from the Buddha ~

There are two arrows.


The first arrow that hits us (an unexpected event, situation, illness etc) causes great pain and hardship. It hurts us.


The second arrow is our own resistance to this hardship and our desire for our experience to be different than it is. This second arrow’s name is suffering.


The teaching is that pain and hardship are unavoidable for us all, however, suffering is a choice.


Our relationship to pain and hardship are what to a great extent influences our suffering


“You can only feel your happiness, bliss and joy to the depth that you are willing to feel your pain, your sorrow and your grief”

Trance


“What we resist persists”

Trance (reactions to triggers) happen when our perceptual filters have narrowed and we are emotionally charged.

When our reaction is driven by the sense that something is wrong, we get hijacked. A belief has been challenged somewhere, often a belief rooted in wounding.

The Buddha taught that suffering arises out of feeling separate and alone.

To the degree that we identify as being separate:


- we have the feeling that something is wrong, something is missing.

- we want life to be different from the way it is.

- an acute sense of separation amplifies feelings of vulnerability and fear, grasping and aversion.

Feeling separate is an existential trance in which we have forgotten the wholeness of our being.

Our basic internal message is, “Your natural way of being is not okay; to be acceptable you must be different from the way you are.”

When caught in trance, the limbic system and more primitive parts of our brain are overriding the areas of our brain that need activating to gain clarity and return to centre.


What are emotional triggers?


Emotional triggers are certain words, events, memories, or other stimuli that cause strong emotional reactions. They can remind us of a traumatic event or experience and ignite an emotional response in the here and now.

These responses might lead to unhelpful behaviors, like being overly aggressive. Or they might cause negative thoughts to spiral. It depends on the person and their experiences.


Examples of emotional triggers


Triggers come in different shapes, sizes, and situations. They can be people or places, words or smells, or even colors.


It’s so important to realize when you’re in a triggering situation.


Some common triggering situations might look like:


  • being rejected

  • being treated unfairly

  • having your beliefs or ideologies challenged

  • losing your independence

  • feeling unwanted

  • feeling smothered

  • being ignored or excluded by people

  • losing control


Everyone has unique experiences that affect them in different ways.


Noticing how you feel when you’ve been triggered is the first step in identifying your triggers and their source.

How to identify your emotional triggers


Be patient with yourself. It’s not always easy to recognize, and your heightened emotions can make it difficult to pinpoint specific triggers.


Try thinking back to when you first experienced these feelings. Was there a specific event from your childhood that stirred up similar emotions? Or maybe it’s a more recent event, like a really bad argument with a friend or loved one.


Your triggers will be easier to recognize as you become more self-aware. And once you’re more aware, you can take steps to change or regulate your reactions.


Symptoms of emotional triggers


Emotional triggers can produce physical effects in the body.


They may resemble symptoms of anxiety disorders, which include:


  • increased heart rate

  • upset stomach

  • feeling dizzy or sick

  • trembling or shaking

  • sweating

  • muscle tension


If you experience any of these symptoms (or any others), try to make space for all that is arising. These physical responses are a warning sign that something needs attending to.


How emotional triggers affect relationships


Relationships can be emotional rollercoasters.


Negative experiences from childhood or past relationships can affect the way you behave in your current partnerships. These experiences can cause you to think and act in ways that may sabotage the relationship.


For instance, if you were emotionally neglected in childhood, you might be on high alert for this behavior in your current relationship.


When triggered, you might become overly angry or emotional, because you’re nervous system is reminded of that past wounding.


Romantic relationships aren’t the only ones to suffer. Triggers can also affect your friendships or relationships with family members.


We are responsible for our emotional triggers. No one else is responsible for our reactions.


Coping when you feel triggered


How to defuse an emotional trigger


Your experiences are personal to you, and it might take a bit of experimenting to see what tools help you to calm your emotional reactions and regain emotional sobriety.


Here are a few suggestions:


  • Recognize what is happening inside you and name it silently and inwardly or through writing.

  • Accept and allow space for your feelings. Give yourself permission to feel what is real for you. We don’t have control over what we feel, but we do have control over how we react..

  • Take space. When you’re triggered, you lose your objectivity. It’s almost impossible to have any perspective when you’re overcome with emotion. If you can, take space from the situation so you can see things more clearly. Highly emotional thinking doesn’t produce clear solutions.

  • Identify the beliefs. Recognize what beliefs are being triggered and apply practices like RAIN

  • Communicate. Heightened emotions make it more difficult to communicate. If a friend, colleague, or loved one has triggered you, take a moment to gather your thoughts. Communicate clearly what has happened so they can understand how you’re feeling.

  • Breathing techniques. Emotional triggers can produce physical symptoms of anxiety. Breathing techniques can help calm you down and stop things from getting worse.


How to recover long term

Addressing the root cause of your emotional triggers can help lessen their impact over time. Below are some ideas to help build your resilience.


Meditation


Meditation is a great way to slow down and focus on the present moment.


Regular mediation can help you become more aware of your feelings and emotions. This can help you to notice emotional triggers when they are activated.


Journaling


Journaling is a great way to bring some order to thoughts rushing around in your head. Keeping track of when you were triggered and how you felt can help you identify certain patterns.


Try writing down the beliefs that are most often triggering you.

Are there any similarities between them?


Can you identify a common root wound?

Work with a therapist or somatic therapist

Sometimes, your past trauma can be so deeply rooted that it’s impossible to find the cause without the help of a trained professional.


That’s where a therapy can help. Therapy help you understand your emotional triggers, and give you personalized methods for coping.



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