When I feel any negative perception, emotion, or feel stressed I STOP and NOTICE what I am feeling or thinking.
I wonder why that feeling or thought arose inside me. I understand someone or something external to me TRIGGERED me, and I become curious about what is going on inside me.
I know that the person or thing that triggered me did me a favor, and I use the opportunity to clean out whatever is up. I can only become triggered if there is a corresponding wound inside me already. I use the trigger as an opportunity to look inside and deal with the trauma that became activated.
Sometimes the stimulus does not come from the outside, but rather is a memory or familiar emotion that shows up. We can become habitual with our thoughts and emotions. If we have been used to negative thoughts or emotions due to trauma, we tend to habitually return there even though we are no longer in a traumatic situation. Our subconscious experiences can influence the way we perceive reality. It is important to question our thoughts and beliefs regularly.
If I am triggered by someone or an external event:
I express the feelings/emotions that came up for me by crying, screaming, hitting something, dancing, cursing, acting out the feeling or whatever creative outlet I can find to release the feelings from my body/mind. It can be likened to acting out a theater piece about my internal experience.
As soon as I identify I am triggered I remove myself from the situation and go somewhere private to emote. We never want to react outwardly on the other, we react privately to empty the emotions. When we become triggered we can’t CHOOSE our responses, we REACT instead which always causes more issues and karma to clean up later. We take responsibility for our reaction and release the past trauma that has arisen. What arose is OURS and has nothing to do with the other, the other merely triggered what was already inside us.
After getting the emotions out, I calm myself and look inside to see which part in me was triggered and I ponder on where in my past this reaction may have come from. I close my eyes and look inward to find the inner part who was in distress. I may even “see” a child version of myself or I may become aware of a voice or part inside me that is having that experience. A memory or memories may arise which show me why I became triggered and what happened to me in the past.
Our inner parts are often exiled because they hold trauma and we put them away to not feel the pain they hold. We often develop protector parts that keep the child/exiled parts separate from us by distraction or addiction. Our being is trying to feel balanced and okay, but if we have unhealed wounds inside us there will always be moments when that pain is reactivated. Rather than go through life pushing the emotional pain away with addictive behaviors or by becoming numb, becoming triggered can offer us the opportunity to heal once and for all. Usually there comes a point in our lives where the exiled parts can no longer be contained and they become “loud” enough to force us to deal with the issues. Sometimes this can reflect as physical pain to get our attention.
Our being is asking us to look inside and heal. We want to look inside and invite any part of us who is “up” or is in the driver’s seat of our psyche to be with us. We want to talk to those parts and hear what they need to say. We then can hold them, soothe them and validate their experience. After that, we tell them that this is a different time, the present, and the bad experiences are over, we are simply remembering, and now releasing.
We can call upon our Higher Self to help integrate and heal the other selves or parts. We are complex, not really an “I” but more of a “we”. We have a soul but live in a physical body and dimension. With trauma, we can become separated from our Higher Self (or Self). Trauma causes fragmentation of the Self, and the parts that feel and hold the trauma run our lives from the background.
Once we begin to work with our inner wounded parts, they begin to heal and trust us (the Self) to lead them. Initially, the inner parts may feel abandoned and mistrustful as we have buried them for so long. It is important to develop a good relationship with all our inner parts, and connect all to our Self who becomes the leader. Rather than react from a wounded part, our Self can take care of that part and consciously choose how we respond.
If the stimulus comes from the inside via thought, body pain, emotional state or habit, we first notice ourselves and become curious about what has arisen. We may do the same process as if triggered, or we may recognize it is just a habitual response and choose to replace that with something new. We can become aware and choose, NO, I will not indulge that negative thought or feeling. We may see nothing is really awry, it just feels that way out of habit. Why feel miserable if we don’t need to?
Habits are sticky, and we may feel a certain comfort in old negative patterns. Do we want to see the glass as half full or half empty? We have a choice when we are aware of our insides. If we tend to see it as half empty, we can use awareness to change that by shifting our focus to a new thought, the glass is half full. Instead of worrying about how much ugliness there is in the world, we can focus on how much beauty there is. Ultimately, we do have choice/control over our thoughts and feelings, once we master our inner landscape.
Mastering our inner landscape is not easy however, it takes relentless awareness of ourselves and the will to choose differently in each moment. Ideally, we develop an observer watching our thoughts, choices and behavior. We live our lives and simultaneously observe ourselves living our lives. Our subconscious (the experiences we had and beliefs we developed in the first 7 years of life) is normally outside of our awareness, yet deeply influences our perspectives and behavior. We can become aware of these subconscious beliefs by noticing when we are triggered and by observing ourselves consciously as we move about our lives.
As we operate with awareness, as we stop and heal/address what arises and integrate all of our selves we can change our patterns. When we know ourselves deeply, we develop inner compassion and no longer judge ourselves, which then means we no longer judge others. Often when we do judge others, it is because they are reflecting back to us parts of us we have judged in ourselves and are afraid to own. Shadow work can be difficult as we see and know parts of ourselves that may be dark, manipulative, inappropriate, dishonest or whiny. We tend to split off parts we don’t like and project those outwards. When we see these qualities in another, we hate them because we hate these parts of ourselves.
Humans are both divine and broken, and true healing is knowing all of ourselves. The traumas inside us can be healed with love, compassion, will, and determination. We want to have an intention to become whole and be willing to be radical in taking responsibility for ourselves and our behaviors and choices. Other people, however annoying, are our teachers as they push us to grow. Blaming others keeps us powerless, owning that we are responsible for our thoughts, feelings, behavior and choices is empowering because we have control over ourselves.
Trauma separates us from ourselves, in shamanic tradition it is the soul that shatters and healing comes with a soul retrieval to bring our parts home. Healing requires radical self-awareness and self-responsibility. It is difficult to sustain and we move forward in fits and starts. With persistence and a diligent eye on ourselves, we eventually become good at having an observer and controlling our runaway thinking.
Our Self is like a shepherd caring for our vulnerable parts. We want our vulnerable exiled parts to come home as they hold our childlike essence. When healed they are the exuberant joyful playful and creative parts of us. We tend to sever the parts that hold trauma, which is much like amputating a leg because it is wounded and hurts. Once we are integrated, our core Self works with inner distress quickly, and trauma no longer drives us subconsciously. This is freedom and inner peace.