How many times have you had this conversation with yourself?
"Stop thinking about it.
Stop re-living it.
Just forget about it.
Just let it go...."
Probably a million right?
Well, you're not alone. If you didn't already know this, you should:
YOU are NOT your mind. YOU are NOT your THOUGHTS or your FEELINGS. We have the ability to observe our thoughts and feelings, and our "being-ness" is separate from those temporary experiences.
And this is super important because your ability to practice awareness more than you react is the KEY to managing your triggers.
What is Awareness exactly?
During the 1st month of my group healing program ReCLaiming: A 5 Point Pathway to Healing Self Worth we dive into the practice of AWARENESS..and we continue to work this foundational tool for the entire 5 months of the program.
Awareness is simply noticing what's happening. In this case, it's noticing what your mind is saying, what your body is feeling, who is around, and what exactly has triggered you.
I tell my clients to become a "third party observer" or a "gentle investigator" who is collecting just the facts without any judgement. That's right... NO JUDGEMENT. So you can't belittle yourself, call yourself an idiot or question your sanity during this process. #noselfbeatup
When you are centered in awareness, you are clear, objective, and see things for what they are, without judgment. It just is. It's from this centered place that we want to make decisions about ourselves, our behavior and our future.
Here are 4 steps you can use to mage your triggers and redirect your thoughts to a better feeling place.
1. Call that shit out!
Name the thought or feeling that is making itself known. If you are alone, definitely speak it out loud. Hearing it audibly allows your brain to switch gears, even if for just a moment, from thinking to speaking which helps breaking a mental loop.
For example: If you are getting frustrated or angry, speak that truth!
Say something like..
“Ok. I’m getting really frustrated."
"I am experiencing anger now!” - Feel free to yell this out and laugh at yourself when you hear how silly "I am experiencing anger" sounds at the top of your lungs.
"I see you anger. I see you coming through. I see you coming for me, yet again" - I like personifying anger and other emotions because it separates the emotion from WHO we are. Remember that emotions are temporary experiences. Try it with all your emotions! LMK in the comments if you give your emotions sassy names or personalities.
2. Get the FACTS!
Remember, you're a gentle investigator now! So it's time to collect some data and ask yourself some questions...but make no judgements or assumptions. Just. The. Facts. Here.
What ACTUALLY happened?
What was ACTUALLY said?
What do you KNOW as TRUTH?
Has this happened yet?
Is there anything I can do about it right now? - If so, do it, as long as it harms none.
A lot of times our mental loops and anxiety comes from a lack of clarity. The unknown is filled with a million possibilities and sometimes that's just unnecessary. So help your mind rest by giving it the clarity it needs around the things you do know and can control. Then close the loop with the last question.
If you're dealing with an emotional trigger, these questions will help you as well because they allow you to bring awareness to the situation from a neutral place and see if there were any points of overreaction, defensiveness, assumptions, or misunderstandings etc.
3. Check for Fear and Judgement
This part takes a little getting used to and it may feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but trust me. You will unlock a treasure trove of helpful information once you get this down!
Check in with the thoughts or emotions that showed up in Step #1 and see if there is any fear present beneath the initial emotion...in our example above it was frustration and anger.
So we would first take a deep breath, close down the eyes and ask our emotion:
"Is there any fear living beneath the frustration or anger?"
Then just wait patiently and quietly. See what comes to the surface. Ask the same question again but replace "fear" with "judgement." Continue asking it questions to see if you can get some clarity on what exactly you're afraid of or where you're experiencing judgement. For example, is it a fear of judgement from others or self imposed judgement?
The thing with triggers is that we are REACTING vs. RESPONDING and a lot of times our triggers are rooted in trauma or negative past experiences.
So checking in with our fears will bring awareness about a starting point for our healing and learn where we are needing some attention or reassurance. Finding judgement present can help you see where you are feeling insecure. It may also reveal that you deeply care about this particular issue or topic.
What's more is that many of us working in fast paced, deadline driven careers are operating in an elevated state, meaning our nervous system is in a constant "fight or flight" which is activated automatically by the sympathetic nervous system to scan our environments for threats. This state makes us more sensitive, more reactive, and hyper-vigilant which can lead to "solution based" obsession.
4. Self Soothe & Reparent
By this point your energy is probably shifting out of the original trigger and with your new found AWARENESS have gathered new information and shifted your thinking...even if just a tiny bit. I'll take it! Yay!!
This last step calls for some TLC - not the trashy cable network, but some tender, loving, care! 💖 It's time to de-escalate and redirect so you can move forward with your day a more wiser and integrated human BB.
Imagine that you have a younger sibling or a child (that you love). You can also imagine that you're having a talk with your best friend in the whole wide world who is going through a really hard time so you're gonna be gentle and loving with them.
Recall from step #3 if there was any fear or judgement present and what it was about. Are you afraid of failing? Are you afraid of being made fun of? Are you afraid of not being understood or seen? Are you putting way too much pressure on yourself and judging yourself too harshly?...
Soothe those fears and judgements by talking to yourself the way you would talk to your BFF or a small child in need of reassurance, love and compassion. Give yourself permission to receive some kindness.
Then let that kindness sink in and settle into your body.
Knowing what you know now, can you find one new thought that will help you feel better so you can move forward with your day?
I'm doing my best right now and I know that my best may look different on some days.
It's okay if it's not perfect, what matters is that it's getting done.
I'm a work in progress and I'm getting better everyday.
My intentions are good and I'll make sure people know that.
It's okay to be scared, I will keep going and bring my fear with me.
I love myself at this evolution. I'm getting better and better.
Sometimes I have bad days and that's okay. Tomorrow will be a new day.
I have some new found awareness and things make more sense now.
Everything is fine, nothing has gone wrong, it's actually pretty great.
I hope this guide serves you well! Please share with someone who could benefit from this :)
Curious to dive deeper into this process? Ready to learn other tools that can help you manage your anxiety, heal your perfectionism and people pleasing ways?
You can work with me here! Book before June when my books will be closed till August.