What we focus on we feel….
I had a challenging experience on the weekend, that activated a very large trigger for me and whilst I knew logically everything was ok, my body and nervous system had massive reactions.
I instantly felt sick in my stomach,
I felt so angry, hurt, betrayed, and violated,
I had a massive painful knot in the pit of my stomach.
My mind was racing with a thousand thoughts,
My inner child felt devastated and alone.
Have you ever felt that way?
It can feel so hard, and so confusing because logically you can rationalise the whole experience, but still feel absolutely activated emotionally and physically.
And I took all of this as an opportunity to do some massive healing work and nervous system processing on a past experience.
I got to really dive deep into understanding what was I really making this event mean.
What was the underlying story I was telling myself about myself and about this situation?
What was I telling myself about the other person involved?
I often find there are two parts to healing.
The first step is actually processing the old trigger. This looks like being truly present with all the feelings, allowing them to be there, allowing them to arise with a sense of curiosity and observing.
Allowing yourself to feel them fully and for them to be expressed, for me this often is racking sobs, and a lot of big messy, emotions.
Sometimes it’s rage or anger that can be expressed through whacking a pillow on a bed or expressed in a way that is not going to harm either myself, or anyone else.
Generally underneath anger is always a very deep hurt, and it’s important to feel and process both.
The second step is noticing what you are telling yourself about this event or situation, yourself or the other person. This is when I ask myself many times, “what am I making this mean?”
Understanding what is the story I’m telling myself about this situation is key to not prolonging the trigger or the suffering involved with the situation. (I used to live in these triggered states for months on end, but now I can move through them pretty fast, some in minutes, others can take a day or two depending on how big it is.)
We often unconsciously will make a situation mean something really disempowering which can reinforce a painful, negative past story. This truly keeps us stuck in a cycle of pain and reactivating the nervous system.
Once you’ve become aware of the statement, such as “They don’t care about me”, or “If they really loved me, they wouldn’t have done that” or any other statement that you are telling yourself about this situation, then you can start to do the inner work on it.
This is when I do the Byron Katie work on these beliefs or statements, I also do the turnaround statements as often I am projecting my own pain, my own fear, my own beliefs, or my own shame onto someone else. (for more info go to www.thework.com)
When we are unconscious of these things, we can end up creating even more challenges in our relationships with others, as the fastest way out of our own shame, is to blame someone else for their behaviour, rather than looking at what is at the root cause of our own shame and pain.
This was one of the most powerful things I could do for myself. I realised, I had attached huge humiliation and shame not only to my old trigger but also to this situation.
Owning this fully, not only allowed me to recognise, this shame in truth was not mine, but was induced shame (I’ll do another post on that this week) but also that I could release these feelings and no longer hold onto them.
After doing the above two steps, I was able to communicate effectively and truly understand the other person’s perspective.
This brought so much calmness to my nervous system.
The third step I completed this morning with this situation, which truly helped me to clear the very last of any residual anger, fear, and pain, was to write a list of things that I’m so grateful for and truly appreciate about this person.
It dropped me immediately back into my heart, reconnected me with the love that I have for them, and allowed me to align with the best version of myself again.
This is so important to remember that whatever we focus on we feel and it’s so powerful to choose consciously what we are focusing on and what outcome we truly wish to experience and create.
After being in a very difficult and unhealthy relationship for 14 years, in which I experienced some DV, my nervous system can become hypervigilant very fast and often I can become distant and withdrawn in my relationships with others whenever I don’t feel safe.
Working with this has been immensely healing and knowing how to embrace these experiences as opportunities to heal and find a pathway back to love has been one of the greatest blessings in my life.
Not only that, it’s increased my own ability to communicate freely, to share what is and isn’t ok for me respectfully, and to be able to lovingly hold two different perspectives at the one time.
This is a powerful catalyst and healer for all of our relationships and in particular our relationship with ourself.
I’d love to hear what you find most helpful when you are triggered, or massively activated by a past experience.
Love and Blessings,
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