“Ideas pull the trigger, but instinct loads the gun.”
I’ve reflected on the last few years and my reactions to people and events..how many times they have been exaggerated and unpredictable. At times totally out of context to the situation at hand.
Triggers consist of thoughts, feelings and events that seem to “trigger” an automatic response from us. The word “trigger” is important here because our reaction occurs automatically. It might seem as if the reaction is involuntary but the truth is…this reaction, like everything else, is a choice. Learning to identify our personal emotional triggers is the first step to taking control over how we choose to respond.
Living as adoptees, adults of abuse or rape is especially challenging. Not only for ourselves but for those around us who take the brunt of our reactions. I’ve been told it’s like walking on land mines or on eggshells never knowing what “trigger” might be stepped on and the fragile shell come crashing down.
When I was first in “reunion” I was so triggered I was someone I had no experience with, a stranger. I had no control over my tears, my body, my thoughts, my grief….nothing. For someone who had been so tightly held together for decades every emotion exploded at once. The grief, the deep..deep sadness was almost unbearable, yet no one, could understand, as everyone around me, had their mother. Added in to the mix was that my Mast Cells were heading over the abyss in to Hell and I didn’t recognize, nor did anyone else, the physical aspect to my crash and burn.
Until we know how to correctly identify our triggers they will continue to rule our emotions. It’s an ongoing process of learning for all of us. The strengths that have helped us succeed are also our most significant triggers. If you feel someone is not honouring that strength, emotions are triggered and in an instant we react. Perhaps with anger or fear. Of course we immediately rationalize it so it makes sense.
The Key is to catch yourself reacting when your emotions are triggered.
If you can do that..you may discover the threat isn’t real at all. Some of the most common emotional triggers, meaning that you react when you feel as though you aren’t getting or will not get one of these things that are important to you are in this group.
being included, acceptance, respect, be liked, be valued, be understood, be needed, be right, be in control, be treated fairly, loved, attention,
Each of us has some that are more important that others. Others may hold no emotional charge at all. This list can be quite long and personal. Having these needs isn’t a bad thing. At some point in your life they served or saved you. The thing is, we may become attached to these needs and when that happens your brain will be on the lookout for circumstances that threaten our ability to have these needs met. At that point your needs become emotional triggers.
I can only speak from my place, where I sit now, in reflection of my past triggers and pain. There was a time at the beginning of my reunion I was constantly in a flare. A flare of Mastocytosis…yes…which plays havoc with my brain but also a place of such pain that the slightest threat to those above needs sent me into protection mode. Especially, as I mentioned for those who have lived in the adoptee world or world of abuse where we needed to protect ourselves. I grew up in the era where children were meant to be seen and not heard. I had no voice in anything. I had no say in even finding out who I really was, no rights, no love, no validation that I was meant to be on this earth. I was abandoned at birth, abused and used. Why wouldn’t I be filled with pain!
Remember when Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth exploded into the world? It was all about Oprah and Eckhart then. The online event that captured the world. Millions were brought together through Skype and cyber magic to work through this amazing book together with Eckhart Tolle and Oprah.
I remember the exact moment when I “got it”. As many buddhist teachings I had been to when I heard the teaching put in a different way… I got it.
The Pain Body
I was going through a particularly difficult time. My daughter had moved back to Toronto and my heart was broken….enter the pain body. Huge trigger…abandonment, being loved, being needed, respected and heard. You name it and IT was triggered. There were also times in conversation I just lost it. Pain body took control. I didn’t see it at the time. Again, mastocytosis and torn rotator cuff along with dislocated jaw disc created the feeding ground and the pain body gobbled it up and emerged the strongest.
When we have old emotional pain living inside us, as adoptees do, it’s called your Pain Body
This applies of course to anyone but I am speaking as an adoptee and survivor of abuse/rapes. The pain body is an accumulation of painful life experiences that were not fully faced and accepted at the time. It leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain and grows with time and experiences all energetic old emotion.
Pain body is the aspect of egoic consciousness. When the ego is blown up by emotion of the pain body it gains tremendous strength, taking over the situation.
The challenge is to recognize the pain body when it becomes active, when something triggers the strong emotional reaction. At that moment, if it takes over your thoughts, the internal dialogue, which is dysfunctional at the best of times becomes the voice. The actual event is coloured by old, painful buried emotion distorting everything.
For me, living alone gave my pain body the perfect feeding ground. It gobbled up every negative thought, every painful moment and gained momentum and energy. You know those times when you can’t sleep and the thoughts won’t shut off or you sit, thinking for hours about a specific hurt..The pain body thrives on those times. It literally is eating you alive…just waiting for the next time it can emerge after a trigger.
Imagine then, if you are with someone who also has an unidentified pain body! The ego/pain body loves other people, especially those who jump in and take part in the chaos of negativity. It even pokes those people to trigger the response it needs to grow. Of course, if you aren’t present in that moment and aware, you will immediately react….and now, there are two pain bodies feeding off of each other and loving the drama!
I started recognizing my own pain body and it then becomes so clear. We carry so much unacknowledged pain even from generations past. The challenge is, of course to acknowledge and recognize our triggers and where they originated. A huge part of that is being present. Being able to step outside of ourselves and see clearly when the pain body is attempting take over. Not an easy task but the more practice, the more awareness we have..the easier it gets and the pain body loses energy and power.
When you notice that you are emotionally reacting you have to shift your emotional state to think through what your trigger might be.
Relax…breath and release the tension in your body
Detach…clear your mind of all thoughts
Center…drop your awareness to the centre of your body, feel your breath
Focus…find one word that represents who you want to be or feel in this moment
Once you shift your emotional state, you are free to check if someone is actually taking something away from you or not. You can then ask for what you need or let it go and move on. Keep breathing and thinking of your keyword and you will deflate your pain body, your triggers and your patterns.
Freedom does exist