In my peaceful parenting journey I have read a lot about triggers. Being aware of what triggers you, being aware when you are triggered and taking time to calm yourself, and doing some emotional work to heal these wounds that are causing you to be triggered by certain things.
I’ve been aware for some time that I have a lot of ’emotional work’ to do. But what exactly does that mean? How exactly do I work through these emotions in a way that will be healing? Over the past few weeks I feel I have worked out a sort of system which I feel works to achieve this for me, Part of my solution has come from things I have read and listened to (I’ll try to give due credit where I can remember the sources!) and part is processes I have worked out on my own.
My first insight came from an article I cannot find now…. sorry…. (I think it had the words ‘you disgust me’ in the title). What I took from that article was to look for that lost, scared, hurting child inside…. and when you find her, go and give her a hug. Tell her that you understand. Validate her feelings. Tell her that it’s ok now- you will protect her. I tried this, and I felt it was incredibly comforting and helpful.
Listening to Lori Petro reaffirmed my newly found insight, as she emphasized the need to give yourself empathy when you are triggered. She talked about looking after yourself, and the healing power of empathy. Many of the things I read/listen to (Dr Shefali is a good example) talk about our triggers being caused by incidents and situations from our childhood that have scarred us. It was this article by happinessishere that prompted me to the next step…. In fact, looking back at the article I should probably give full credit to this wonderful writer and mother. ‘My process’ is basically just her advice in this article put into action.
After having any experiences of being triggered (regardless of whether I dealt with it well or not so well) I started writing down what it was that triggered me eg “feeling completely overwhelmed” “being criticised” “My needs always coming last”
After identifying a trigger, I tried to recall all the times in my life I had ever felt that way before, as a child, as a young adult, as an adult in a dysfunctional relationship and marriage, as a new mother, and now. I wrote these things down in a list under the trigger. There was a long list after each trigger, detailing my experiences and my feelings…. feelings from the past resurfaced and each time I made a new list I felt quite heavy with all the emotion that was brought up. As Sara (happinessishere) advised, I allowed myself to ‘sit’ with these feelings. I gave my self empathy, and validation. I put an understanding arm around that little girl inside.
What seems to be happening now, is that when these particular triggers come up again, I recognize that I need to be gentle with myself because this is a really sensitive spot for me. I am able to remember, that these feelings are not just about right now. They are about all the times in the past that similar or worse things have happened to me creating this incredibly sensitive area. I am able to pause and give myself empathy again…. and then without reacting I am able to see the situation for what it is and think rationally about what to do next. Most of the time!! I’m not going to claim that this is a magical fix!! But I definitely think its a big step in the right direction for me.