Traveling home and spending time with family is always a great test of our practices around awareness, patience, kindness, love, and compassion towards ourselves and our families.
My partner and I headed to Minnesota this week, he for his annual deer hunting trip and me to see the faces of the people closest to me back in the Midwest. We knew that we may face some of these tests since our families, like most, have challenging dynamics and personalities.
We talked about different potential scenarios that could play out, both pleasant and unpleasant, on the 24-hour drive. We reminded each other that the only thing we are responsible for is our own actions and reactions, and it is our responsibility to remove ourselves from situations that feel toxic, unsafe, or harmful.
As I walked toward my rental car where we’d part ways for 10 days, my partner said, “Remember to be patient. I love you. Be patient.”
I turned, laughing at the statement, and asked, “Is that for me, you, or both of us?”
“Both of us.” Said with a smile.
Families can trigger us with one look, one word, one sigh. They can make a seemingly pleasant evening turn into a grinding, frustrating night within an instant by pushing that one button that you thought you hid.
Why can they find them so easily?
Because they programmed most of your triggers.
But here’s the thing…emotions are a powerful healer, if you are willing to listen.
Your triggers, the emotions that flare up almost uncontrollably, show you what parts of yourself still need some tender loving care from you.
Yes, I said “you” and not the other person or someone else that caused the initial pain. You may or may not ever get an apology or closure from that person, unfortunately. You are the only person responsible for your healing, so use your emotions to help you heal.
Reconnecting with Your Emotions
In the last post, “Emotions – Whose responsibility is it anyway?”, you started to dive into your beliefs about having and expressing your emotions. If you haven’t done the inquiry and reflection about emotions, please go do that first.
Here are 5 steps to help you reconnect with your emotions so you can harness their healing power:
- Become aware – This may sound silly but being aware of how you are feeling and why is an important first step. Most people try to stuff or numb “bad feelings”. The thing is, you don’t get to choose which to feel and which you don’t. If you stuff or numb some, you end up stuffing or numbing all. So when you start to feel something that you don’t want to, bring awareness to it by simply asking “What am I feeling?” Name it.
- Feel it – This step makes most people incredibly uncomfortable. Instead of pushing it away, stuffing it down, or numbing it with food, alcohol, drugs, or the like, take 2 minutes and feel whatever it is you are feeling. If you want to cry, cry. If you want to scream, scream into a pillow. If you want to hit something…well then it is a good time to fluff the pillows with your fists or make some bread from scratch (thanks for teaching me that one, Gram!). You may be surprised that the emotional peak passes after about 90 seconds.
- Get curious – Often when we are triggered, it is because the situation recalls a past event from our subconscious that hasn’t healed. Why you are feeling that way? Dig deep. Is there any other reason you are feeling that way? When have you felt that way before? Who has made you feel that way before? Have you made others feel this way? Getting curious about it and reflecting on the answers will help you uncover what needs to be healed, and it is a great journaling exercise.
- Show compassion – You just got a lot of guidance from your emotions. Thank them for sharing their wisdom about what needs to be looked at and loved on. If you gave yourself a hard time, got angry with yourself, felt guilty or shameful for having the emotion, forgive yourself. Say it out loud, “I forgive myself for buying into the misconception that my emotions were shameful.” Use whatever words make sense for you. This will start to signal to your subconscious that having and expressing emotions is safe.
- Take loving action – You have three choices once you have new information; you can change the situation, change your mind about the situation, or you can choose to accept it as it is. Now is the time to heal that part of yourself that needs the love. That could include self-care like baths, meditation, dance, spa days, hikes, anything that fills up your self-love well. It could also mean changed to your life. What are you doing, saying, or thinking that is no longer working for you? Or are there people, places, or things that are no longer working for you? The choice and the responsibility are yours.
Once you start to reconnect with your emotions by bringing awareness to them, feeling them, getting curious about them, showing compassion towards them and yourself, and then taking loving action, you’ll notice a shift in how strongly or how often you get triggered.
You will most likely identify new triggers as the old wounds are healed. This is a good thing. It means you are healing and releasing things that no longer work for you so you can make more room for the things that do.
Keep working the steps, keep loving yourself, and keep healing.
Stay curious, my friends!
Photo Credit: Free photo 7797885 © Jose Antonio Sanchez Reyes – Dreamstime.com