Triggers – a personal story

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I’m no expert. I have lived with triggers all my life but didn’t know they were triggers until I was in my late 30s.

It was a body memory evoking trigger [that lasted] ten years

What is a trigger in terms of a psychological phenomena? Wikipedia describes:

trauma trigger is the subjective attribution that a psychologic stimulus caused someone to recall the memory of a previous psychological trauma, although the stimulus itself need not be frightening or traumatic and can be indirectly or superficially reminiscent of an earlier traumatic incident. Trauma triggers are related to posttraumatic stress disorder(PTSD), a condition in which people often cannot control the recurrence of emotional or physical symptoms,[1] or of repressed memory.[2][3][4] Triggers can be subtle and difficult to anticipate,[1][5] and can sometimes exacerbate PTSD. A trauma trigger may also be referred to as a trauma stimulus or a trauma stressor.[6]

Remembering times in my past where I had been mildly dissociated. I surmised that I may have been triggered and didn’t know it. Then there were the blackouts with substances and then without substances where triggers were most definitely involved, but impossible to identify.

I told myself that my body felt safe

One of the first pervasive triggers that I experienced lasted during all my waking hours for ten years. It was was a body memory that evoked triggers but in the beginning had no emotion attached to it and then there were fleeting feelings of sadness, grief and moments of profound depression. After those feelings passed the one that remained was rage. It was always there in the background.

The body memory was related to sexual trauma and PTSD symptoms. The specific body memory was a sensation in my jaw that someone was trying to open my mouth and I was resisting with all my might.

One of the difficulties with triggers are identifying that I have been triggered.

I told myself that my body felt safe enough to remember the trigger. Each time I noticed the body memory trigger its physical sensations and accompanying emotions I told myself that my body was releasing the memories.

One day after ten years I woke up and thought: “Something is different.” When I first acknowledged that the body memory had ceased it came back immediately. Within a few days it disappeared. It returns occasionally but is no longer a fixture in my life.

One of the difficulties with triggers are identifying that I have been triggered. Sometimes it has taken me days to realize I have been triggered especially if I feel angry or rageful with a seemingly rational reason.

The nature of being triggered flips me into being isolated because perpetrators isolated me to abuse me.

There have only been three times where I have been able to identify the source of the trigger. One was the body memory of sexual abuse, already mentioned above. I was with a client in his home. He pursed his lips a certain way and I had a visceral response of wanting to punch him and beat him up. I had to bite my tongue to calm down and restraint myself from beating him up. Why the trigger occurred was not in doubt, what it was – was uncertain.

In October of 1995 when I was driving back from having had therapy in Pt. Reyes Station I was driving under a plume of smoke from the Mt Vision fires that destroyed over 40,000 acres. The smoke made the sun red as it set. When I returned home I was inconsolably in tears. I called my therapist – why was I so upset? I had asked. “The fire is big and out-of-control just as your perpetrators were when you were young.” She suggested I use a coping tool to calm down and manage the trigger. I did.

The problems with most triggers are:

  • An environmental cue activates trauma from our past.
  • Once triggered we often enter a regressed or frozen state when we had been traumatized – and may not realize we have been triggered (a call for help to a support person or persons may be useful).
  • We may act out as a result of having been triggered. (This can be mild to major and perhaps life-threatening).
  • We may appear non-rational to others where they may shun us or they may also get triggered.
  • The desire to identify and control future triggers may consume us. Realizing this is an impossible venture is a good first step to work on defusing and working with future triggers.

The nature of being triggered flips me into being isolated because perpetrators isolated me to abuse me. So when I get triggered, especially when I don’t realize I am triggered I isolate. It was a strategy I used as a child to survive. It may or may not have worked very well but when I am triggered and don’t know I am triggered it remains my “go-to” strategy.

Thinking about what “just happened” and analyzing it with the thought that “If I can figure it out I can – know what happened to me; – I can prevent it from happening again.

Thinking was what I used as a child from inside the trauma to survive is a habit. But it doesn’t necessarily work very well to solve the emotional trigger of the trauma. Its one of the ways I perpetuate remaining isolated and lost in a regressive or frozen state of trauma from the past.

Its good to have a preemptive plan to deal with triggers in advance so we can get the help we need until we reach a place where we can deal with triggers more effectively.

This is where a therapist can assist or a self-help guide.

I have found that when I know that I’m triggered that I tell myself I am ready to handle it because I’m aware that I’ve been triggered. However if I’m triggered but am not yet aware of it, I know that I feel stuck, agitated, and/or distressed emotionally I try one of the following options:

  • I reach out for support
  • I ask for feedback
  • I ask for help
  • I sit with my feelings and try to identify what they are before taking any action.

This is just a sample and in no way is what I recommend.

What I do recommend is for you to come up with your own safety plan for dealing with emotional upsets, stuck places and triggers.

[NOTE: I was triggered by my partner when we were hiking Mount Tamalpais (in Marin County California). I told her. She wanted to take responsibility by wanting to know what she had done to trigger me. I told her I didn’t know and that it wasn’t her fault. I told her that I just wanted her to know in case she felt me pulling away from her during my process of the trigger and using my safety measures. I’m not sure she understood and decided not to tell her again if I had been triggered due to her response.

Often in dysfunctional relationships we put responsibility on others for our emotions. This is a reaction that does not make another responsible for our response. We have feelings. In relationships – couple therapy is a good idea to help resolve interpersonal communications and dysfunctional dynamics. Individual therapy can be useful too.

When a trigger brings up a feeling in one person and that one person blames another for their trigger – this is an incorrect understanding of a trigger. Conversely of a non-triggered person enters into an interaction with a triggered partner for example especially if the triggered person is unaware they have been triggered then a mess ensues. If the triggered person becomes aware they have been triggered and the non-triggered partner attempts to intervene – to fix the situation then what occurs still could result in a mess.

One possible way to prevent a trigger from creating a mess would to speak with your partner about your triggers. Explain to them they are in no way responsible for the emotional reactions they – the triggered person, may have and that they may need:

  • space
  • try to be patient – wait
  • for the non-triggered person not to make assumptions
  • know they are in no way responsible for having been triggered.

A Daily Plan

  1. images
  2. The Flush: a ten to fifteen minute rant on Trump, make it funny if possible
  3. Data: gather data on FLIPPING CONGRESS AND THE NATION, PLUS legislation to support or oppose.
  4. BREATHE
  5. ACTION PART ONE: look at legislation to oppose and / or support make 3 phone calls and send emails – 1 member of House of Reps and 2 Senators preferably in your state to start.
  6. BREATHE
  7. ACTION PART TWO: look at budget and who and how much to contribute to candidates (progressive and/or Dems guys*) opposed to GOP agenda and contribute
  8. BREATHE
  9. ACTION PART THREE: make report on social media

BREATHE!

* guys – womens, mens, androgynous-es, transgenders, gays, lesbians, genderqueers, asexuals and everybody else.

PS This is not about real soup you eat or slurp. This is about the soup we’re in. Hope that clears things up. Tuff if it doesn’t.

A Failed Winter (and Summer) Olympic Sport from the 1950s

Many don’t know that this failed sport went on to become a lifesaving technique.

That’s right. I bet you didn’t know that the Heimlich maneuver was a failed Olympic Sport.

 

Okay the winter version was better for vegans and vegetarians.

 

Skates on.

Swallow a chunk of pork sausage while skating fast down a long runway CHOKING and carrying a chair.

 

Throw yourself on the chair back just below your rib cage at the end of the runway

EJECTING the chunk of sausage over burning hot coals.

 

Whose ever sausage chunk goes the farthest before bursting into flames gets the Gold.

 

Many participants wear helmets and fire retardant suits in case they fall into the hot coals.

And many wear Hiemy Straps to help prevent accidental rib brakes.

 

Voted as TOO DISGUSTING for the Olympics. Also many broke their ribs with the Hiemy Strap and one person did choke to death because the performed the move incorrectly. A summer version was also tried with the same results.

Lost and – Found

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As I get older I seem to lose stuff. I lost my cell phone a few years back, called my provider had them deactivate the account and then a few hours later found the phone. Where? It was where I had left it. But I didn’t employ the finding techniques I have sometimes used to find lost or misplaced stuff.

A friend who has since passed into another life without her body passed on this technique:

The Eye-Flicking – Remembering where I put It – tool

The women that discovered / invented EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) for dealing with people suffering from PTSD, used eye movement to recover and reintegrate repressed memories. My friend said – though this may not have been accurate that the woman, Francine Shapiro was flicking her eyes back and forth to allow a memory to return. My friend said it was possible to move throughout one’s home – flick your eyes back and forth – not in an attempt to visually find the object that you lost but to uncover the memory of where it was. This worked for me a few times.

Cleaning one’s house tool – Frantically cleaning your house to find where you misplaced stuff – works sometimes but not enough.

The Tony-Tony tool – was given to me by a good friend of Italian-American heritage who passed away too young (in my book). Tony is short for St. Anthony finder of lost objects and who also had an undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick. Here’s how this works:

  1. begin with this chant: “Tony, Tony, come around, something’s lost and must be found.” It could be chanted x3.
  2. Wait until it shows up – up to 48 hours
  3. If it shows give anywhere from $1 to $20 to St. Anthony’s to help feed the poor at Christmas.

This worked the best for me. Back in the day when I didn’t have much money to give I started with a dollar. When it reached 10 found items of more I wrote a check to St. Anthony’s of San Francisco, CA.

The Principle of Creating a new kind of Prayer

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Language and time creates an artificial separation between the ever present now and a future. There is no future. It is there in our minds as something we believe to be true based on language and the trick of ego.

When we pray or ask the universe for something to happen from the future we reinforce the illusion of separateness. This keeps us from having or achieving that what we wish to create. We are separated from having or achieving due to the action of wish in relationship to time. The past and future are illusions that we invented through language to manage the world. Time is now. Even money is the currency of this illusion.

Let’s say there has been a drought or fires and rain is needed.

Go to a place in your neighborhood in nature where you feel a connection or a feeling of awe and power. Take off your shoes and socks if you wish. Stand on earth – grass or soil, twigs or leaves and feel the water beneath your feet, the mud or soaked socks and shoes (if you didn’t take them off). Smell the scents of earth after a long rich rain. Feel earth’s relief and looseness with the richness of plentiful water. Feel the wet on your skin, hair and clothing from the rains. See the drought or fire ravaged areas having been rained upon.

 

Give thanks.

“Why Traps” – an Affirming Present or a Future Expectation of Negative Outcomes

brain_f2 Psychoanalysis uncovers the genesis of a problem or problems rooted in the unconscious and when understood by the conscious mind there is an occurrence of healing. This is a vast oversimplification and it belongs to a world of mechanistic cause and effect relationships with an assumption that the mind unlocks healing.

Our brains are hardwired for fear and possible negative outcomes.

This myth is perpetuated into logical thought and the some of shortcomings of the scientific method. In other words psychoanalysis has perpetuated an assumption that thought and the will can overcome unconscious traumas of childhood. That would be true if everyone lived in a cause and effect world.

Fears and anxieties based on an expectation of a negative outcome is an urge some people to begin to try and think how to escape the negative outcome. This in-turn encourages more thinking to solve the problem. This is the cycle of worry or obsessive thinking. The pattern of this kind of thinking may soothe the thinker for a nanosecond but then initiates the obsessive pattern again. The worrier doesn’t use fear to attract the negative outcome to themselves but allows them to find situations were the negative pattern manifests. [People come to me and ask about romantic relationships they inevitably say they feel in-love for the person because it feels “right” and “familiar”. The root word of “familiar” is family. After a few dates I suggest some questions. If the person asking me is a woman talking about a man, I ask the woman about her relationship with her father. I suggest that the woman ask the man about his relationship with his mother. You get the idea.] The family we were raised in represented a particular world. Some offspring leave the world of the dysfunction – often cause and effect relationships for a world in the present and they may slip back into the cause and effect world when encountering a parent or two or siblings. The function of expectation for a negative outcome is key and this is often an unconscious process.

When we humans feel joy and happiness expectation falls away.

Our brains are hardwired for fear and possible negative outcomes. This took place over a long period of time probably tens of thousand of years and was based in survival against real danger, such as being attacked and eaten by predators. Eventually the patterns that helped our ancestors cope with dangers were substituted with fears based on anxieties about our negative expectations of a future based on a causal world.

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When we humans feel joy and happiness expectation falls away. These are emotions that expand and uplift and belong to a different reality than the expectations of negative outcomes and how to solve them. Expectations of negative outcomes and its solution – obsessional thinking curl us into self-protective loops that create conditions for suffering and breakdowns. Joy and happiness belong to a separate reality divorced from expectation and in the world of the present.

This takes a compassionate neutral place within our Being.

I had a friend that would ask me “Why?” to whatever subject she was grappling with at the time. I would answer that “Why?” questions assume that if one knew the reason for this or that problem then there would be a self-evident solution. “Why” questions belong to the cause and effect world of psychoanalysis. Cause and effect worlds are less complex and predictable. The Higher Worlds predicated in the present are more complex because the emotions of joy, happiness and love open us and make “Why” questions superfluous. The intellect and rational thought is not the answer to everything.

Overcoming worry and causal realities takes time and effort. Awareness is the first step. Awareness must be free of judgment. The spin of worry / obsessional thinking must be observed without judgment. This takes a compassionate neutral place within our Being. This place requires cultivation. Once the force of a witness is sufficiently cultivated we become aware when we are obsessing and have an expectation for a negative outcome.

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A conscious breath may be enough to interrupt the pattern for a second. The use of distraction, moving out pattern of thinking to feelings of hope and joy may help us shift out of the pattern. Repeated efforts along these lines are necessary throughout our lives because of the hard-wiring of our brain explained above. For a better habit to replace a bad habit- especially one that is hardwired into our brains must be continually practiced.

I have noticed that breakthroughs into other worlds and even into a “place” beyond time are possible.

 

A practice of saying “thank-you” from the heart

As a recovering perfectionist I learned how to receive compliments and let go of doubt, low self-esteem and the constant need to be perfect in just a moment.

I was attending a Gurdjieff (Spiritual) School in the early 1980s. We were organized into groups for the first semester based on type. I was in a group of individualists who were creative, inventive loners, not playing well with others and had a cynical / angry / awkward edge to each of us. Our team / cooperation skills weren’t very good and so we were assigned to repair a truck gather wood while other groups worked on construction projects – finishing a greenhouse and building a loafing shed, and working on building a house. Our lack of teamwork and inexperience became evident when cooking a dinner. Our first dinner cooked by the ten of us for ourselves and 30 other students was a disaster. The appointed manager didn’t know what he was doing. But we improved.

After Thanksgiving I was manager for a meal. A woman from a group that made the best dinners approached me just before an evening class and congratulated me on doing a good job. I started to say that it could have been better (or perfect). Her reaction to my self deprecation was disappointment. In that moment I felt her praise, took it into my heart, looked her in the eyes and said:

                                                   Thank-you.



I saw that she was warmed by my acceptance of her compliment. This demonstrated an important principle of energy exchange.
It demonstrated a cycle of giving and receiving. When we work to accept a compliment in a heartfelt way we allow ourselves to receive a gift from another. When we say: “Thank-you” and look the person giving the compliment in the eyes we honor that person and acknowledge their gift with tender loving kindness. They gave us a compliment from a place of love and we have returned that compliment in kind. Giving and receiving is not a closed loop, it opens and allows energy to build.
The logical end of giving and receiving is a new economy based on community, cooperation where all are included…

A Quick No-Think Grounding Method

imagesHere’s a quick way to get grounded and centered in the body quickly:

  1. Go into your kitchen or a place where there is a firm counter-top.
  2. Stand facing about a foot to six inches away from the counter-top.
  3. Put your finger-tips underneath the lip of the counter-top (below the molding).
  4. Focus your attention on your feet as you pull up with your finger-tips under the counter-top.

 

Notice the isometric tension in your body.

 

Do you feel in your body, grounded and centered?

Why NOT go to a Psychic?

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Originally published on April 6, 2010 – now with updates

Context:

As technology and social change have accelerated beginning in the 1980s humans have resisted these changes and seek reassurances from psychics and other spiritual gurus that “I am going to be okay.”

In 1992 the frequency of the planet changed and the way of the patriarchy died and something new was born. No one knows exactly what the new energy is like or how it will manifest. Our proclivity as humans is to remain the same until whatever new future is deemed “safe”. The patriarchy is hanging on – one need only look at the election of Donald Trump to see a desire to return to simpler times while in denial of a complex world.

 

When one asks a psychic about one’s future there are a number of underlying assumptions we’d all like to be true:

 

  1. There is a future that can be nailed where anxiety and fears are removed, then I can know I am safe and happy.                                                                                                        ~ one possible solution: breathe through anxiousness and face fears as a way towards mastery. When we put off safety and happiness in the future we are always chasing it rather than acknowledging we may already feel safe and happy because we decided.

 

  1. I give up my power to the psychic (a parent-figure perhaps?) instead of co-creating my future with spirit.                                                                                                                         ~ one possible solution – breathe and be your own psychic – perhaps through meditation

 

  1. I believe that some “thing” in my future will make me be okay.                                             ~ see possible solution in #1

 

  1. There is something wrong (or I am bored) with me in the present – I am incomplete.      ~ one possible solution – perhaps peace is the flip side of boredom? The present is all there is. Decide you are complete, peaceful and there is nothing wrong with you.

 

  1. The content of my life (what my ego identifies with) is what makes me happy. Things and having allow me to feel secure and owning happiness – “I am in-control.”                                                                                                                                                  ~ one possible solution – begin with a gratefulness practice. How are you happy right now? Make a list or just contemplate this.

 

  1. I have forgotten what real happiness is (like when I was a kid) and have traded my happiness for “I’ll be happy when I have…” thus confusing content for being (an other way of stating number 4).

 

  1. I believe “magic” can make things happen and I don’t have to work for it.                          ~ one possible solution — making a space for unplanned events to unfold while cultivating your intuition can open doors to “magic”. Intuition may be a “spotty” thing, but without a practice to exercise intuition the the logic of daily life fills up everything and where’s the fun in that?

 

Anyone with intuition can see your expectations and tell you the logical conclusion to them – thus posing as a psychic and maybe doing a good job of it.

Life is 99% hard work and maybe 1% miracles or good luck. There are many factors in manifesting the content or things of our lives. Remembering that we are already happy can be increasingly difficult because we have forgotten how to play like children and have heaped personal, family and society beliefs on our plate and forgotten how happy we once were.

Once I began cultivating being within myself working towards “the future” became easier knowing that whatever happens to be “I am okay” inside.

Effective Manifestation – an example – bringing in a life partner

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– Making Full Use of Affirmations

The chief problem with affirmation effectiveness comes from both an illusory notion that our minds are all-powerful and a disconnection from other parts of our selves.

 We forget that we have emotions and an emotional center.

We forget we have a physical body.

 Okay, we don’t really forget these parts of ourselves we assume that these two other centers in us are part of that affirmation without acknowledging their true importance. As a result of this assumption we draw our emotions and our physical presence from an automatic or mechanic place so that the power of these centers may be greatly reduced.

In a workshops I have given on Mastery, we work with affirmations from a Full-Bodied Manifestation perspective can lead to greater results. I invite you experiment with contacting the center of emotions, your heart and the center of the physical body or moving center – the second chakra and incorporating the energies from these centers in your affirmations.

Get a special notebook that you will use for your affirmations and a pen that you will only use to write your affirmations. Write a vision statement/description of your involvement / relationship with that which you want to manifest – such as your beloved. Look at your vision statement before you write you affirmations.

Write in the morning when you wake and/or at night before going to sleep. Here is an affirmation for bringing in a lover or life-partner:

I, your First and Last name, am in a loving relationship with (the man, woman or being) of my visions and/or profile.

I, First and Last Name, deserve to be in this relationship.

I, First and Last Name, am creating opportunities for us to meet.

_______

You, First and Last name, are in a loving relationship with (the man or woman) of your visions and/or profile.

You, First and Last Name, deserve to be in this relationship.

You, First and Last Name, are creating opportunities for the two of you to meet.

_______

She or He, First and Last name, are in a loving relationship with (the man or woman) of his/her visions and/or profile.

She or He, First and Last Name, deserve to be in this relationship.

She or He, First and Last Name, are creating opportunities for the two of them to meet.