We are into a new season! What does summer mean to you? Summer is sometimes associated with vacations, time off from September – May routines, and often a less rigid daily schedule. This is particularly true for many children. We may think of warm breezes, picnics, fireworks, baseball, watermelon, swimming, and sunshine. For some, it may also trigger unpleasant emotions associated with memories from earlier times. Maybe it was friends that hurt our feelings. Maybe someone in our family said or did something we felt was belittling, embarrassing, insulting, and you can fill in the blank for your own experience. It is important to remember that with growth we can look at things within a different context.
Triggers are feelings and emotions that are not equal to a specific event. It often signals a wound that is not yet healed. What’s important as we do our inner work is to remember that feelings have a purpose and can help us identify what is really going on under the surface.
The Mind replays what the Heart can’t delete.
However, that need not be the end of the story. If you are ready to do some work, you can take heart.
All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
Julian of Norwich
When we do the inner work, and this takes practice, we may learn to detach from what happened previously, and come to a place of neutrality. When we learn to recognize our feelings and detach from them, we may be able to step aside and view an event in a different light. This is not easy to do. Through practice, through meditation, or other exercises, we can learn to detach from the ego and see a new perspective. We learn that the “I” we experience claims to be our identity, but it is really our ego that is acting as our guardian. It is not who we are, only who we think we are. Our ego developed when we were a child and over time it strengthened as we grew. It was with us to serve as a protector and became a storyteller which associated feelings to memories.
Have you ever heard “I don’t remember what was said, but I remember the way it made me feel?” This ego serves a purpose which was intended to be helpful by signaling us when there is danger, or something is wrong, and in many other ways, not all of them negative. When we grow from painful experiences, however, we may see the event in a new light if we can separate out the feelings of the ego. When we can step aside and view an event from another place, we may come to see it differently.
Children are like sponges, soaking up everything and learning about the world with an open curiosity. When something painful happens, not only does a child absorb this pain, but the ego steps in and “learns” about this pain, this trauma, and the trigger comes into play reminding us of the feeling associated with it so we can protect ourselves, see it coming again. We recognize it by the feelings that are brought up again when familiar circumstances arise. Sometimes we can feel this in somatic ways: we develop a stomach ache, our insides become all twisted inside, or we develop a headache. Our heart may start pounding. All of these feelings have a purpose and that is to signal a potential harm that may surface.
When we are able to do the inner work of healing the wounds of our small child inside, we may begin to recognize this as a separate event, unrelated, and we may be able, in time, to move beyond those fight or flight responses which surface as triggers.
All Shall Be Well …. in time.