I am excited to share some wise words of wisdom that I personally needed over the last couple of weeks to deal with some tough times that may also help you during your tough times in life. The reality is that tough times are always around the corner, and the more we can manage our emotional, mental, and physical health during those times, the easier and quicker those tough times will pass.
Speaking of mental health, I want to recognize that it is Mental Health Awareness Month. I will be honest with you that I didn’t even know it existed until recently, but I’m glad it does exist, and organizations are bringing more awareness around mental health, especially since one in five Americans lives with a mental health condition.
I found out the other day that a famous writer by the name of Heather Armstrong, a mother of two children, committed suicide at the age of 47 years old. It breaks my heart that someone is struggling so much in life that their only way out of their struggles is to end their life.
This hits home for me, because not only have I known several people in my life to commit suicide, but my own brother struggled with addiction and mental health issues his entire life. Unfortunately, I watched his life end four years ago at the young age of 49. My brother’s mental health issues didn’t just affect him, but obviously they affected me, my parents, his children, his wife, friends, and family.
In other words, mental health issues are not exclusive to the one person alone, but instead it’s a horrible ripple effect of trauma and heartache that can cause emotional damage to several people in its wake. Not to mention, the effects can last for generations to come.
Unless of course, each person has the awareness to rise above it. I certainly know that it is easier said than done, but the effort is well worth it. It is well worth your own well-being and the well-being of those around you.
The absolute greatest lesson that I learned from the addicts in my life is this: you can only control yourself. You can take responsibility of your own mental health by taking care of yourself.
As much as you love that person who is struggling and as much as you want to help them, they have to help themselves. And believe me you, I spent decades, and I mean decades, trying to help my family with their addictions and mental health issues. Until one day I woke up and realized that by me trying to help them, I was hurting myself. I worried, stressed, and exhausted myself so much that my own well-being suffered. And therefore, that affected the people in my life as well.
It is obvious that the cause and effect of mental health issues are quite powerful. I am here to remind you of your own personal power and that YOU can break the cycle of mental health issues. You can take a stand for your own well-being and happiness and be the change you wish to see in your immediate world and the entire world. You can create a ripple effect of love, kindness, and compassion that can be felt all around the world for generations to come.
And that is why I do what I do every day –– to make a difference in the world, to break the cycle of mental health issues and to encourage people to take charge of being a good, loving, beautiful person in this world.
I certainly don’t have ALL the answers, but from all the trauma and drama I have experienced in my life, I have gained wisdom over the years on how to turn the negative into a positive, the sadness into happiness, and the dark days into bright days. I want to help you do the same. I am here to provide you with hope and teach you ways to cope. If I can help even one person out there to change their life for the better, then that makes me happy.
By the way, if anyone out there wants to work with Wendy, I have some openings for private one on one coaching. I offer power hour sessions if you simply need to gain clarity and need a little jumpstart to your midlife makeover. These unstuck sessions are normally $199, but in observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m offering them for only $99. If you are interested, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I am more than happy to help you.
If you require more accountability and time with me, I also offer total life redesign packages to help you deconstruct and reconstruct a new life. No matter what, I have packages to fit your needs. Just go to https://wendyvalentine.com/coaching for more information on my coaching packages.
Everything I just said in the last few minutes leads us into today’s topic of turning your triggers into treasures. Triggers can be tricky, but just like I said earlier about the cause and effect of mental health issues, it’s up to you to stop the trigger in its tracks and turn the trigger into a treasure.
So what are triggers? Triggers are a person, place, thing, or situation that can trigger an emotional response. Basically, your brain and body memorize traumatic events from your past, and in an effort to protect you in the future, your brain and body will go into a fight or flight response when you are reminded of that past traumatic event. Reminders can be in the form of a smell, sight, or sound.
For example, maybe a loved one passed away a few years ago on Christmas Day. And now every year when you hear the Christmas songs playing at the grocery store, it triggers your brain and body to remember your loved one, and you begin to weep in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store. That is a trigger.
Or maybe your father yelled at you as a child and said that you can’t do anything right. And now every time your boss walks into your office to discuss your latest project, you lose your shit if he doesn’t like something you did. That is a trigger.
It can also be something like the time you gave a book report in English class and the teacher made fun of you in front of the entire class. And then every time you spoke to groups of people as an adult, you felt embarrassed to speak. That example is actually a true example of something that happened to me in 11th grade. Needless to say, I transformed that trigger into a treasure and became a motivational speaker. Take that Miss Murphy!
Everyone reacts differently to their triggers. Some people panic, cry, act out, or withdraw. Just like in the examples above, it’s as though the person is living the past situation in the present moment. No matter if it was small trauma or big trauma –– little t, BIG T –– your brain and body can kick into fight or flight mode all over again. This is all very similar to PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, and it can come with physical reactions as well. When you are triggered, your heart can start beating rapidly, you can start sweating profusely, you can have flashbacks of the past event, and you can even have a full-blown panic attack. Been there, done that.
Sometimes you don’t experience anything in that moment, but it affects you later on with feelings of sadness and anger. That of course can result in you taking it out on those around you that have absolutely nothing to do with your past traumatic event, or your recent trigger of your past traumatic event. Therefore, your past is controlling you, and we need to get you past your past, so you can live peacefully in the present moment.
Again, everyone and everybody reacts differently, but the key is to become aware of your triggers, and to control your reactions, so the triggers do not control you.
Here are 4 ways to turn your triggers into treasures:
1. Tune into your body
Like I mentioned previously, your brain and body memorize past events to protect you in future events. The best way to identify your triggers and control your triggers is to tune into your brain and body. Don’t avoid your reactions, but instead face them head on.
When you feel your body reacting, check in with yourself. Do you feel it in your chest, your neck, your stomach? Where do you feel the trigger? How is your mind reacting? Is your mind thinking a million miles a minute or is it completely blank?
Ask yourself, “How do you feel?”
Most importantly, make sure you answer yourself:
“I feel like I want to crawl in a cave.”
“I feel like I want to punch this woman in the face.”
“I feel like a little kid again and I don’t have the right to speak up.”
“I feel embarrassed and ashamed.”
“I feel sad and lonely.”
Recognizing your triggers empowers you to get ahead of them. Instead of being reactive, you can be proactive. The definition of proactive is to create or control a situation by causingsomething to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened. You are controlling the trigger rather than the trigger controlling you.
2. Take a breather
Literally. Breeeeathe. You may be right in the middle of a conversation with someone, and you realize that this person or the topic of conversation itself is triggering you. If you are able to step away from the situation, then great, but if not, you can at least breathe through the trigger.
After you check in with your body and you tap into how you feel, take nice, deep, slowww breaths. One thing you can do is to breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and breathe out through your nose for a count of four. Repeat this over and over again to slow down your heartrate and breathing.
You can also place the tip of your tongue at fire point, which is located right behind your two front teeth at the ridge of your gum. This will help you relax your jaw, neck, face, and shoulders, which definitely tend to tighten when we are being triggered.
The worst thing you can do is to give into your triggers and unconsciously react to the situation. Depending on the trigger, you may need to practice these 4 steps several times before you can even understand your triggers and handle them properly. Some of my own deep-seeded traumatic triggers took decades of healing to finally manage them. Repetition is the mother of all skill though, right? It takes practice to train your brain and body to unlink those past events from your future events.
The key with step #2 is to simply give yourself a break. You’re not trying to solve your trigger, but just simply giving yourself permission to relax into it.
3. Tap into your emotions
E-motion –– emotion –– is energy in motion. Emotions are energy that need to move through you. If you avoid or push down your emotions, then they will become stagnant and murky like a puddle of muddy water. You must pay attention to your emotions so they can flow freely through you like a stream of clear water.
After you realize that you have been triggered, sit with the emotions that arise. Don’t be ashamed of being triggered. Just allow your emotions to surface.
I recommend grabbing a journal and writing down anything that comes to mind as to how you felt about the triggering moment.
Ask yourself, “What does this remind me of? How is this triggering event similar to an event in the past?”
When you make that connection, as difficult as it may be, you need to relive that moment in your past. Take yourself back to that difficult moment.
How old were you? Who was there? How did you feel during the event and after the event? How has that event shaped your life?
Look for patterns in the triggers of your past and how it affects you today. Once you can point those out, you’re able to prepare yourself for future triggers and avoid the effects of those triggers.
4. Heal the trigger
There are multiple ways to heal triggers and old wounds, but what works for one person may not work for another. Take it from someone that has been healing old wounds her entire life, it can be challenging to find the right key to unlock the treasure to your trigger. But is it worth it? Oh hell yes it is! It’s what will set you free to be your authentic and happy self. It’s how you can be emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy.
If you want to go about healing your triggers on your own then you can try a variety of methods such as reading self-help books, listening to podcasts such as this one, attending retreats, doing yoga, meditation, journaling, and most importantly, practicing lots of self-care.
Experiencing emotional trauma can be exhausting and it’s common to allow those emotional triggers to snowball and get bigger and bigger. I used to be the queen of making a mountain out of a mole hill. Now that I have the awareness, I’m able to prevent the snowball from getting bigger in my mind.
Make sure you cut yourself some slack and remind yourself that you are a human being being human. When you are triggered, it’s a natural response of the human body. You were born with emotions, so it’s normal to be an emotional roller coaster at times. Just allow the emotions to flow through you.
As I shared with you previously, I experienced a lot of trauma in my life, and there were some traumatic experiences that continued to trigger me over and over again. They were wounds that I needed help healing beyond the self-help books, meditation, yoga, and retreats, so I did seek help with a therapist by talking about the trauma in my life and even applying therapies like EMDR and ketamine therapy, which I spoke about in episode 86 titled Ketamine for Divorce, Depression and Dependency with April Pride. Check it out when you can. It was awesome!
Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you get the help you need, so you can find peace in your heart. You deserve to be happy and healthy, so you can go on to live a beautiful life. And that is the treasure of your trigger. That is the gold at the end of the rainbow.
Although we have all experienced tough times in our lives, if you heal from those struggles, they will make you stronger and more resilient. The more you practice overcoming these triggers, you will find that the next time you are triggered, it doesn’t have the control that it used to have over you. The trigger becomes weak, and you become stronger. The trigger loses its power and you become empowered.
That is what I want for you –– to be empowered through your triggers. Allow your triggers to teach you how to become the next best version of you.
Here again are the 4 Steps on how to turn your triggers into treasures:
1. Tune into your body
2. Take a breather
3. Tap into your emotions
4. Heal the trigger
Wash, rinse and repeat over and over and over again until you break the cycle of your trigger.
I hope you found this episode to be helpful and healing for you. If you know of anyone that needs to hear this episode, please send it their way. And if I can help you, please reach out to me. Again, I have some openings for private one on one coaching, and you can find out more at wendyvalentine.com/coaching.
Also, sign up for The Midlife News at http://themidlifenews.com to receive insider alerts on new episodes, live shows, free workshops, and special offers. I mentioned meditation earlier and I am launching my new midlife meditation series in the next few weeks, and subscribers of The Midlife News will receive a special discount. Hint. Hint.
Thank you again for listening! All of you are treasures to me and I appreciate your love and support of the show.
Have a great day!
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