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Self-Awareness & Triggers

How well do you know yourself?

You know your name. Where you grew up. What schools you went to. You know your birthday and address. You know your favorite types of music, foods, hobbies and qualities or characteristics about yourself that make you, you. You create an identity as a young child about who you are and what your role is in this world.

You also learn what parts of you are praised and accepted and what parts of you are shamed and scolded. So you grow up having a general awareness of who you are and how you think you need to show up in order to be accepted or loved. Most of the time you share with others the qualities about yourself that you like or were taught were “good” but leave out the qualities that you might view as “bad” or “ugly” out of fear that someone might judge you or reject you. We as humans inherently want to be seen, loved and accepted, but have learned that we must only show the good parts. So we often don’t acknowledge or straight up avoid our negative traits.

What are the negative aspects of yourself that you don’t want anyone to see or know? What parts of you do you feel scared to express? How do you handle stress? What do you do when you feel angry or sad? What types of conflicts/disagreements do you find yourself in with the people closest to you? What about when someone says something bad about you? How do you react when someone says or does something that makes you feel uncomfortable or puts you on edge? Do you notice how your nervous system responds? Can you feel your defenses start to go up when you feel triggered?

This can take an immense amount of self-awareness, especially in the moment and is very difficult to notice at first. So often we are operating on autopilot and reacting from a place of past pain or experience that has not been processed or removed from the body. We stay stuck in a loop of trauma that we see no way out of. But really we are just reacting as we always have and don’t think twice about it. We think this is who we are now and “that’s just the way it is.” Our trauma ends up shaping us, but it doesn’t have to forever.

A song can come on the radio that instantly takes us to a memory from our past. If that memory is/was painful, that song alone can be a trigger to our bodies and bring a sense of perceived danger/not feeling safe for one reason or another. It will bring up thoughts and emotions to our present moment but the problem is, we are not present and we are not viewing the situation for what it is NOW. We react in the same way based on that past experience; as if the same thing is happening all over again. Our guard goes up, we become tense and closed off, our heart rate and breathing rate increase. We find ourselves hyper-vigilant and over-analyzing.

Our nervous system remembers this and it knows what to do. It puts on its armor, ready to fight, defend and protect any part of us that feels threatened. A defense mechanism to keep us safe so that we don’t feel that way we did that one time, ever again. It’s like, “don’t worry, I gotchu boo.” But the truth is, this act of protection also keeps the past experience/trauma stuck in our body-mind so that we can’t move forward or grow past it. And we repeat the same cycles.

So I ask you this again: how well do you know yourself?

Can you expand your awareness to view yourself objectively to witness your behavior and why you do the things you do? Why you think the way you think? Why you are the way you are?

The more you practice observing yourself the more you will see (if you are willing) that what triggers you is a direct reflection of what demands attention within you. Majority of the time, the problems we have with people/things outside of ourselves is really just a projection of the unhealed/denied/repressed parts of ourselves that we are unwilling to see or unwilling to accept. It’s a lot easier to point fingers and place blame on other people or happenings outside of ourselves than it is to admit that we have any issues or that we need help.

The first step to healing is awareness. Are you willing to go within to uncover the parts of you that beg to be exposed, seen and healed? Next time you feel triggered, pause, take a few deep breaths and remind your nervous system that you are safe. Sometimes the first part of awareness is first realizing you are triggered. Then you can begin to observe what happens in your body/mind and ultimately choose to stay in that familiar trauma loop or make a decision to go a different route. This will take A LOT of practice, patience and acceptance.

The longer we avoid the dark, scary, painful and ugly parts of ourselves, the more overwhelming and uncomfortable they will become. Our “stuff” will show up in various ways begging for attention and pleading for us to integrate these parts into our being as part of us.

Our soul already knows we are whole and perfect. Our body knows exactly how to heal and really wants to; that’s why it’s constantly giving us signals. We just have to pay attention, get out of our head and then get out of our own way to allow the healing to happen.

Know that you are loved and supported as you bravely move through your darkness to reveal the light that is already shining within you.


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