Years ago I was waiting for my boyfriend – now husband – to come home one night. I noticed he wasn’t home when he said he was coming and I felt myself getting anxious. I called him and he didn’t answer and I got angry. At that moment I realized that I was being triggered and reacting in an unhealthy way because when this happened in some of my previous relationships it meant my partner was unfaithful. About 10 minutes later he walked in… I was about to yell at him and he pulled out flowers. He had stopped to get me flowers. I stopped, took a few deep breaths, and told him about my trigger instead of shutting down like I normally would.
Knowing when you are being triggered is so important because you may say or do things that sabotage your peace, your relationships, and ultimately your quality of life. When you can slow down the space between a trigger and an unconsciously chosen response, you get incredible feedback and space for healing.
Let me show you how to do this using pattern breaks.
If you find yourself being triggered, you’ve probably fallen into a fragmented part of yourself and it’s not authentically you in the now. Before you can see that there are more possible responses or meanings for the trigger, we need to step back a few steps so we can begin to see the situation from a bird’s-eye perspective as opposed to a cloudy tunnel vision perception. Remember that every situation is multifaceted, so finding meaning that resonates and thus empowers us, rather than drains us, benefits us greatly.
So let’s start with a pattern interrupt! A pattern break is a simple, actionable step you take once you become aware that you are being triggered/uncomfortable. The intent of a pattern disruption is to stop the flow of energy or typical default behavior that you would unconsciously choose that tends to make things worse.
A physical pattern interrupts: drop down and do 10 push-ups, stand in front of a mirror and do a silly dance.
A mental pattern break: Imagine everyone in the triggering situation speaking/looking like your favorite cartoon, or pause and note the importance you attached to what happened and if there are more perspectives than the disempowering one.
A Spiritual Pattern Break: Do a guided meditation, talk to your higher power, or visualize cutting energetic cords.
When done right, a pattern break should help relieve some of the tension you’re feeling, give you the opportunity to see more perspective, and ultimately stop sabotage behaviors that you would normally use by default that aren’t working for you . It literally rewires your brain and eventually that trigger ceases to exist.
So the next time you are triggered because you are arguing with your partner or your boss just chastised you, you will choose/create a pattern interrupt that will help you feel emotionally lighter than the typical action you would choose. That way, you can gain perspective and find an empowering action that actually heals what you’ve been subconsciously telling yourself, rather than making it worse.
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