Our emotions are fluid, they change in varying degrees depending on what is going on around us. For the most part our emotions are what guide us in life, driving our thoughts and behavior. Some take the view that it is purely thoughts that dictate our emotions, personally I take the stand that they are interchangeable, especially when you are aware of your thoughts and apply methods such as positive affirmations, mindfulness etc. in an attempt to intentionally shift negative emotions.
Think of a time when you woke up on let us say the right side of the bed, there was nothing major you were worried about at the time and everything was just flowing nicely. From this emotional space, the actions you take throughout your day are going to be positively attuned to your environment. Now think back to a day when you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, you know those days where everything is just going wrong, you’ll drop your cup of coffee followed by stubbing your toe and then you’re running late and catching every red light on the way.
These issues are trivial things in the grand scheme but your frustrated self couldn’t care regardless which results in projecting this in your environment for the rest of the day or as long as you let the emotions control your inner world. It is during these times that we benefit from being aware of our emotions, by intentionally attempting to regulate them by rationalising our thoughts will mitigate the feelings of anger, frustration and stress being experienced.
The people who trigger us to feel negative emotion are messengers, they are messengers for the unhealed parts of our being. – Teal Swan
Now here is my focus, think of a time where an event, prospect or person triggered strong emotions within you which created a strong negative internal disturbance. Where you experienced instant feelings of anger, shame, inferior, upset, self-doubt, panic & jealousy that consumed you at least momentarily and caused reactive behaviour. We objectively view our external world from our inner world based on generalisations and extrapolations from our past which have collectively created our belief of self and others. We may be consciously aware of some of these things to a degree or unbeknown to the fact that there are unhealed issues ingrained in our subconscious from as far back as childhood. The reality is that it doesn’t matter how much time has passed, your body remembers unhealed hurts and beliefs which will continue to be triggered until you’re ready to take inventory on your life, delve into past to seek out the connection to your current self, and I can assure you the link will be found.
To construct meaning to what I am saying I have found myself easily triggered in situations to which I strongly felt inferior to another person or experience, undesired or unloved by romantic partners, criticized, unwanted and unheard. I can not deduce these experiences as reality as the emotions felt in these situations were based on the belief that I was not good enough which unknowingly effectively distorted my perception of self and other peoples intentions and actions. I experienced these triggers by internalising my emotions of upset, jealousy, shame and anger triggered in me by withdrawing and shutting down or reacting in a cold, angry or spiteful manner towards people I blamed or towards others that have no idea what they or someone else has evoked within me.
In an attempt to understand why I have felt this in the past and why it continually comes up despite already going through some self-growth is where I found this wound stemmed from a collection of memories and events going back as early childhood, things I never thought deeply about and certainly didn’t think could have an effect on me as a grown adult.
Despite having a wonderful stepfather and mother in my life, I came from a broken family which in my eyes meant a parent was deliberately not present in my life. I understand now people have their own reasons for the things they do and what you see to be true isn’t always reality. However, as a young child this can create a belief that you aren’t wanted, not loved and that people will abandon you again in the future which it did for me. I carried this belief through life whilst going through school where I tried to fit into certain groups in an attempt to adapt to others with the aim of masking or changing aspects of myself that I believed weren’t good enough. Romantic crushes and relationships exposed me to cheating and the sense of rejection which just heightened my belief that I must not have been good enough or worth loving. In every situation where I felt unseen, ignored or rejected by others or experiences only added to the beliefs that ran deep within.
We all experience life differently so what I have experienced will obviously be different for you, you may have come from a happy functional family with a few siblings but found it difficult fighting for one or both parents affection, feeling as though you weren’t as loved or talented as another sibling and constantly compared to which is relevant to your constant need to prove yourself to others and desire for superiority today. It could even just be one statement Uncle Barry said to you when failed at something and it has just stuck with you your whole life or it could even be something you witnessed someone close to you go through. Whatever your triggers and wounds are, the link to your past remains the same. Regardless of how much time has passed, your body remembers and what remains unhealed will serve to remind you.
Knowing this will also make you aware when others are behaving from this emotional space, so it is important to not only understand yourself but to also be understanding of others. What other people project on you isn’t because of you, rather it has something to do with themselves. So as you would be compassionate to yourself find compassion towards others as well. Nothing good comes from responding to negativity with more negativity, instead you can enlighten them with actions that they may awaken to do one day too.
When someone is vicious toward you they are giving you a glimpse of the pain they carry in themselves. – Bryant McGill
In essence, triggers aren’t pleasant yet the sufferance provides us with a lot of insight to self. Know that these bittersweet experiences serve as invitations for healing and an opportunity for more growth. Being aware of your emotional self and understanding underlying issues will give you the power to recognise these triggers as they start to surface, the knowledge to gain in overcoming them and the resilience you build when you take control of your emotions ensuring they don’t take control of you.