Think of the last time you felt triggered and how that felt... notice it. Stay with it. Check in. I get it, it’s not a fun feeling to sit with... and why would we want to stay in that? And what if that’s exactly the problem?
So often we avoid sitting with those uncomfortable feelings because they are just that- uncomfortable! We try to immediately relieve that feeling and go to our coping skills. Some healthy and some not so healthy. As a therapist, I teach my clients that part of their new set of coping skills involves being very present with that uncomfortable feeling, because how do we truly heal if we are constantly applying Band-Aids over our wounds?
Now let’s talk about a few of these Band-Aids: substance use, binge eating, shopping, sex, internet/social media, gaming, gambling, etc. The common themes with these Band-Aids involve the following: easy access, immediate relief, and the most important one... avoidance! All of these involve avoiding what is actually happening.
So back to coping skills that involve sitting with the not-so-fun feelings. The more we are able to be present and identify with our emotions, the more we can move through them and externalize the feelings as something outside of our identity. We, as a society, are so used to immediate relief that we don’t know how to sit with our emotions when the “other shoe does drop” and are looking for anything to distract ourselves from what’s actually happening. It’s because if this that depression and anxiety exist... we’re using coping skills that are just Band-Aids and not allowing us to address the source of our pain to then eventually heal.
The thing is, that pain/trigger will return eventually. The more we learn to tolerate the discomfort, remind ourselves we can and will move through this, and validate ourselves for being able to do such challenging work, is then when we start to notice less and less of the triggers and know how to better cope the next time around. I KNOW that is hard... and I am not saying that as a therapist, but as another human being who too has gone through struggles and experienced pain. We as human beings are more capable than we think, and yes you can do hard things!