S05|06 - Triggers and Inner HealingAug 22, 2022
“Pay close attention to whatever triggers a reaction from you- your triggers reveal the spots where an ancient pain is still buried” - @meditationandloveco. Connection-based parenting comes intuitively and naturally from a healed space. As we dig into what our triggers are and why we have them- our healing can come. This is the best work we can do for our kids- the work that we do for ourselves.
What I go into today:
- What even is a trigger and how do I know I’m triggered?
- Triggers as teachers: what we can learn from them
- The 3 ways we respond to our triggers
- What inner healing means and how we can do this work
- Why inner healing for US is the most important thing we can do for out parenting
Coaching has changed my own life, and the lives of my clients. More connection, more healing, more harmony and peace in our most important relationships. It increases confidence in any difficulties that come up in parenting, which helps you be the guide and teach your children the family values that are important to you- in clear ways. If you feel called to integrate this work in a deeper way, that’s what I’m here for.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hi, I'm Crystal The Parenting Coach. Parenting is the thing that some of us just expected to know how to do. It's not like other areas of your life where you go to school to be taught, get on the job training, or have mentors to help you learn. Now, you can get that help here.
I believe that your relationship with your children is one of the most important aspects of your life, and the best way that you can make a positive impact on the world and on the future. I've made parental relationships my life study, and use life coaching tools with connection-based parenting to build amazing relationships between parents and their children.
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Hi, welcome to the podcast today, Triggers and Inner Healing.
What even is a trigger, and how do I know I’m triggered?
If you've been following me on Instagram – if you haven't, I'm the.parenting.coach, so go check me out there – I've been talking a lot about triggers.
Now, I'm going to discuss a little bit about what triggers mean, and then I'm going to get into inner healing, because I know that you probably hear that word from like therapists or counselors or coaches or – I don't know – influencers all over Instagram…and you're like, 'But what does that actually mean?'
I'm going to answer that question, and I'm also going to talk about what a trigger is. I think that, oftentimes, people feel like triggers mean that I'm really emotionally reactive, that I explode all the time. Now, that can be one way of showing a trigger ot feeling triggered, but that's not the only way.
The 3 ways we respond to our triggers
There's three ways in which we respond to a trigger;
One is that we react; we're aggressive…you know, we feel angry. We go against something; we lose it a little bit. And this doesn't mean that we yell every time; it could mean that we just are shorter in our tone of voice.
You know how sometimes you're like feeling angry inside and you're trying to keep the anger inside, you're definitely not like listening to the other person or listening to understand their point of view.
You're just like waiting to respond – or you're just upset in your brain about it and just thinking about you in the situation and not really listening to them. Your tone of voice is usually shorter, you can usually see differences in your body language; that's one way that we respond to a trigger.
A second way we respond to a trigger could be people-pleasing. So, this could be trying to make everybody feel better, like, 'Oh, no, no, no, it's fine'…or, 'Oh no, I'll do this'. Like saying yes when we don't really want to, we're trying to just take over everybody's emotions and make everybody in the room feel more comfortable.
This comes because we're not really comfortable with those big emotions; we don't know what to do with them, we don't know how to handle them, so we're like, 'Oh, let's shut this all down by making everybody else feel better,' while inside, you're still not feeling great.
So, people-pleasing and reacting are two.
3. Turn away
And the third one is to turn away; and turn away would look like withdrawing or disconnecting, shutting down, leaving the room – or even just like mentally or emotionally kind of leaving the situation…even if they're still talking, you're just like, 'Shut down.'
So, when I talk about a trigger, I mean anything that makes us feel emotionally charged – like, a pretty big emotional charge – that's what a trigger is. So, those are the three different ways we can respond to a trigger.
Triggers as teachers: what we can learn from them
But what a trigger really is, is a thought; all the trigger is, is a thought. We think that we're being triggered by our kids' behavior or by our partner or by something we saw on social media or a text that we got, but the trigger is actually a trigger thought or a trigger belief.
So, I'm going to take you through an example; if I tell my child to listen and they don't, and I'm like, 'Come here and pick this up', and they're ignoring me and they're ignoring me, and I say it five times…until, eventually, I speak unkindly or I shut down and withdraw, or I people-please, right, because I'm feeling triggered.
There's a thought behind that. The thought could be something like my kids never listen. But when we're digging into actual inner healing, we're not just trying to get to those like surface level thoughts – those first thoughts – we're trying to dig into why their behavior bothered us so much.
So, we might ask ourselves, what about my child not listening the first five times that I asked them bothers me so much? Do I feel like kids should always listen? Do I feel like if we had a good relationship, my kids would listen?
Maybe underneath that is like, children should respect their elders or children should always listen the first time. Like there might be some underlying beliefs or there is underlying beliefs behind just kind of that first thought that you might have.
And so, when we talk about inner healing and how to do inner healing, the very first step is uncovering what those beliefs are that we have.
Why this is so important to Connection-based Parenting; if we want to parent in an entirely different way than our parents parented – than their parents parented, than their parents parented…than what most of culture, media, people around us are parenting – we have to change it at the root.
We have to change it at the belief level. We can't just try to like stop ourselves from yelling. We can't just like breath through things and try to be like calm. We can't really fix it in a sustainable way, really change it in a sustainable way until we can uncover what's really going on with us…why it's hard for us to parent in a more gentle and a more connected way; and that's what those triggers are.
I love-- There's a lot of quotes about triggers being teachers, right? There's, triggers are there to teach us something.
There's a quote that I just shared on Instagram today that I love, and it says this, "Pay close attention to whatever triggers a reaction from you, your triggers reveal the spots where an ancient pain is still buried".
So, I think you probably understand a little bit more what a trigger is now, even if you're not the 'yelly type', like Yes, we are still triggered by other people around us, and now let's listen to that thing that's buried inside of us…why is that triggering us?
That is always the first step to healing, is awareness about what that is that's a trigger.
Now, what's interesting is that sometimes we logically don't believe it anymore…like maybe we're like, 'No, it's okay that kids don't listen sometimes, like I have a hard time listening sometimes too – that's okay.'
And, like, logically, we're okay with that. But in practice, when we're still feeling triggered by it, it's because emotionally or subconsciously, we still might hold that belief because it's oftentimes been passed down to us. It's at a little bit of a deeper level than just like logically being like, 'Yeah, I don't agree with that anymore, it's fine.'
Another quote that I love is; "Between stimulus and response there is space, in our response lies our growth and freedom". So, the whole purpose of uncovering our triggers is to change our response.
The stimulus is going to be the same. We still ask our kid five times before they listen or maybe they still don't listen after five times, but our response is different because there's a little bit of a pause there.
There's a little bit of a time for us to kind of pay attention, to connect with ourselves, to listen to what's going on in our brains and then to intentionally choose our reaction.
And this happens over time; it's not something we can just immediately switch. It's really, just what it is, is creating new neural pathways. So, we're used to this like input response, input response. We have the same response to the same input over and over and over again.
And that's like this huge, this pattern that's been beaten down that that's the path in, you know, on the hiking trail that everybody takes because it’s the easiest path and we just know exactly that that's the path, right?
But what we're trying to do is like carve our own new path in this trail where there hasn't been one, and it's not going to be easy to do that. It's going to take a lot of time and effort to change that response.
What inner healing means, and how we can do this work
One of the things I wanted to answer on this podcast episode, what does inner healing mean? And I had to talk about triggers first because inner healing is intrinsically tied to triggers.
So, now that you know a little bit about what triggers are and how we can respond to those triggers or how we often do respond – and how if we want to change our parenting, we have to change it at this root level, at this belief level – this is what inner healing is; inner healing is these more sustainable and long-term changes.
'Inner healing' is kind of one of those 'coachy speak' words that you might hear thrown around and you're like, 'What does that mean? Do I need healing? I don't know. I feel fine.'
Sometimes you might hear inner child healing.
One of the terms that I love the most is called self-mothering. So, self-mothering is that idea of becoming our own parent, becoming our own mother – in this moment, in this time – for ourselves.
And if you're a dad listening to this, you can do the same thing; self-fathering.
So, what do we mean by this? What does it mean to have this inner healing process? And what is self-mothering?
1. Believing that you are not broken
Number one, it's based on the premise that you are not broken. Integral part of healing is to understand that you're not broken; nothing's wrong with you, you're whole, you're perfect, you're lovable just the way that you are.
Oftentimes, people feel like if they love themselves wholly and completely and allow themselves just to be like, 'Okay, I am loved, I am wonderful, I am amazing, I am lovable'…that they will just let themselves off the hook, and then they'll just like go into their old parenting mode and just be like, 'Well, then I get to do whatever I want'.
But that's just our brain giving us the all-or-nothing thinking that it always does. The truth is I've done this time and time again. If you hear me talk about the model, I have a couple episodes on The Model; you can go check out – but it's CTFAR (Circumstance, Thought, Feeling, Action Result).
Every single time that I've put this into a model, when somebody feels bad about themselves, they're like, 'Oh, I'm not doing enough, I could be doing more'… that's in the Thought line.
The R line – the Result – the result that it creates is that we actually do less; we get farther away from our goal, and we do less of what we want to be doing. We show up in a way in parenting or in the world or in motherhood that we don't want to be.
And that comes from our thought; our thoughts are constantly creating our results. If you haven't heard me say that before, I'm going to say it again; our thoughts are creating our results, our thoughts are creating our reality…that's why our thoughts matter.
And it might sound like a useful thought to think, 'Well, I could be doing better…I should be doing better' – but if we're feeling discouraged or self-doubt or shame or frustration when we think that way, then we're actually going to get farther away from whatever goal it is that we have.
So, I want to conversely show you if you put it in the model – again, CTFAR – and a thought is something like, 'I'm whole, I'm complete, I'm lovable just the way I am, I'm of worth…I am enough', that's a great one…if we really believed that we're going to feel complete, we're going to feel love, we're going to feel compassion, we're going to feel confidence. And from those emotions, we are going to get closer to our goal.
So, if our goal is connection-based parenting – which it’s probably is if you're listening to this podcast – it's going to come from a certain fuel that's fueling that result for us, right?
And our fuel is our emotions or our energy and that energy is going to be compassion; the more compassion we have for us, the more compassion we have for the people around us. It is such an important principle. We think that we need to be harder on ourselves, but that never works.
I want you to think of like a baby; when a baby is born, we don't look at it and think, 'You should be talking by now, you should be walking, you should like help pay rent, you should help cook.' Like we don't have all these expectations of them; we just love them for like literally no reason.
They don't even do anything and we're just like, 'We love them, they're amazing'. There's just so much love we have for them. But why? Like, sure, they're cute – but, like, I mean, sort of, sometimes – but it's really just because they're these beings that are just lovely and amazing and full of worth and full of light, and we just love being around them…not because they do anything or not do anything.
And that's the same with ourselves. We can love ourselves just like we loved that baby that we birthed long ago or adopted or however that baby came into your life, that first time that you saw them and you just felt so much love for them.
Self-mothering is giving ourselves that energy for ourselves, having so much love for ourselves for no reason – not because we're doing things, not because we're not doing things…but just because, just because we're of worth, because of our value.
So, inner healing starts at that level first; believing that you're whole, believing that you're worthwhile, believing that you're of worth.
2. Shifting the self-concept
Number two, self-concept. We don't often think about ourselves or our thoughts objectively, and self-concept is how we view ourselves – how we perceive what we think about ourselves.
We each have a relationship with ourselves just like we do with people around us; and a relationship with other people is thoughts.
This might sound a little bit bizarre because you might not have heard me say this before, but I talk about it often; our relationship with somebody else is our thoughts about them, our thoughts about us, our thoughts about the dynamic of that relationship.
It all boils down to our thoughts because our thoughts create our feelings, our feeling fuels our actions; it's all about our thoughts when it comes to relationships.
So, going back to this idea of a relationship with ourself, it's our thoughts about ourselves; our self-concept is our thoughts about ourselves. Our self-concept is the lens through which we view the world; it's the glasses that we have on that we're walking around and viewing things through, filtering things through.
So, if someone says something to me, I'm immediately responding in a certain way because of my own self-concept because it's immediately filtered through that, through how I already think about me and I feel about me…and then kind of regurgitated and understood in my brain.
So, if we want to change anything in our life, we change it at the self-concept level first; it'll be so much deeper.
Most of our thoughts when we have what I call a thought error, an error would just be like maybe a thought that's not necessarily serving us or feeling useful might sound like this, Oh, I do it again…maybe I'm never going to figure this out…I'm never going to get this gentle parenting thing, it's too hard – or, I can never, I just don't feel connected to this kid…there must be something wrong with me, I just can't figure it out. Right?
Those kinds of either self-deprecating thoughts or self-doubt or like just discouraging thoughts, that's all about our own self-concept. And the basis of the root of those thoughts is like, I'm not doing enough or I'm not enough or there is something wrong with me, right? All of those thoughts are actually rooted in an emotion of shame.
I want you to imagine that you decided that you're going to go to the gym-- I've used this example before, if you've heard it, I love this example. But you're deciding you're going to go to the gym because you want to get more fit.
You're like, ugh. If you're like anything like me, I really love hiking. I'm terrible at hiking, I don't want it to burn my lungs so much when I hike; that is the only reason that I want to exercise, I want to be able to hike up a mountain and not feel like I'm dying every time I do it.
So, maybe I go to the gym; and I have two different mentors. One mentor is there and they're just like, 'Why didn't you come sooner? You're not coming to the gym often enough, you're not here long enough, you're not running fast enough, you're not-- you're doing this wrong, try again…you're never going to figure this out.' Right?
That mentor is probably not going to be super useful or helpful to me. I'm probably not going to want to come to the gym very often. I'm probably going to hate exercising in movement; it's not a supportive relationship for me.
Where on the other hand, if I had a mentor that was just like, 'You're actually doing really great, you're doing better than you thought you were doing, you're totally going to get this, you're going to figure this out, I love you'…that kind of a mentor, I'm going to be like, 'Yeah, I'm going to go to the gym more…like, that's amazing, I feel great about that relationship'.
We can have those kinds of relationships with ourselves and often our default mode is to have the relationship with like that first mentor of, like, not necessarily being the most supportive – and sometimes being the opposite of supportive to us.
So, I want you to think like, what thoughts do you have about yourself? What feelings do you have about yourself – and about how you parent, about your motherhood or your fatherhood, about how you show up in the world?
Becoming aware of your thoughts is one of the biggest keys to inner healing. If we don't even know how we think about ourselves or how we feel about ourselves, how are we ever going to change it?
And once we start to gain that awareness, we'll notice…a lot of times, we're like that first gym mentor – the one that's not super nice, when we kind of thought we were.
Oftentimes, I have people come to me…you know, we'll coach once or twice, they'll start to become more aware of their thoughts; they'll be writing them down, they'll be noticing them throughout the day.
And then they send me an email and they're like, 'Oh my goodness, something is definitely wrong with me because I thought that I was feeling better about myself, and then I started to become aware of my thoughts and I'm actually not very nice to myself at all.'
And I'm like, 'Don't worry, you're like everybody else I've coached, this happens all the time because we're not often aware how unkind we are in our brain about our thoughts, about our thoughts about ourselves, about our self-concept.'
So, once we become more aware, shifts will already start to happen…even without even trying, they'll already start to happen.
So, number two is just shifting the self-concept, becoming more aware of what our own self-concept is.
And going back to number one, number one is based on the premise that we aren't broken; that we're whole, that we're worthy.
3. Loving and accepting ourselves with all our shortcomings
Number three, growth and healing comes from loving and accepting where we are at, errors and all. When I say the term 'errors', I mean like a mistake or a failure; something that you would term a failure.
Maybe you yelled at your kids, maybe you didn't get as much done as you wanted to during the day. Maybe you weren't as connected or responsive as you wanted to be, or as focused, or you didn't feel fulfilled at the end of the day because you did something differently than you wanted to.
So, those are the kind of failures and mistakes that we just have all day as humans; it's just part of the human experience. Accepting and loving those, giving ourselves acceptance for that will actually help us be less hard on people around us.
So, if we have really high expectations of ourselves and we're feeling really terrible because every single time that we make an error, we feel bad about ourselves…we're actually going to be a lot harder on the people around us when they make errors also.
When our kids maybe don't listen or when our teen lies to us or when somebody doesn't do something that we want them to do, we're going to be a lot harder on them if inside we're harder on ourselves.
So, I want you to-- This is a little kind of exercise you can do that can help with this; what we're doing is we're giving ourselves what maybe we needed as a young child and we probably need right now.
So, I want you to think back to a time where you made a mistake, you made an error, and you felt really terrible about yourself…could be a time in your parenting, could be a time when you were younger. It could be a time when you were a teenager or a child.
Maybe you were yelled at. Maybe you were shut down. Maybe you had to go to your room. Maybe as a parent, you just felt terrible about whatever you did…I want you to think about that emotion, and how it felt.
And I want you to think about what you needed then. What would've felt the most supportive then in that moment when you made that error? Would it have been somebody coming and comforting you and holding you and just sitting with you, and not saying anything?
Oftentimes that's what it is, would have been someone coming and being like, 'You're doing your best…it's fine, it's fine…we all make mistakes, we'll try again.'
What would you have wanted to hear? What would you have wanted somebody else to be there with you doing? How would you wanted to have felt, and felt because of how they're feeling with you…when they're sitting with you, and just being with you?
The reason this is really helpful and powerful is because, oftentimes, there was times in our lives where we weren't very kind to ourselves or we were hard on ourselves or other people were hard on us when we were younger…and what we want to do is practice giving ourselves this love, this compassion, this empathy that we would have wanted in past times, giving it to ourselves right now.
You can actually do a visualization about this where you close your eyes and you take some deep breaths and you focus back on a time where you felt a really strong emotion like this…and you bring it up into your body – and you, kind of, breathe through this emotion and through this process.
And as you're doing that, you think about; what would feel most supportive right now, who would I want here with me? It could even be somebody that's passed on. Maybe it's like a grandmother that you felt really close to or really loved by. Maybe it's God, divine, the universe just being there with you.
I just want you to think, what did you need? Then maybe, what do you need now? Lots of times, it's just someone to sit there, not to say anything and just to hold space for you…to hold space for that emotion that you're feeling that feels so strong right then.
One thing I want to – a caveat – I want to talk about here, because I think it connects is what's called an empathy miss.
When we're hanging out with someone – it can be our friend, it can be our kids, it can be our partner – and they're feeling some of these emotions…and they're feeling some of these sadnesses or this grief or this shame…and we are uncomfortable around that emotion because we're not used to it, we don't like it, we want to make people feel better. An empathy miss is when we try to fix it.
So, fixing it would be like, let me stop your tears and make you feel better, let me explain to you why you should be feeling better. That's not actually empathy. Empathy is just like sitting with, holding space for, allowing; and that is what helps them move through it. It's not that trying to push them along, it's just sitting and accepting with them.
Okay. So, in review; number one, you're not broken…just allowing yourself to feel that wholeness and that self-worth.
Number two, self-concept; being more aware of how you think and feel about yourself.
And number three is loving and accepting you where you're at right now…with your mistakes and errors and all; and that will actually help you to be more loving and caring and compassionate to other people.
We can't be connected and compassionate, empathetic to other people if we don't feel that way towards ourselves first. And so, starting with us is always how we help them, right? It's us and then them; it will come with them naturally if we focus that way on us.
So, thanks for being here. Thanks for listening to my podcast. Don't forget to rate, review, subscribe, share with a friend, tag me, all those things so that we can get this message out into the world because it's so needed and I don't think it's told to people often enough. So, I would love it if you would share.
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