Tag Archives: Triggers

365 Days Later

2015 sucked. Yes I’m being that blunt. While there were highlights, generally speaking, I couldn’t wait to see 2015 go.

365 days ago, at the exact moment this blog post was published, my family lost its matriarch and I lost one of my best friends. Losing my grandmother shook my family to its core and one year later, all of us are still feeling aftershocks.

While I certainly miss Nana and think about her everyday, her death triggered much more for me. As I watched my mother and aunt tend to her tirelessly, I thought to myself: this is going to be me one day. I will be responsible for my parents and I will have to say goodbye.

It was during this realization that for the first time I actually felt like an adult. As we laid my beautiful Nana to rest and handled the details, I grew up, almost instantaneously.

Grief comes in waves, striking us in the least opportune moments. We can’t control this no matter how much time has passed since the trauma. But what else comes with grief? For me, it brought along a paralyzingly fear. Fear that those I love most would suddenly rise to heaven leaving me here hopeless and terrified. I made decisions based on this irrational fear. It influenced my personal relationships and professional interactions. It consumed me. All the time. Even when I wasn’t aware of it. I’d think I was getting ahead of it only to experience another painful loss that put me right back where I started.

It is only thanks to two of my colleagues who asked some profound questions that got me recognizing this emotion and how it shows up for me. This fear isn’t going away but I am much more aware of how it attacks the most innocent of situations. No matter how petrified I might be, I can’t control destiny. I can’t save anyone. I can live each day making decisions based on my happiness, not my fear.

I share this with you my friends so you know you’re not alone. Whatever you’re feeling after a traumatic event is justified. I’m so glad someone gave me the permission to feel all the feels. It was what I needed. I hope you can too, so we all can begin to heal and move forward.

I am forever grateful to my angel grandmother, for teaching me so many of life’s lessons even from afar.

Feb 2015 370

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

In my last post, I wrote about the power of storytelling. Stories help convey our values, purpose and brand. But what happens when that oh so powerful story is a lie we repeat to ourselves often?

Much like fairy tales, our personal narratives were constructed at an early age, whether we believe it or not. The people closest to us helped to develop these stories, both positive and negative, that we end up carrying with us through life. So, if you were told you weren’t good enough your entire childhood, chances are you’ve carried that baggage with you through adulthood.

Another thought is that we may have perceived situations as children and translated them into negative stories about ourselves. The mother who was tough on her kids was merely preparing them for life’s challenges versus how a teenager might have perceived this tough love. Either way, the stories we tell ourselves can both help and harm us in the long run.

For me, the stories I create in my head are absolutely dramatizations of reality. I’m still trying to figure out why this is. I’m assuming it has something to do with my personal triggers. Triggers are scenarios that prompt an emotional response. Note: this emotional response can be extremely positive or extremely negative. Triggers, much like personal stories, are deeply rooting in your past experiences.

I tend to obsess about certain situations, then create a false story in my head that in turn solicits an emotional response. See what kind of chain reaction I have going on here? It’s not healthy or sustainable. I’m working on it but am finding it’s really hard for me stop the whirling in my head. The good news is I’m starting to recognize when I’m giving in to this behavior, so that’s step one. Here’s what I’ve been attempting to do when I know I’m obsessing, lying and reacting.

  • Recognize that I’m obsessing and creating a false story about a particular situation
  • Take a deep breath to calm myself down and pull myself out of the emotional reaction I’m having
  • Think about what actually happened versus what I perceived
  • Put myself in the other person’s shoes: could something have triggered them that then caused a chain reaction?
  • Ask myself: will this matter tomorrow, next month or next year? This one is especially helpful in keeping things in perspective.

I am certainly a work in progress, but have found these steps helpful. What kinds of stories do you tell yourself? Do any illicit an emotional response and how do you manage that? Share with me!

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