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Releasing Emotional Triggers and Traumas

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Anshu Bahanda: This is Anshu Bahanda on Wellness curated. Thanks for joining me on this podcast. My mission is to empower you with health and wellness, so that you can then go and empower others. Releasing triggers and traumas with Bushra Khan, who is a holistic psychotherapist. She uses tools such as RTT, which is Rapid Transformational Therapy, NLP, Hypnotherapy and lots of modalities. Here’s one of the gems we’ve learnt about in this chat.

Please explain to all of us – what is an emotional trigger and what is trauma?  

Bushra Khan: So an emotional trigger comes from emotional trauma. An emotional trauma is something that happened mostly in our childhood. So let’s say, it could be an event or series of events. And what is an emotional trigger? That something happens in our life later on, that something reminds us of that trauma, something hits that nerve, that experience and we get triggered by it and we behave or we react in a certain way by anger or in a chaotic way, that is our emotional trigger. 

AB: Tell me, do we all experience triggers and trauma? 

BK: We all get triggered, right? It’s coming from something that we’ve experienced. It’s not just about the event, it’s about the beliefs created from the event. Some common beliefs are “I’m unlovable”, “I brought this upon myself”, “something is wrong with me”, “I’m always abandoned by people I care about” or “I’m not worthy of love”, “I’m not enough”. So these beliefs are formed from these traumas. So when somebody makes us feel like we’re not good enough or if they are not available or they reject us, we get triggered because we are holding on to these belief’s identity that was created by a dysfunctional family or what happened in childhood. It could happen through teachers or it could happen through our parents, our upbringing. So we hold on to these beliefs and then those become our core beliefs. 

AB: Interesting. So Bushra, tell me, from your experience, what are some of the more common or typical traumas and the triggers that they create? 

BK: The most common are like let’s say the trauma is that we had an emotional experience in our childhood, the parent was not available. We felt that our needs were not fulfilled. We were asked for attention, our feelings were not important, they were not validated. So we create beliefs from there and the trauma is created from there. And so people-pleasing, like for example, we become people pleasers because we think that somebody taught us in childhood that your feelings are not important enough, my feelings are. It’s dismissed. So we become people-pleasers. Because we think that’s the only way we can get attention and can get validated. And when somebody abandons us, we get triggered by it. Sometimes we just literally avoid people, avoid connection. We don’t want to get hurt, we feel unsafe.

AB: Is there a particular age range or could it be at any time in our lives? 

BK: Mostly the core false beliefs are created from the age of zero to seven. Afterwards something big happens, let’s say a car accident takes place, then that’s where the trauma is created. So traumas can be created later on in life but we believe that the main ones that we hold on to are really coming from a very young age. 

AB: So let’s get into the trigger – how exactly is a trigger formed? 

BK: What we do is in childhood we learn how to go into survival. So as we grow older, so the trigger can show up later or trigger can show with the experience. So if it’s the same feeling, the experience is gone now. Now you’re sitting with the feeling of it, you experience that same feeling, you will be triggered. It can manifest in many different ways – anger, fear, going in the dark room like just having an outburst and throwing your weight around and not really understanding what it’s about, just feeling the pain. So we don’t even sometimes understand why we are behaving in a certain way. So for that, I’ll give you tools and tips later, on how to understand what the triggers are, where they are coming from. In the beginning it’s literally how you’re reacting, those are your triggers. They are pointing towards something that has not been healed. 

AB: You’re spot on that they’re pointing to something that hasn’t been healed. So would you say that to get rid of the triggers, you have to get rid of the trauma, is that right? 

BK: You have to have the awareness of what these triggers are about. You can’t get rid of trauma, you can’t get rid of what happened, you can accept what happened and why it happened is another way of looking at it, in a positive way and saying “okay, fine, now I know what I’m operating from so let’s start to heal from this, not get rid but heal from it”. 

AB: Wow, that is fascinating. 

BK: It’s not that life will not happen. Things will happen, we will get triggered but we manage it so well that we understand like “this is what I’m doing, this is why I’m overreacting it’s coming from”. So you have a much better understanding and understanding is power. So when you understand, you accept, you are more aware of it, you become more compassionate, you have more empathy, and you try to manage your emotions. You learn to manage your emotions.

AB: Bushra, you know, it would be really helpful to give people some tips and techniques, so can we go through some tips and techniques on how to get rid of our common triggers? 

BK: Practice self witnessing, observing yourself with curiosity. “How do I respond? Why did I react that way? What about the situation triggered me?” -so becoming more self aware, try and be more objective and ask yourself “why did I do this?” and have healthy boundaries and limits. So when we become people pleasers, we are always looking for other people’s needs but start looking for your own needs. What happens is that we need to start being more aware of our physical sensations, what is happening in the body and sit with it. If you start applying, you’ll start seeing where the trauma is and what it is making you feel. 

AB: You’re saying that if you sort of try and figure out where physically the trauma is coming from and sit with it and maybe study that a little bit, it’ll help you get rid of the trigger as well that’s been created by that trauma, is that right? 

BK: Exactly. Because it’s also sitting in the body. So start getting in touch more with your body. Start seeing what the sensations are. Are you feeling fear? Are you feeling anger? Sit with it and see where in the body and calm yourself, rest yourself because trauma sits in the body as well. It’s not only in your brain, it sits in the body as well. 

AB: You’re saying that every time a trauma is created, it finds a house in the body, not just in our minds and our brains but it finds a physical house somewhere in our body, is that right? 

BK: Used to live inside the survivor’s body. It’s an emotion. So emotion is energy in motion. The energy from the past trauma is going to sit in your body. 

AB: Can you explain to us how to recover from that trauma? 

BK: Firstly, it takes time and it takes work. You have to give it attention. You have to sit with the pain in your body. So what you resist will persist. And that’s what we do. We’ve been taught, “oh, it’s okay, get on with life, it’s fine, it’s not a big deal”. Emotional trauma needs as much attention and care as physical trauma does. So how do you get rid of it? Firstly it requires work. You sit with it, you do inner child work. Let the feelings and emotions come up. You accept it, that this happened to you in the past and be more aware of where it’s coming from. Awareness is very much needed. Mindfulness being present. In the present moment, the trauma doesn’t exist because you are safe, unless you’re living from the memory of the trauma, of the bad experience. What happens? So when you start thinking about it, your body doesn’t know it’s happened in the past or it’s happening right now, and you start to get sucked into that memory in that experience and you will create trauma in your body as well. You feel a funny feeling in your stomach. You will have hot sweats. You will start to feel anxious and panic because that is all being created by a memory. Understanding where it’s coming from. Practice mindfulness. Do grounding exercises, self love exercises. Positive affirmations like “I’m safe, I’m enough”. Journaling really helps too, journal your emotions and your thoughts. 

AB: That’s really interesting. 

BK: When you start journaling your thoughts and your emotions, you will see exactly the same way, that your life is a mirror. Whatever is showing up is because it’s happening inside. And so that’s where you start to change. Meditation is a really amazing exercise. So you start with just being on your body first. So start feeling your toes, your hands. So becoming more self aware of your body through meditation helps as well. We understand where the pain is, what we are feeling, what we are going through. Lastly, I would say practice forgiveness. So once you start going into your trauma, you will see who hurt you, where it’s coming from. Blame and victim you’ve been playing, all of that dissolves because then you go into forgiveness. You forgive the person. And using this trauma as positive and asking “what was it teaching me?” , you can use this trauma as a positive thing. You can say “fine, if this is my life,this is my journey and this trauma was teaching me something, what would be the lesson?” So, using it positively and then basically forgiving the person who created this, because if they were just playing their part, then there is nobody to blame. So you can use the trauma positively as well. As you get more evolved and wiser, you just say, “okay, fine, this actually was pointing me towards this.” So let’s say a bad relationship. So if you’ve been brought up in chaotic childhood and fighting and drama. So when you meet your partner, you will look for the same thing. With stability, peace, you’ll feel I’m bored in this relationship, you will not accept it. You will say “this is not for me because you’re so used to chaos.” So people go into relationships where they come from chaotic backgrounds and they look for chaotic partners and then they blame the partner and they become a victim. But if you can understand, well, you chose this partner not from the place of blame and shame. You actually chose this partner. Your energy attracted this partner in your life. You can ask “what was it pointing me towards? Maybe I had not healed, maybe I had no self worth. That I accepted the abuse and constant criticism and negative feedback. This literally was pointing me towards that I need to heal, I need to feel safe, I need to love myself.” And that’s where the growth comes into picture. So this is not this person’s fault. This person was on the same journey and we attracted each other. You will see that you start to attract positive people in your lives. All friendships, they dissipate. They actually leave your life. And people, when they start working with me, they say, “oh, my friend has left me, but she was so negative. But she was my best friend.” I said, when you start this journey of self love and self care, people who don’t serve you will leave your life. 

AB: Because it’s about vibration, right? What vibration are you vibrating at? And that’s the people who will come into your energy field, the people who are vibrating at the same sort of level. 

BK: Yes. They’re exactly telling you what you’re thinking about yourself. They’re giving you negative feedback about you. And this is exactly what you think. 

AB: Interesting. 

BK: If this person is saying this, “where do I believe this about myself? Why am I abandoning myself? Why am I rejecting myself?”

AB: So Bushra, basically traumas seem to come into our life and triggers come because of the traumas, but the traumas come because we have cellular memory, because our cells remember the good and the bad. Explain the concept of cellular memory to us. So when we’re going through an experience, how can we make sure that we only store what serves us and not something that will become a trauma? 

BK: Okay, so the trauma is found very early, at a very young age. Bad things are happening, like an accident happened, you lost your parent, there was child abuse, the parents were constantly fighting, so we later on in life get triggered by those traumas. So how to help release that emotion, to release ourselves from that pain that we are carrying from that experience? So that’s the work that we need to do. So if it’s a constant negative experience we are having that turns into a trauma as well, it’s a chronic trauma. This Dr. Masuro Emoto attempted to photograph the inference that words, sentence, sounds, that it changed the appearance of the water crystals, 70% of our body’s water. And they say that depression is not caused by chemical imbalance. It’s caused by the negative words we say to ourselves. And then there is a nerve, vagus nerve that runs from our brain to all our organs. What you are thinking, the negative words you are saying to yourself and you’re thinking and you’re feeling this information is going to all your organs. And that’s why we have diseases. Your body is taking the hit from it, everything repeatedly, the negative things you’re saying to yourself, they will sit in your body, they have a cellular memory. And so let’s say somebody shouts and let’s say your parents are young, you’re also always screaming and shouting at each other. So now you don’t even know why they’re shouting, because they’re happy or what, but because the body has a memory, it reacts, it gets triggered. So sometimes even the mind doesn’t even process what’s happening and your body is reacting. You start to feel anxious and you have a panic attack or something. First step to healing is to start feeling the sensations in your body, the fear, the feeling unsafe, the anger, jealousy, hatred, resentment. Start feeling these, it’s not easy. You will have to sit with yourself and let this emotion come up and say, “why did I feel jealous? Why do I resent this person so much?” And then see where it’s coming from. What is the experience you had that has created this emotion in your body? And then start dealing with that emotion that is connected to the experience and start releasing it from there. 

AB: So even if you’ve gone through something immediately, so it doesn’t become a trigger or a trauma, you would say, do this about sitting with the sensation in your body. So it doesn’t get stored. 

BK: Yeah. So let’s say something new happens. Somebody is being rude to us and we get triggered-”Why were they so rude?” so we sit with it. Ask where you have felt it before. So once you start doing the work and somebody is being rude to you, you will not be triggered. You will manage it. You’ll say, “you know what, this rudeness has nothing to do with me. It’s their own trauma, showing they’re being triggered by me or the environment or the circumstances. And you just don’t own it. It’s got nothing to do with you. It’s their own issues.” 

AB: Do you have any advice? I know you gave us some lovely tips. Like you said, journaling. Sit with your body. You said meditation, mindfulness. 

BK: I would say witness yourself, watch yourself, how you react, the way you are reacting. Ask yourself what is triggering you and how you’re reacting. Start witnessing yourself and be more objective, not subjective. So just as if you’re having an out-of-body experience, watch yourself. “Oh, I’m feeling really jealous right now. Okay, what is this about?” or “oh, I really reacted badly. It was really not needed. Why did I react badly?” ask yourself such questions and start witnessing yourself and then see that sensation in your body where it is, obviously do the affirmations like “I’m safe, I’m loved, I’m enough, I’m connected to the creator.” Whatever you’re feeling, say the opposite affirmation and learn to stay calm. If you have unresolved trauma coming from your childhood, you need to do some inner childhood work. You need to do some shadow work. And if you find it difficult doing it on your own, sit with a therapist. Sit with somebody who can create a safe space for you. If you feel that it’s very deep rooted and you can’t just use these tips, sit with somebody who can help you. So the anger is sitting in the body, let it come up. Just let the pain come up that I’m feeling angry, I’m feeling this, see what’s the feeling of it. And then be very aware that this actually happened. Question the thought. It actually happened in the past. It’s not happening right now. I’m not a child who’s dependent on the adult, I’m a grown up. Question the thought that is negative emotion. The more you question, the negative thought will not stay. 

AB: Okay. How long do you think we follow the methodology you’ve explained to us about, sitting and feeling that feeling and trying to deal with it and trying to go deeper into it? 

BK: Consistency is very important. And one exercise I do is to sit in this exercise with self compassion. So what I do is I put my hand on my heart and I feel all the emotions that I’m feeling-anger, resentment, abandoned, rejected, whatever that is. So take a deep breath and feel all the emotions you are feeling. And when you exhale, just see that that’s all those emotions that we collected through your hand, it’s coming out in your breath. Start doing these exercises with self compassion. And if you feel that you cannot move them, then sit with somebody who can help you to make sense out of them. It takes 21 days to construct and deconstruct a thought. It takes 360 days to change the behaviour. So imagine if you’re holding this trauma for 20 years or 25 years, it will take time. You will need to literally change your behaviour, change the way you look at things and it requires work. So imagine if you’re holding your trauma for 25 years, 30 years, 40 years, 50 years. It is going to take time. So be consistent with the habits, with changing the behaviour, changing your personality. To change a person’s reality, we have to change their personality. So you have to be consistent with the things you are doing, the tools you are using. 

AB: Bushra, that was such a wonderful chat. Thank you so much for all your help. Thanks for joining us. Hope you enjoyed the Wellness Curated podcast. Please subscribe and tell your friends and family about it. And here’s to you, leading your best life.