“What can I do in those moments of panic!?” she asked me in a frenzy.
She was talking about triggers coming up with her new love in moments of intimate, powerful vulnerability.
We’d worked together for some time, so she was already well versed on the concept of momentum; how we can live in a momentum of health or a momentum of emergency, and whichever direction we’re facing is the reality we’re most likely to experience.
I paused for a moment to consider what would best serve this brilliant woman. “I can give you trigger strategies, and I will,” I told her, “but the bigger question is, are you living in conditions primed for healthy relating or triggered relating?”
She let out a long grumble-sigh, followed with a, “So you’re saying my self care can lead to avoiding the trigger in the first place? Really?” “You know this,” I said back. We both laughed. “I do,” she surrendered.
Next I asked her, “Okay, imagine this. Imagine that on your vacation, instead of trying to please each other or do everything like a perfect performance of “good partner”, you were rather both asking yourselves this ONE question, morning, noon and night: If my body were in charge right now, what would it have me do?”
She thought for a moment and then said, “If I’d asked myself that question every day, a few times a day, I would’ve rested instead of pushing myself to go on that hike while I was sick. I would have probably taken a bath and ate really nourishing foods and not had all that alcohol.”
“Awesome! And do you think you would’ve had that emotional explosion followed by a shame spiral if you’d been caring for your body?” “Definitely not,” she said. “Great,” I replied. I invited her to put that question on card stock in every wallet, jacket and purse she has, and to check-in with herself at every meal over the next two weeks to get back into the habit of putting her body first.
“And, by the way, that question is your trigger strategy as well. Teach it to your boyfriend and in moments of meltdown or approaching meltdown, ask yourself, if my body were in charge right now, what would it have me do? Tell him that if you’re not acting like the mature goddess that you are, that this is the most important question he could ask you. No analysis or emotional processing needed. BODY FIRST.”
Just like with this brilliant client, there are lots of little strategies I could offer you for surviving moments of meltdown: hiding under the covers for a few minutes, taking 10 deep breaths, asking for some spae, asking to be held without any talk, getting a glass of water, shaking for a few minutes, etc. etc. etc.
But the more powerful strategy – rather than putting a band-aid on the symptom of a deeper difficulty – is to address the deeper difficulty.
When you live in a momentum in which your physical health is put on the back-burner, your emotional health suffers. But when you can start to cultivate a momentum of physical health, the emotional issues that tend to plague you can often disappear.
When you go to bed early and detox from the speed of technology, when you do light exercise in the morning to get your wheels turning in a healthy direction, when you consistently eat foods that nourish your vitality, when you feed your brain music, spiritual teachings and thoughts that bring you joy and wisdom – and when you make these things your absolute top priority – you start turning the tide of your momentum from emergency to health, and you give yourself the power and stability to face greater difficulties of emotional trauma with capacity and presence.
What can you do when you’re triggered? Put your body first. Tend to her needs with loving immediacy.
But the even sexier question? What can I do so I’m not triggered as often? Same answer. Prioritize your body’s health. It stores a wealth of wisdom and endless resources of resilience. It clears your mind and helps you find a direct line in to the light of your brilliant spirit. You just gotta remember to remember.
Hot tip for remembering: make an alarm on your phone that goes off three times a day, or put this key question on cardstock and in every pocket, jacket and purse you own: “If my body were in charge of me right now, what would it have me do?”
Believing in your power. You know what to do.
PS–Thanks again for ALL THE KICKSTARTER MAGIC! I’m diving into a week-long book writing immersion next week, and I’m SO EXCITED to share stories and strategies for the best sex ever…even after trauma. Love y’all.