As we go through our day, we usually get hit with unwanted feelings, emotions, and thought patterns. If you are aware of how your mind works, you will know that as life unfolds, some events trigger your mind to go into ‘negative thinking’ mode. I.e there is the typical mind chatter- the thoughts and ideas that the mind generates on it’s own, and there is the atypical chatter-the unusual negative thoughts that the mind generates, as a reaction to an event, something said or done by someone etc.
Unwanted Emotions or ‘Being Triggered’
The unusual negative mind chatter is what we call “being triggered”. Sometimes you are aware of what triggers you- this could be waiting an usual amount of time for an Uber, going through airport security, loud clubs, dealing with finances, seeing someone you know get a hot girl, nice car, house etc. However, sometimes you are completely unaware of what triggers you, it happens unconsciously. If you are not conscious enough, you might not even notice that you are being triggered. The first step, is to be mindful, you can’t always know what triggers you (unless you want to go see a hypnotist, or a therapist to dig into your repressed memories), but you can always be aware when you are triggered. The emotions that come up are due to repressed trauma, or past events. Again you just need to be aware of this when it happens.
The Mind’s Reactions
Based on my experience, the mind chatter is usually created by certain emotions and feelings, and they can both create an upward (positive) or downward (negative) spiral. It is important to be aware of them. For example, I have a repressed fear of pursuing women, because as a kid in kindergarten, I was teased for liking girls (this is something I am aware of, but there could also be more repressed memories). Sometimes when I start dating someone new, the same fearful emotion comes up, and my mind starts chattering right away “you’re not good enough”, “this may never work” etc. The mind chatter may cause the fear to intensify, and this in turn makes the mind go crazier, as the mind is responding to the emotion. It is important to be aware of these things. Other repressed emotions could be apathy towards work, life, fear of speaking up, of public presentations, fear of what your father might think (this is big among men). These emotions are usually related to some repressed trauma. The mind likes to feed these emotions with thoughts; hence, it is important to let go of the thoughts as they come up, and focus on the emotions instead.
Focus on the Emotion Instead
The easiest way to do this, is to be aware of your thought patterns, and to notice when the negative thoughts come up, you need to drop the focus on your mind, and put your focus on the emotion instead. Be with it and don’t judge it. Eckhart Tolle, calls this the pain body. This comes up as an unwanted emotion, accompanied by negative thoughts. Instead of focusing on your mind, let go of thoughts, and feel the emotion as it is, the fear, the restfulness, the apathy, the disgust; just be with it.
Sometimes there is a legitimate reason for the feeling, it could be warning you of something, sometimes it is survival mechanism (evolutionary) or something you developed based in your childhood. There is no purpose in trying to understand the emotions, just simply let go of the thoughts, focus on the emotions, and wait for them to go away. When this happens life is giving you an opportunity to let go of some past trauma. Repeat this process, and over time the intensity of the emotions will reduce.
Let Go At The End Of The Day
It is extremely important to go to bed at night without carrying any unwanted emotions back into your unconscious. You don’t want to process the day’s unwanted emotions in your sleep, you want to let go of them before you go to bed. You may not always be present while you’re being triggered. Sometimes, you get so involved in the emotions, you forget that you are in control. At the end of the day, you should meditate for 10 to 15 minutes, just be aware of the emotions related to the day as they come up, and let go of them.
If I had any negative emotions in the day, like fear, regret, embarrassment, anger, guilt etc. I just focus on the feelings when I meditate, I don’t judge them, and I don’t feed them with thoughts. Every night as I meditate, these unwanted emotions (due to past trauma) are reduced. I have changed a lot over the past years, and have become a much calmer person.
As you do this, you will notice that what used to trigger you doesn’t do effect you as much. You will also notice much more aware when others are triggered and you will not judge.