coaching

Alternative Methods to Manage Grief and Triggers

A trigger only continues to be a trigger when you give your power to it. 

The more we play up the drama with the people and environments around us, the more we internalize feelings of damage and scarcity. 

Simply put, we must take back our power with outside words and actions.

So, how can we work to accomplish this?

Lindsay provided a few valuable grounding techniques (ones that we will dive deeper into at the Immersion Experience) and I, obviously, have tried and true techniques that have worked wonders in my own life, for those folks like me that are more direct with their actions.

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I should preface this to include that both of our insights will reach different people and can easily be used separate or together to find solutions that work best in your life.

I'll give you an example in my professional life. For years, my perceived worth in my job was based solely on what I could do to ensure my boss's happiness. If he was having a bad day, I internalized it and interpreted it as "he was mad at me....I did something wrong....I need to fix this before I get fired" even if it had nothing to do with me.

I interpreted someone else's actions as me not trying hard enough, not being perfect enough, making too many mistakes. 

In a nutshell, I felt unworthy and unqualified. 


When fertility treatments started and I began to reach out to others, research coping strategies and practice outlets for my mental anguish, I started to realize the shame spiral I was putting myself through. 


My biggest take away was this:

I am digging deep and doing the best I can in my life. I cannot control the actions and events outside of me. I can only control my reaction to them.

Over time, and with much practice, I stopped focusing on how other people should act and what they should say, reminding myself I could not control them.

Instead, whenever something started ruffling my feathers or made me uncomfortable, I started repeating this mantra under my breath:

How can I remain calm and in control of my own actions in this moment.

Over and over and over until I could visualize myself in full. From the way I stood, to the emotions on my face, to the words I spoke. 

There is no reason to fight fire with fire, and quite frankly, no use wasting precious energy fighting at all. 

Writing down and repeating OUT LOUD canned responses to sticky situations helps neutralize the issue so you can remove yourself and recompose (and then consider some of those groundings techniques!)

Is it a perfect method? No. We are human and are guaranteed to make mistakes. 


When I'm feeling spicy I may simply ask the person to elaborate or further explain their remark, so at the very least I can determine if their comment was well meaning and if I should exude mental energy on them with education and empathy. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it's better to part ways.

When grief bubbles to the surface, and it will if you have walked through any sort of traumatic event in your life, be it infertility or otherwise, this is when the practice and extra effort you have been putting into neutralizing triggers and refocusing your mind really shine.

Although I am hard-headed, strong-willed and determined, I am not immune to grief. I carry it with me and even walked with a small episode this week, if I'm completely honest.

For me, the effects of a trigger from grief present themselves with emotional childhood, lethargy, and lack of interest in my surroundings. I may experience something that makes me nostalgic about my grief, then the next couple of days I will process it.

I always tell my husband it's coming. The last thing I need is him not fully aware I'm acting different for a specific, tough reason, and him calling me out, me interpreting it as "I'm unworthy of my feelings" and starting a shame spiral. It's paramount that the ones closest to you understand, or at the very least, provide the pillar of strength or the space you need at the time. 

I am direct with him. 

"I am having some grief. I am sad. I will likely cry for and it's not going to be pretty. Please don't try to fix me. I am okay, but these emotions need to go somewhere other than my heart."

I know that sounds blunt, but it has been the biggest lesson learned about the dynamics as husband and wife. He needs me to literally spell things out to him, so I do.

The episode will happen. I will take the time to cry as hard as I need to followed by many cleansing, deep breaths. I will wash my face, hug my bulldog and my husband and choose to move forward. 

Sad moments are welcome in my life just as much as happy ones are. Accepting the good and the bad moments is a practice I am so very thankful for.


As always, if you find yourself struggling to achieve these sort of methods and are looking for individualized help, we encourage you to take a seat at our Immersion Experience this September. Our girl's trip with a purpose is guaranteed to leave you refreshed and empowered. 

When Triggers and Grief Hit...

This week on Instagram Tia and I will be talking about our own experiences with triggers and grief, and how we've managed them both in the moment and afterward.

Let's dive right in.

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I don't believe you can learn to not be triggered or grieve entirely. Mostly, it's because someone will say something you've never heard or been asked before and you'll find little bits of your soul you didn't realize need massaging. In life, there are no guarantees things will go smoothly, we all know that, and yet we keep moving forward. Learning to deal with triggers is the same as learning to deal with infertility: it's a bumpy, ugly road we can make a little nicer by learning really good coping skills.

There are people who get very annoyed by the term trigger. They like to mock people who experience hard emotions or instantly feel sadness or anxiety when a memory, feeling or thought is triggered. The thing is, it's not like you want this to happen. If it were up to the person who was hurt, they would prefer to not be hurt. And so, when people mock those who have these experiences, you can attribute it to their lack of knowledge of the experience. Meaning, they're really fucking lucky they haven't had to hurt like you.

However, we can also overcome some of the knee-jerk reactions that ultimately make us feel bad afterward. I don't know many people who verbally assault someone, meltdown, or do some form of either of those, vomiting their emotions on the offender and feel good about it. Most of us would prefer to not react in the face of someone who is saying something hurtful, whether intentionally or not.

I can't promise you you'll do this perfectly or stop feeling what you do, because that's not true. But I can promise you there are ways to help you begin to react less often and maybe less harshly. I learned about them seven years ago and, for the most part, they've become part of my lifestyle. I still get defensive and can be an asshole occasionally, but it definitely doesn't happen as much as it used to.

Grounding techniques are exactly what you need to learn how to implement when you're on high alert or feel highly reactionary, because it will not only help you in the moment but it will help you cool down afterward.

The point of grounding is to help you stay present and bring you back to the moment without the emotional baggage. They really don't have to be difficult and, ultimately, the hardest part about them is coming prepared for them. I've created a pretty hefty list of exercises for those people attending the Immersion Experience, but I want to give you an example of one of those exercises here, too.

This one is called 5-4-3-2-1 (or something like that...I'm going off memory). It combines the use of your five senses and helps you get back to the present moment.

Step one includes taking a few deep breathes, inhaling through your nose and counting to three, and then exhaling through your mouth for the same count. Once you've done this a few times, you open your eyes and look around you.


Then you'll name:

5 - Things you can see right there (whether they're in your room or outside of the door doesn't matter. Just name five things).

4 - Things you can feel right there.

Ex:

  • The texture of your shirt

  • Your breath on your face

  • Anything you can touch in the room (go do it)

  • Your hair

3 - Things you can hear. 

2 - Things you can smell.

1 - Things you can taste (I always kept a piece of gum or snack around for this, honestly. And when I was super triggered I used something like sour candy - Lemonheads - to help shock me back to the present)


Then take three more deep breathes at the end.
That's it.


At first this might seem like a lot of work, but once you've practiced doing it several times it actually happens very quickly.

The entire point of doing this is to divert your attention from the thing that has caused your emotions to spike so that you can refocus your energy in healthier ways. This one isn't typically used right in the altercation/conversation with the person or event that caused it, but immediately after when you're able to do this without on your own.
These are exercises taught to people with PTSD who need to get their emotions in check, as I did after my abuse convinced me the world was a scary, scary place. Doing the grounding exercises not only helped me diminish the immediate fear I felt, but it also helped me overcome a lot of other complicated emotions, like shame for reacting in a way I ultimately felt was inappropriate.

If you feel your reaction to triggering situations or grief episodes is unhealthy, I'd highly recommend finding a grounding exercise that works for you. It won't solve the issue completely, but it will allow you to look at what happened from an empowered place of logic and you will move through it faster.

This is a process, friends. One that you can absolutely do on your own.

I believe it with all of my heart.