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Triggers- otherwise known as the Painbody

You know that person in your life that can really push your buttons?

You read your motivational memes and posts every morning and tell yourself you will take the high road and rise above it, but then it happens- you get “triggered”. All the calmness and Zen feelings you tried so hard to cultivate for the day go flying out the window and you're irrationally pissed-off. It feels as though tidal wave has just blindsided you and knocked you off your game.

You may call a friend to vent and if they’re not available- you might try to release the energy by listening to your favorite rage songs at a level that will no doubt eventually cause some long-term hearing loss (mine happen to be: Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, Beyoncé’s Sorry, and Big Sean’s I Don’t F**k With You).

I often ask myself what is causing me to get triggered and how the hell do I reel-it-in before saying or doing something I’ll later regret?

Turns out we all have this thing called a painbody.

Whaaaaat? Ok, let me explain.

I first learned about the painbody a few years ago when Oprah had world-renowned spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle on her show and he dropped some major knowledge on my ass and explained that,

"There is such a thing as old emotional pain living inside you. It is an accumulation of painful life experience that was not fully faced and accepted in the moment it arose. It leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain. Every interpretation, every judgment about your life, about other people, about a situation you are in, will be totally distorted by the old emotional pain.”

So, when someone triggers us or pushes our buttons- it’s really because we have an old wound that never healed and left behind an exposed nerve. Then someone unwittingly walks right up and digs their finger into that wound, touches that nerve, and is met by a reaction that leaves them confused and thinking, “What the fuck just happened?!”

We’ve all been on both sides of these situations, so unless you want to become a shut-in or go live on a deserted island somewhere (which- I admit I often fantasize about) let’s go over the steps we can take to avoid being triggered and subsequently blowing-up at people in the future.

Eckhart says we need to remain present to dismantle the P.B. landmines living in our hearts.

Basically, we need to check ourselves.

Here’s a list of questions I ask myself before I blow my top (*disclaimer- this is on a good day- definitely not guaranteed)

  • What am I feeling?

  • Why am I feeling this?

  • Is this an emotion I’ve felt in the past?

  • Did this emotion serve me in the past?

  • Is there any benefit to me feeling this emotion again?

If the answers to the last 2 questions are “no” then I take a few deep breathes and try to let go of the rage (aka disrespect, fear, hurt, sadness).

Eckhart teaches us in his bestselling book A New Earth, that if you're not focused and living in the present moment-

“…you are identified with the painbody and you believe every negative thought that it is telling you. If you are alone, the painbody will feed on every negative thought that arises and get more energy. That's why it's become active — after it does that for a while, you can't stop thinking, at night, or whenever it is. The painbody is feeding, and after a few hours, it's had enough. You feel a little depleted. And then it happens again a few weeks later, or a few days later.”

When are some of your painbody’s most favorite times to show up and feed?

You guessed it- at family functions!

Ever wonder why you start to feel inexplicably anxious before a family function or visit? Because these peeps really know where all the painbodies are buried (did you catch that pun I snuck in? Pretty proud of that one).

Oh yes, they know just where to find all of those lovely exposed nerves.

Politics? Yes!

Lifestyle? You betcha.

Parenting (my personal fave)? Oh, HELL yes.

But friends, don’t do it. Don’t react because the painbody loves to feed off somebody else’s reaction.

Since everyone has a painbody and all painbodies love reactions, we can get into a very messy round-and-round where you provoke a person or get provoked and everyone ends up saying the things that will trigger negative responses.

Then you might start trading the dreaded “low-blow” to really inflict hurt on each other and if you aren’t fully present and checked-you will immediately react in a way you will no-doubt regret and probably not even mean.

Low-blows are the knock-out punches. Game over. The painbodies have won at this point because they are now feeding off each other’s drama.

Don’t let your painbody win.

Resist the temptation to get in the ring.

"If we can see the first signs of the painbody — either in ourselves, or in the other, immediately realize it, be the space for it, and if possible — even voice it to your partner and say “My painbody got triggered when you said that.” If you are present, the painbody cannot feed anymore on your thoughts, or on other people’s reactions. You can simply observe it, and be the witness, be the space for it. Then gradually, its energy will decrease.”

And if there's someone in your life that has a heavy painbody and can’t resist poking yours in attempt to wake it up to go 12 rounds- distance yourself from that person.

Slowly back away… then read some inspirational memes about how you don’t have time for bad vibes because you’re Zen AF.

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