How to Attune to the Body When Triggered

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Dear Soft Hearted Loves,

What do you do when your reaction feels huge in comparison to what just happened? It is totally understandable if your reaction to seeing, hearing, remembering, or smelling something feels like it doesn’t fit the situation. So many practices in psychology tell folks to think rationally, logically and actually invalidate themselves. This Eurocentric approach to feelings can be invalidating and in my experience as a psychologist it is better in most situations to validate and tune into the body. How does being triggered feel in your body?

Rather than argue with unwanted big feelings, what would it be like to simply note the big feeling and say “I see you” or simply observe the feeling. This can be done more so in the body than in the mind. Unfortunately in the mind affirmations that fight the experience or cognitive challenging can actually trigger more back and forth ping pong thinking. (Some affirmations can be great but they can’t used for challenging, such as “I am who I am” over “my body is perfect.”) For example, sometimes we’ll have our inner defender explain why we are okay to our inner critic. The inner defender may “win” for now, but the only true “win-win” resolution here is to ground ourselves in our bodies in the moment.

We can take note of the land we are on. Where are you right now? We can note what and where a feeling arises in our body. You may feel tightness in your chest, high and tense shoulders, or a twisty tummy. Breath into those areas. As scary and hard as it might be you can let yourself feel. Please follow your inner guidance. It’s actually best to practice this feeling your feelings in your body approach when things aren’t intense inside. It is also most helpful to practice it daily. When big feelings arise, your body will know what to do and the parasympathetic nervous system will parachute you down from being in fight, flight or freeze to being grounded in the now. Thank you land and universe for the privilege to breath in this moment. Please reach out to someone for therapy if you want help validating what comes up for you and addressing it in a different way moving forward.

Wishing you a moment of ease in your weekend.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

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