Triggering Reactivity

We get triggered by people, situations, and events and find ourselves reacting in ways that, in the aftermath, we are ashamed of, know consciously to be ineffective or destructive, or that we thought we had outgrown. It can be disheartening, depressing, and cause us to feel hopeless, unmotivated, and angry at ourselves as well as others. At a very basic level, this is the basis of addiction. We want to ease the pain or stress that we are feeling! We revert, often without conscious thought, to old coping mechanisms. We just want to stop feeling the uncomfortable vibes or jitters that we experience when we come up against behavior, thoughts, or actions that trigger unconscious or subconscious reactions.

For example, why do some people overeat? Even when they know consciously that they are not hungry? Beyond the taste buds that give the message that whatever is being eaten is delicious, the unnecessary food is providing a balm to an uncomfortable feeling. Perhaps eating has become a way to stop feeling alone, worthless, and unloved for many of us. And it works, at least temporarily! For those few minutes while we are eating the comfort food, we feel soothed and less uncomfortable. The loneliness, the self-disparagement, and the feelings of being unlovable diminish in volume. 

This sets up a patterned way of dealing with uncomfortable emotions. Does the food have anything really to do with the feelings? No, it’s just a method of coping that seems to alleviate the pain of the emotions just long enough time for us to begin to feel some relief from the uncomfortable emotions. And that is one of the hallmarks of these coping mechanisms, they are temporary, and thus must be constantly repeated to regain a sense of emotional equilibrium.

Eating is not the only way to deal with uncomfortable feelings. Humans are inventive in their coping mechanisms! Alcohol, drugs, sex, abusive relationships, thrill seeking, self-abusive behaviors, angry outbursts, and inflicting physical, emotional, and verbal pain on others are other ways that people have found that relieve the stress of their emotional pain. But not all addictive behaviors are seen from the outside as negative!

Another example can be seen in people who seem to thrive and truly come alive only in times of crisis. They are there to help family, friends, and the greater community survive a threat or difficult time. These people become the saviors that others constantly call on for help. This rescue pattern can become so embedded in the rescuer’s psyche that they look for crisis situations to manage and, sometimes when it can’t be found, will create situations where their invaluable help is called on. This is not necessarily consciously recognized but when their assistance is not desperately needed, these individuals do not feel happy, fulfilled, or even alive. Again this is an addiction, albeit often seen in a positive way by the receivers of such assistance.

Being able to come to the rescue allows these people a way to feel valuable and worthy. Taken to a bizarre extreme, we witness the phenomena of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Although this syndrome is fairly rare, less extreme examples are all around us. If an individual was praised as a child only for their ability to maintain calm and offer assistance in an emergency, this becomes a way for the child to continue to find value with others and self. This is the way the child feels fully loved.

What do habitual unconscious reactions, built-in automatic responses, and addictive patterns have in common? Often they are the learned consequences to events that happened in the past. When we find ourselves challenged in the present, our past memories can cause us to react without even knowing we are being triggered. We bypass the conscious thought process of what might be the best way to respond to the challenge in the present by triggering an automatic resolution that has worked for us in the past. Reactively responding to a present situation always means we are functioning from our memories and past experiences. By clouding the present with filters from the past, we lose objectivity and may not clearly see the present situation. New ways of approaching any situation, whether challenging or trouble-free, can be missed because we are entrenched in the old pattern of thinking and cannot see the new solutions or opportunities.

There are currently a number of methodologies to help us rid ourselves of no longer useful emotional and mental patterns. But before we can avail ourselves of any method, we must be able to bring these unconscious and subconscious patterns to the surface. It has been posited that conscious thought is only about 10% of all the thinking and remembering we do. The vast majority of memories and thoughts are below the conscious level. This can be a major stumbling block. How can we become aware of what is not recognizable?

Generally, how we feel about ourselves and others will reflect any biases we may have embedded in our memories that cause a habitual emotional response. If we are unhappy with ourselves, attention needs to be paid to ferret out what circumstances seem to trigger negative self-talk. If we seem to have a “go-to” emotion such as anger towards others, what is the true source of the anger? What are our thought habits? Do we tend to catastrophize events and outcomes or do we anticipate positive results? Do we seem to repeat actions that do not give us our desired conclusions? What do we really believe about ourselves in terms of our potential, capability, worthiness, and loveability? All of the answers will be reflected in our lives on a physical, emotional, mental and energetic level.

If our existences are in harmony with what we want out of our lives, then chances are that we are not going to act from past experiences and will not respond reactively. On the other hand, if we are not happy with how we interact with family and friends; where we are in our careers; our health; our romantic partnerships then chances are that we are holding onto and acting from outmoded or false preconceptions.

Some scientists posit that we hold memories and, therefore, behavioral patterns in all of our cells not just in the brain. This is one reason why there is such interest in energy medicine healing methods such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Acupuncture, Energy Medicine, and The Healing Codes. By working with the body in ways that combine physical touch and activation, these methodologies can help to remove old ways of thinking and behaving by embedding new and more effective ways of functioning in the physical body as well as in the thinking mind.

Many individuals have found that unearthing old patterns through talk therapies alone have not done the job of removing the old habitual patterns. It certainly can help to bring awareness of old emotional templates but by going over old patterns repeatedly, sometimes individuals feel worse and can become even more stuck in the old ways of behaving and responding. Continually reliving past trauma can cause us to make the mental pathways in our brain that contain the trauma to become more entrenched.

We want to discontinue to think in those ways – to abandon the dendrite pathways that cause us to function in the old way. By taking the acquired awareness of what is below the surface (unconscious and subconscious thinking) and applying energy medicine techniques to clear the body of the old patterns, people can make remarkable changes in how they experience formerly troubling challenges. How and when they respond to a situation can become more considered and thoughtful and not a knee jerk reaction. By functioning without the filters of the past, an individual can operate from a more authentic place; from the standpoint of who they are in the present instead of who they were in the past. We stop limiting who we think we can be and begin to expand who we are capable of being. We begin to live in the present without the holdovers from the past.

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Clinical Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches classes and workshops in Stretch/Body Awareness, Energy Body Tune-up, and Jazz Dance. For more information, email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

Networking at the Physical Level

We all understand what a social network is–an  interlacing of the people and groups we personally know. Through active or passive outreach to other people and groups, we can extend our network. Eventually through this web of interlacing, we can be in touch with someone from another culture or country that we’ve never even dreamed of visiting. And yet, somehow, we have created a connection with this new person, and they have become part of our larger worldwide network.

In the same way, our bodies network. One part of our physical body doesn’t need to reside directly next to another part to have a relationship. Although the lungs don’t sit next to the brain, through breath they obviously relate. The brain needs oxygen which the lungs supply and conversely the lungs won’t work if the brain doesn’t function. Therefore the functions of the lungs and the brain are interlaced, and they are networking.

We have a better understanding of the web that the flow of blood creates as it moves through the body. If we cut ourselves anywhere, blood will begin to seep through the cut. So it seems clear that the circulation of blood is system wide, and we understand that blood communicates with all parts of the body.

But do we fully comprehend that the rest of the body is constantly interacting, constantly networking, constantly communicating at every level: organs, bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, fluids, nerves, other connective tissues, and the outer covering that binds it all together – the skin?

Most of the time, we are not conscious of the communications that are taking place within our physical vehicle. Perhaps in a yoga or stretch class we suddenly are aware of blood flow or that a muscle has released some stiffness or blockage. Or we stub a toe and the nerves send us a clear and conscious message that pain is present. That message reverberates up the leg. However, the millions of messages that occur within our bodies are not consciously felt nor recognized. In fact, the body is in a constant state of riotous networking, picking up minute and sometimes lifesaving information, as our conscious life goes blithely on.

Our conscious thoughts and emotions also have an effect on the physical functioning of our bodies. We have all experienced pain in our hearts when someone we love has passed. Or the pounding of the blood in our heads when we are outraged or angered. Or the need to curve over and hold our stomachs when something shocking and sad has occurred. Our emotions and thoughts are networking directly with the rest of our bodies. Whether we are conscious of it or not, each part of our body, down to the cells, hears the message of pain, shock, sorrow, or anger.

Of course, messages of joy, love, happiness, and excitement also communicate throughout the body as well. At those times we feel expansive, glowing, energized, a sense of vitality.

Dr. Bruce Lipton, a renowned cell biologist, has discovered through his extensive research that our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions can have a profound effect on the functioning of each of our individual cells. Over the years, Dr. Lipton’s research has enhanced the field of Epigenetics. How we think about ourselves influences the environment in which cells evolve, grow, die, or thrive. According to Dr. Lipton’s theories, we are constantly networking with our bodies through conscious or subconscious thoughts and feelings.

If we are feeling badly about ourselves, for example, we are creating a different milieu for our bodies than if we are feeling positively about ourselves. Self talk, whether critical or encouraging, has a direct impact on how we function throughout our bodies. If we tell ourselves that we are stupid, that same message passes through the physical network and changes the environment that the cells are operating in. If the communication that we are stupid becomes chronic, then the habitual growth pattern of the cells will be effected by this message. Our self talk directly networks through the cells with every part of the body: organs, bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, fluids, nerves, other connective tissues, and the skin.

We can affect specific parts of our bodies, in the same way, when we talk critically about that area. For example, many women are displeased with the size of their hips and verbally chastise themselves. Each time they look in the mirror, they send negative thoughts, emotions, and words to that part of the body. When I have asked these same women to do a body outline scan in classes, they are unable to feel the area around their hips in the same way that they can feel other areas. They have become numb through constant self-criticism. It is almost as if the cells that make up the hip area have become deadened through this barrage of self-hate. Because the body is a mesh of interlacing networks, the numbness in the hips is going to affect other parts of the web.

All of us occasionally speak disparagingly of ourselves. Often we may recognize a phrase that we hear others regularly repeat about themselves. For some of us, this negative self-talk can become an entrenched habit of speech. Consciously or subconsciously, this repetition creates the environment in which our bodies perform their functions. The interlacing becomes polluted with self-denigration. The atmosphere becomes tainted and the cellular network takes on a dourness that imbues all of its cellular participants.

This is why I urge students and clients to tackle the habit of negative self-talk. Our bodies, our very cells, are listening to what we are saying, thinking, and feeling about ourselves. Of course, we can and should observe things we might wish to change or improve (e.g., behavior or habits), but we do not have to constantly berate ourselves and put ourselves down. It is abundantly clear that a child hearing relentless disapproval and condemnation eventually internalizes the message and begins to act accordingly. The same action-reaction happens to us as adults if we unremittingly reprimand ourselves.

It may help to visualize a large red stop sign whenever you catch yourself beginning to insult or harangue yourself. Or perhaps the thought of a warm hug can restore your composure. Or remembering the latest accomplishment or time you felt positively about yourself. No part of your body benefits from constant negative self-talk. The point is to restore peace in the network thereby allowing a return to harmonious communication and healthful interaction.

 

 

 

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches classes and workshops in Stretch/Energy Body Tune-up and Jazz Dance. For more information, email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

 

© 2017 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.