Salutations! Welcome to "GieGie Does It," a safe space where I'll be sharing advice/guidance/musings on the questions we all grapple with while navigating this earthly existence.
What questions you ask? Well, there are those big, cosmic questions like "how can I live a happy and authentic life that's pleasing to my soul?" There are smaller, everyday questions like "how do I get through this tough conversation with a loved one?" and "how can I feel better in my body?" There are all the questions in between.
Our society puts a lot of pressure on us to know everything. So often, this pressure makes us feel ashamed when we don't have things "all figured out." And so, we choose to grapple with these questions on our own, in the protection of our own brains. More often than not, this leads us down an endless spiral of confusion.
GieGie Does It (shout out to Spirit for the name 💓) is intended to hold space for people to ask life's questions in community. It's also intended to honor the beauty and bravery in vulnerability. We all get lonely. We all want to know how to live a more fulfilling, love-filled, lush life. We don't have to be alone in figuring life out.
So with all that in mind. Let's get into it! :)
Today's question comes from a very close friend of mine, a tribe member who shall remain nameless.
I'm heading to the east coast to see my family and I'm feeling a little anxious about seeing everyone for the first time in months. I want to enjoy the trip and not get in my head with worry. Do you have any grounding tips or affirmations I can turn to in times of stress?
Ah. I'm so glad you asked this question. Encounters with family members have resulted in some of my deepest cuts. I know I'm not alone in that. I think it's fair to say that everyone has dealt with familial wounding on some level, which makes this topic all the more relevant and juicy to me.
It's also timely: we're rapidly approaching the holiday season, when many of us will find ourselves surrounded by family. I'm no statistician, but I'd bet the chance of being triggered by family increases exponentially as the amount of "family time" goes up. Besides that, things are tense in society right now. We have never been in this time before: a pandemic continues to rage on, an election looms around the corner.
Your question is universal and discussing family triggers is necessary.
Triggerland is real. For my friend, it's her familial home. For you it might be your office, your partner's parents' house, the grocery store, school, or the prison of your own mind.
Here are my tips for navigating Triggerland:
1). Prepare Yourself.
Check! ✅By asking this question or reading this post, you are already on the right track. Spend time reflecting on the times of Trigger-past. Are there any patterns you can pick up on? Chances are you already know exactly what your triggers are. If not, get clear on them.
One activity you might try is to look in the mirror and see that you are more than the words people say to you and about. Can you expand your view of yourself?
2). Stay Present.
When you are around family, try to stay ultra present. When I am triggered, I notice that I operate from space akin to autopilot. Before I know it, I'm experiencing a whirlwind of feelings and thoughts alerting me that I'm upset. I am overwhelmed and feel like I can't control what comes next - I might shut down; I might lash out. I simply cannot account for this autopilot version of me!
The antidote for that is to stay ultra present. Do not get into your head. Do not go down the laundry list of things someone might say to you. Try to let go of your guard. Scan through your body. Are your muscles tense? Relax your shoulders. Unclench your jaw, love. Grab hold of a grounding crystal. Here are a few I'd suggest: tiger's eye for empowerment, rose quartz for unconditional love, tarantella agate for breaking free from ancestral patterns and blue calcite for communication.
3). Feel ALL of your feelings, without apology or judgement.
As you are staying present, take note of how you are feeling and trust what's coming up for you. Feelings are your compass for navigating life authentically. They are your way out of an emotional storm.
Take note of your feelings and stay away from judging them. It's ok to be upset when someone crosses a boundary. Can you identify what that boundary is?
4). Don't internalize a single word!
I have to stress this one! Try not to take any trigger personally. Why did that person just say that? Why did they do that thing they always do, that thing you hate? The possibilities are endless, and frankly, my dear, they really don't matter.
What matters is you. Taking things personally only hurts you, as Don Miguel Ruiz points out in his book The Four Agreements. A trigger isn't revealing a flaw in you, it's exposing an area where you could use more love. Let's say someone makes a comment on your body. Don't walk away from that conversation taking their opinion as truth. Instead, take it as a nudge to send some love to your body and heal issues you may have with your self image.
When triggers arise, you need to release the painful judgement at the core of the trigger. One activity to help with letting go is to clench your hands together into a fist, imagining you're holding the trigger. Clench your hands together tighter, and tighter, and tighter. Now release. Affirm you've let it go.
5). Choose love.
So you've been triggered. You know exactly how you're feeling. You're ultra-present. Now, it's time for you to decide what comes next. Ask yourself what would feel most loving to myself in this moment? Then, go in that direction. Use that question as your North Star and know that there's no right or or wrong answer. If someone said something hurtful, you may choose to defend yourself. You may choose to walk away.
One definition of insanity I've heard is "doing the same thing and expecting a different result." Can you consider taking a contrary action and doing the opposite of what you normally do? If you always withdraw into yourself or physically walk away, can you sit still and allow your feelings to show? If you lash out, can you find a way to set your boundary in a more loving way?
Try saying the affirmations below to yourself.
I am perfect just as I am.
I love myself for who I am and I accept myself in my totality.
My family is not mine to control, nor am I there's to control. We can feel differently and disagree, and still hold love for each other.
There are no victims or villains. We are all just souls making choices and sometimes the choices of others can hurt. We are all more than our choices.
I am safe.
My life is mine alone. Your life is yours alone. What I choose to do with my life is right for me.
In hard moments, I choose self-love.
All of these tips are designed with the goal of building self-love and trust, the true keys for staying grounded in the midst of being triggered.
That's it from me. 🙋🏾♀️
In freedom and love,