If you’re like most of us, the answer is yes! And what happens next probably goes like this:
- You get triggered
- Uncomfortable feelings – like anger, jealousy, and fear – come up
- You do something – anything – to diffuse the feelings
Maybe you yell at a co-worker, or write a nasty letter to your ex. Perhaps you bury yourself in work or binge on Netflix and comfort food.
We Get Triggered… Then We Run!
We’re pretty good at outrunning our feelings…. at least temporarily.
We’re also pretty skilled at outrunning parts of ourselves that we don’t like. We organize our lives to avoid certain kinds of people, places, and things – because we don’t want to get triggered. We don’t want to face what we feel when we get triggered.
For example… maybe you keep your space super clean, so you don’t have to look at your own inner mess… or you stay constantly busy to drown out negative thoughts.
It makes perfect sense, right? Nobody wants to feel bad.
The Downside to Running
But here’s the downside – it’s exhausting! Avoidance takes a lot of energy. It makes us hyper vigilant and subtly anxious – so we never quite relax.
Plus we never really get away. The parts we’re avoiding nag us until we face them.
As the great meditation teacher Pema Chödrön says, “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” And she’s right!
Instead of wasting energy on running, we can look into these deep pockets of pain.
Learning to Stay… With Loving Kindness
Learning to stay starts with an attitude of loving-kindness. Because, as Pema says, “Without loving-kindness, staying in pain is just warfare.”
It also helps to adjust our attitude: We aren’t confronting an enemy. We’re embracing wounded aspects of our own being.
Meditation is a wonderful way to work with these painful points. In meditation we train in sitting with all our thoughts and feelings – the good, the bad and the boring. We don’t fuel them or avoid them. We simply watch as they arise and dissolve…. over and over again. As we watch this display, the power of painful thoughts begins to lessen. We don’t get hooked as easily. We aren’t so quick to believe everything we think.
Through meditation we may also discover that our pain contains a great deal of wisdom. When we lean into the sharp points we gain great insight, which can literally change how we see ourselves and the world. As the author Gina Greenlee says, “Embrace those parts of yourself that you’ve skillfully avoided until now. That’s your true adventure.”
Does this ring true for you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
If you know someone who would like this post, please share!