Your past wounds can cause you to have intense emotional reactions that affect your daily life. Through emotional self-care, you can begin to use those emotional triggers as a guide to healing and transform your pain into growth.
5-Step Emotional Self-Care Plan to Heal From Your Past
-Stop re-triggering the emotion
-Find a healthy way to express the emotion
-Look within and identify your past wounds
-Offer love to your inner child
When you get injured the first thing you do is find a first aid kit to treat the wound but, there’s a good chance you were never given a tool kit for dealing with your emotional wounds. In fact, your deepest emotional wounds might be only a few years younger than you are, and yet they’ve never been tended to properly. Using emotional self-care, you can begin to heal those past wounds and let them guide you on your self-growth journey.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical health professional and my words are not intended to replace seeking professional medical advice. Read the full disclaimer here.
Using Your Emotional Triggers as a Guide to Healing
Those unhealed past wounds manifest in many ways, defining the way you think, and creating limiting beliefs. One way wounds reveal themselves is through emotional triggers. Being emotionally triggered can create tsunamis of anger, guilt, fear, or sadness, but they also point back to the initial wound if you pay attention.
According to Crystal Raypole of Healthline, “An emotional trigger is anything — including memories, experiences, or events — that sparks an intense emotional reaction, regardless of your current mood.”
These intense emotional reactions are a natural response to someone or something touching an unhealed past wound. This pain is a cry for attention – and an opportunity to give yourself the love and compassion you need.
Ignore the wound and it will continue to fester, causing you more pain, now and in the future. But, you can also choose to clean the wound and give it the tender love and attention it needs.
Before I started learning from my emotional reactions and recognizing their connection to my past, I attached the pain I experienced to outside circumstances. I lashed out at the people I cared about and blamed my surroundings because I thought they were responsible for the suffering I felt.
The truth is, I just didn’t understand what was going on within me.
Through self-awareness, I began to understand how the deep anger and sadness I felt related to experiences from my past. I saw how these wounds had been dictating my life since I was young. Using emotional self-care, I began my journey of healing and growth.
Today I want to share those emotional self-care techniques with you. I’ll share with you how to stop re-triggering the emotion, how long an emotional reaction actually lasts, and give you ideas to help express yourself when your feeling triggered. Once you create space, you can turn within and healing can begin.
(If you feel triggered ask yourself ‘Am I safe right now?’ If your answer is no please take care of your immediate physical and emotional well-being by calling The National Abuse Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or 911. You deserve a safe, secure life.)
Stop Re-Triggering Your Emotion
This emotional self-care technique is about stepping back to create space between the external trigger and the internal sensations. When you feel triggered, the tendency is to repeat a story to yourself. You blame your emotions on this story and repeat it over and over, telling yourself how things should be, trying to justify your reaction.
Well, first of all, you don’t need to justify your emotions to anyone, even yourself. Your emotions and physiological reactions are 100% natural. Give yourself permission to experience all emotions, including ones you may perceive as negative like resentment, anger, sadness, and guilt. Accepting what you’re feeling is the first step to finding healing within your emotional reactions.
When you allow yourself to be present and feel into an intense emotion instead of repeating the story to yourself, the emotion can fade away in about 90 seconds.
Yup, that’s right. If you can take a step back and stop re-triggering the emotion, the whole commotion can be over in less than a minute and a half.
It’s worth mentioning that learning to let go of your story is a process. It will take practice and patience. Don’t feel like you need to get it down right away.
Just be aware that it’s possible and do your best to witness the physical sensations of the emotion instead of getting caught in a story. It’s about observing the emotion, rather than identifying with it. From this place, we can accept what we’re feeling, and allow it to guide us toward growth.
>>Read more about The Lifespan of an Emotion from livingthemess.com here.
Related: Create space for healing every morning and learn How to Do Your Morning Pages: A Daily Self-Care Journal Ritual That Will Transform Your Life
Self-expression is an important part of the healing process when you feel triggered. It allows you space to release your story, while bringing awareness to the deeper internal causes.
-Art can be a beautiful way to express emotions. Don’t worry about it being museum-worthy, just sit down with a piece of paper and a few markers and scribble out whatever you”re feeling.
-Grab a journal and write whatever comes up without any self-judgment, no matter what it is. Just let everything- thoughts, body sensations, stories, or anything else you experience pour out onto the page. If you’re having trouble letting go of the story, it can be helpful to write in the form of a letter to who/whatever triggered your emotional reaction.
-If you feel a build-up of anger, try punching a pillow or even screaming. Finding a way to physically express anger might seem dramatic, but releasing strong emotions is an important part of the healing process.
As you practice expressing yourself, don’t fall back into the trap of trying to justify your emotions by repeating what happened and get re-tangled in a story. Expression is about creating space, releasing, and allowing so you can move forward to acceptance and growth.
Look Within & Identify Your Emotional Wound
Diving into yourself to uncover your wounds takes a commitment to self-love and self-discovery. Only through being completely honest with yourself about your experiences will you begin to see the truth of your trauma and the patterns it has created.
Many past events are capable of causing a painful wound that still affects your present-day life. There is a common misconception that a wound must be from some big, catastrophic event, but trauma is about more than what happened – it’s about how it impacted you.
Start by reflecting on past times you’ve experienced this intense emotional reaction. It can be helpful to write in a journal. Look at any common threads between the instances of emotional reactions.
Do any memories stick out from your past that might be related? If so, start by writing them down and reflecting upon them. The strongest memories you have tend to be of moments that have had a big influence on who you are today.
Opening up and exploring your internal wounds isn’t easy, but with time, self-awareness and authenticity, you can begin to learn and heal from your past.
>>Check out this article from Loner Wolf for more on discovering your deepest core wound.
This is sensitive work and depending on your situation, it may be beneficial to seek outside help from a spiritual teacher, therapist, or psychologist.
If you are doing this work and need emotional support, please call 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers. They provide FREE and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Related: Learn how to stay grounded as you heal and grow with these Grounding Techniques.
Offer Love to Your Inner Child
Asking “What do I need and how can I give it to myself right now?” is a self-care practice that can guide you to remember that you are free to give love to yourself at any time.
Practice offering yourself love whenever you feel triggered. Not only your present self but your past self as well. If you could go back in time, what would you say to yourself? Say those things to your inner child. Now is the time to give yourself the love, the support and even the discipline that you needed then.
Forgiveness is letting go of the past so you can embrace the present.
With forgiveness, you untie yourself from the knot of suffering and give yourself the gift of freedom. Forgiveness comes when you can look at your past and say, this happened to me, but it’s not who I am. It comes when you’re ready to release your ideas of retribution and accept what you’ve been left with. If you’re not ready to forgive the person or circumstance that hurt you, that’s okay. As Yoko Ono said “Take forgiveness slowly. Don’t blame yourself for being slow. Peace will come.”
So take it slow. Start by forgiving yourself for not being ready to forgive. Forgive yourself for being upset and forgive your emotional wound for being triggered. The act of forgiving creates the necessary atmosphere for new life to bloom.
Having your past wounds poked can be painful. Looking within to discover the cause when this happens can be even more so. But, this inward awareness is the first step to rewriting your pain into a learning experience.
If you don’t learn from your emotional reactions, they will keep coming back until you listen. So stop repeating the story and look inside to find the truth. The next time you have an intense emotional reaction, practice emotional self-care and embrace your past so you can have a better tomorrow.
Thank you for being here,
Transforming your life starts with an intention. Get your FREE Intention Setting Workbook Here.