When we get upset, what’s going on isn’t exactly what we tell ourselves is going on


When we get upset or triggered, what’s going on often isn’t exactly what we tell ourselves is going on.

(a) We have wounds (velcro, beliefs, identifications) waiting to be triggered. These are often initially created in childhood, and then recreated until we take a closer look at them. (b) These are triggered by life circumstances. (c) It seems scary and painful to feel the sensations and look at the associated images and words. (d) We go into stories instead, and these stories are usually about the current triggering situation. We distract ourselves from feeling and looking by going into the stories about the current situation.

This means that although there may be things we need to take care of in the current situation, what’s going on in us isn’t what we think or tell ourselves is going on. What’s really going on is that something old (and also new since it’s here now) is triggered in us, we avoid feeling and looking at it, and attention instead go and get absorbed into stories about the current triggering situation.

Of course, as we get to see and become familiar with this, we do recognize it more as it happens. We may use language such as “this triggered an old wound in me, and I feel scared / hurt / upset / angry”.

It’s important to not get too one sided here. The story we have about the current triggering situation often has a grain of truth in it, and there is often something we need to take care of. At the same time, we can notice and be aware of the dynamic described above. We can do both, and that becomes easier with experience and familiarity with the dynamics.

And this is definitely not something to use against others to deflect from our own behavior and for us to avoid feeling and seeing things in ourselves. Some folks will say “you got triggered, you need to look at that”. There is a grain of truth in it, of course, but it’s also cheap and very often used by the person to avoid taking responsibility for something they themselves did or said.

What comes up colors everything


When something is triggered in us, it can color everything. I know that from my own experience and from working with clients.

An old trauma may surface, old hurt, anger, fear, sadness, hopelessness, inflation. Something that wasn’t fully felt when it surfaced initially. Not fully loved. Something that remained unfelt, unloved, and unexamined.

So it comes up now, and it can color everything. And our minds tries to make sense of it by explaining how something in our current situation triggered – or even created – this feeling or experience.

This may also come up in a session, and it may be directed at the facilitator or the situation.

Anger may surface, and be directed at anything and anyone in the present situation including the facilitator. Sadness may come up, and our mind makes up a story about how our life now creates this sadness. Hopelessness may color the experience of the session, and the client may feel hopeless about the process or the prospect of ever healing.

This is called transference in mainstream psychology. As usual, I don’t like that word so much. It’s too limited and sounds unnecessarily clinical.

Then there is counter-transference, where something is triggered in the facilitator (or therapist) and color his or her experience of the session and/or the client.

It’s universally human. And it’s good to be aware of. It may happen, and if we notice what’s happening there is a little more distance to it, and more room to relate to it more consciously.

This is something it’s very helpful to educate clients on, as well as facilitator trainees.

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TRE combined with Natural Rest, triggering & inquiry


I am exploring combining Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) with Natural Rest, triggering, and inquiry.

One is to combine natural rest with the sessions. Notice and allow. Notice sensations. Images. Words. Sounds. Allow it all. See how it is to allow it. Notice it’s already allowed. (By awareness, mind, life.) Notice how it is to shift from thinking to noticing. Notice even the thoughts that seems the most intimate, the most like “you”. See how it is to allow them too.

Another is to trigger stressful images (memories, situations) within natural rest, and while trembling. This may help release tension around this issue. It can be something stressful. A regret. Trauma. A compulsion. A time you wanted to …. (smoke, drink, use drugs). Or anything else. Bring the image to mind. Notice. Allow. Rest with it.

Yet another is to take time to look at images and words, and feel sensations. (a) Look at the image. Notice the texture. Colors. Shapes. Lines. Notice it as an image. See it up in front of you. (b1) Look at the word. Look at the letters. The spaces in between and around the letters. (b2) Listen to the words. Listen to the sounds. Say them in silence or out loud. Listen to it as sounds. (c) Feel the sensations. See how it is to be curious about it. Give it full permission to be there. Take time to feel it. Notice the space around the sensations. Notice the space within the sensations.

Following the TRE session, we can take what surfaced (if anything) to inquiry. It’s also possible to do it during the TRE session, by occasionally and briefly ask simple questions about what’s here. Is that image me, the one who is worthless? Is that image of my mother my actual mother? Are those words angry? Are they me, the one who is angry? Does that sensation mean that something terrible is going to happen? (Or is happening, or did happen.) This requires some familiarity with one or more forms of inquiry, and also self-facilitation.

I have for a while brought some principles from Breema into TRE. Find a way to do it that’s comfortable. So you could do it forever. (Body Comfortable) Notice the support from the floor. (Mutual support.) Relax. Allow the body to do it on it’s own. (No extra.)

It’s also possible to do it the other way. While resting with what’s here, I can invite in trembling. Or I can even invite in trembling during inquiry. It’s all an exploration to see what happens, and what seems to work for me in the situation I am in.

Dormant vs clear seeing


I decided to shorten this post:

There is a big difference between untriggered identifications and the ones that are seen through.

Identifications may be dormant for a while as part of everyday life, or because of a temporary transcendent state. And they are still there. How do we know? Because they are, or can be, triggered again.

It’s different to see through them. To hold a particular identification in loving presence, see how it’s created by the mind, see the consequences in our life of that identification, and that something else is possible. That’s when the charge around it tends to soften. That’s when it doesn’t have to go away, or be dormant, or be trancendet. It’s OK as it is, because it’s seen more clearly for what it is.

A dormant identification doesn’t require much of us. But seeing through it does. It often requires intention, attention, and some diligence. In addition to good practical guidance from someone who is familiar with the process from own experience.

This is one reason why retriggering a particular identification is so helpful in inquiry. It’s often relatively easy to get to a more peaceful state, but that doesn’t mean that the identification is seen through. It may just have gone temporarily dormant.

So we can retrigger, and see if there is a still a charge there.

But you are unlovable, aren’t you?

Look at the situation we started with. Is there a response in your body? 

Wouldn’t it be good with a drink now? 

Some facilitators jump into retriggering without warning. Others may explain the reason and that they’ll do it at some point during the session. Others may also ask if it’s OK to retrigger. (That may give the client more sense of control, and they know they consented to it.)

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