Sometimes intense emotion can really swallow us whole.
Anger, sadness, frustration, jealousy, grief, loneliness – whatever it may be..
It can entirely consume us as we get lost in the drama or trauma of our experience.
In recent years however, I’ve become so aware that even in the most extremely charged scenarios, we have choice.
We can be devoured into a dark pit, overwhelmed by what is unfolding…
Or we can take a step back and regroup, regain our power and restore clarity.
I find the following three questions always help me with the latter.
From minor triggers to intense heart pounding moments – without fail they work for me.
You might like to give them a try for yourself.
Number #1 : WHAT AM I BELIEVING HERE THAT MIGHT NOT BE TRUE?
So this first question breaks the narrative.
It helps us to become present and observe what we’re believing about our experience.
Now depending on how charged we are, a few (very) long deep breaths may be required before asking!
Bottom line, this question stops us from being whisked away in the story.
With autopilot temporarily suspended, there’s space to be aware of the meaning we’ve just pinned on what’s happened.
Its not complicated or difficult to do – literally listen to what you’re telling yourself, weed out the dominant thoughts.
Once you become aware of what they are, ask ‘is this really true?”.
Generally those thoughts that really stir us up will either be a flat out “no”, or may have an element of truth to them, with a sneaky judgement or conclusion hiding in there.
To give you an example, I do this with my nine year old daughter Ellie all the time.
She could be in the throws of a total wobbly after not getting her way, and I’ll say “ hey – what are you believing right now that’s hurting/upsetting you?”
And sure enough it wouldn’t be the actual occurrence that’s upset her, it’s what she’s made it mean.
She could say something like “mummy doesn’t love me”, “I hate being a kid” and “my life is so unfair”.
Then I’ll ask her if those beliefs are really true.
And the moment, I mean literally the second she admits to herself they’re not – things change.
She lightens up.
Number #2 : WHAT DO I KNOW HERE / WHAT AM I AWARE OF?
With that initial reaction starting to settle there’s now space to experience more clarity.
Our capacity to perceive information is radically heightened – particularly the subtle type.
When you ask yourself “What do I know”, you’re giving yourself a moment to tune into your intuition…
Parking the critical mind, you have a chance to perceive your inner whispers.
If you’re not practiced at this, its important to be attentive and aware of subtle information you perceive, your inner knowing can speak through any of the senses.
It could come in the form of a sensation, an intensity in the body, a vision, a memory, you may hear something clearly, or get an inspired impulse…
If it’s hazy or ambiguous just ask for more clarity.
The key is learning to decode these signals into useful information you can apply practically.
It can take practice to function this way, and learn to trust it – however, when you do, it can create dramatic changes very fast.
Recently I found myself very annoyed with someone, it was a highly charged reaction, although I didn’t express it directly to them.
After stewing in it for a while eventually I asked question one, and instantly the intensity eased when I realised that what I was telling myself about this person wasn’t true.
Then when I asked what was really going on – “what do I know here?”.
Suddenly I perceived the person’s loneliness and desire for connection.
It shocked me, it never occurred to me that was what they were experiencing and I softened entirely.
Soon afterwards I contacted the person and arranged to meet up.
Well holy moly!! Talk about a different dynamic – they lit up and totally shifted their demeanour towards me.
If I had kept believing the B.S. my mind was telling me, blaming and playing the victim, it would have just perpetuated suffering for both of us.
The expanded perspective relieved me of all my judgements, gave me new awareness – and it felt really good.
Number #3 : IF THIS WAS A DREAM, WHAT WOULD I PREFER TO HAPPEN?
So this question is a little cracker, although its the one I’m least practiced at asking.
It can be the most challenging of the three.
Prying our attention off the issue and redirecting it towards a preferred outcome is unfamiliar territory for a lot of people.
There’s often a nagging tug to come back to the problem, and keep things “real”.
Persistence is worth it though, as this is such a powerful way to derail ourselves from recreating the same old looping patterns and repetitive experiences.
It opens us up to consider new choices, and make room for something entirely different to unfold.
Also as we think of preferred scenarios playing out, we start to feel a lot better too.
As we relax, things can change so much faster.
Basic law of attraction stuff, but its powerful and can create all sorts of magic!
A great place to start is to go to back to the initial moment that triggered you and identify what you felt you were being denied in that moment.
What was threatened – Love? Self-Worth? Security? Your future?
Once you become aware of the underlying threat, reverse it as the foundation for envisioning your preferred outcome.
For instance – if you’re triggered because someone owes you money and they’re refusing to pay – your truly preferred outcome might be to have total ease with money.
As attention is redirected in this way, a stream of new ideas and inspired choices can be received and things can unfold in ways beyond what could have been imagined.
Clear intent is a very powerful thing.
SO IN SUMMARY..
Question one assists us in becoming present as we observe our story and what it is creating.
Question two creates space for us to tap into our intuition as the source of a more all-encompassing perspective.
Question three helps us clarify our intention and redirect or attention towards a preferred outcome.
In Buddhism these three things are referred to as Mindfulness, Insight and Concentration.
All three happening at once – and boom.. we venture into the realm of mind over matter!
This is the essence of true power and liberation.
So next time you find yourself triggered, or in a bit of a rut – maybe give these questions a go and see what unfolds Xx
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