Dear Candy Q & A - Triggers for Rounds, Decreasing Adrenalin, & Morning Routine
Q: Can you review what we are to use as triggers for rounds?
A: There a many different ways to trigger yourself before retraining your brain. The first place to start would be using what causes symptoms or discomfort for you. The point of triggering yourself before a round of practice is so that you can change your brain's association with the things that your brain perceives as stressors to you. By bring up the trigger right before the round, and then redirecting and elevating your emotional state, your brain begins to link elevated emotions with the original trigger. Rather than feeling threatened by it anymore, it starts to see it as something that is no big deal, and even starts to associate positive feelings with it.
It is also recommended that you practice around symptoms when they arise. By redirecting and elevating your emotional state when symptoms occur, you are also training your brain out of that response. We don't necessarily have to know what the trigger is in those situations (sometimes you might consciously know, sometimes you might not). Either way, your brain already knows what it is associated with, so we can stay out of trying to figure it out and just retrain. The way that I look at this is, if symptoms are arising you are already triggered so to speak. We bring the symptom briefly into our conscious awareness (don't focus on it for too long) and then go into the practice. If you wake up in the morning, for example, and you notice symptoms right away, going into a round of practice using those symptoms as a trigger can be very effective in helping set the tone for the day. With that initial morning round you wouldn't add any other triggers in because your system is already triggered. That being said, we don't want all of our practice rounds to be around symptoms that are arising. We want at least one or two rounds where we are actively introducing a trigger so that we can gain a sense of control and mastery over our experience.
The notion of triggering yourself comes from systematic desensitization work in psychology. The idea is that, as we incrementally expose ourselves to perceived threats and see that we are still okay, we change our brain's understanding and pattern of responding to the trigger and we no longer fear the trigger. Over time, it no longer triggers us. In order to do this effectively we need to step outside of our comfort zone into slight discomfort (an indication that your brain is triggered) but we want to be mindful of not pushing too hard to the point that we are so triggered that it makes it difficult to retrain. There is an ideal middle ground, and that is what is referred to as your training zone. We want to stay within our training zone as much as possible, but recognize that there may be times where we are outside of your training zone despite our best intentions. When that happens we just do the best we can and keep retraining.
We can also use emotional states and mental patterns (or Automatic Negative Thoughts) as triggers. Most people go through what I call an "emotional layer" in the process of rewiring which often has familiar emotional states and has specific negative thoughts or core beliefs associated with it. To train around this, we just lightly touch into the emotional state or briefly bring up the negative thought pattern/core belief and then go right into the practice. In my experience, the emotional layer usually comes later in the rewiring process, when people are getting down to the last layers and deeper, longer standing patterns that have been running.
Q: What is the most effective method of decreasing adrenalin in daily life situations?
A: We want to increase the tools in our toolbox that helps us to bring regulation into our nervous system, even for brief moments. The post from last week focuses on the nervous system and outlines some tools as well as a link to an article with ideas that you can use to help with this. Play around with the suggestions and see which ones work best for you. You could also listen to binaural beats for relaxation, which can be found on YouTube or the free Insight Timer app. The more we can cultivate awareness of where our nervous system is at and bring in tools to help move it towards a calm & regulated state, the better off we will be for rewiring. When your system is constantly running on a stress response, introducing even brief moments that move your system toward regulation can be really effective. We don't need to be in regulation all of the time to shift our system, we just need micro moments, which add up over time and effect change.
Q: Can you provide extra guidance on reprogramming myself to consistently get up early in the morning so that I can get my practice in before my daughter wakes? I have done EFT on my own and tell myself that I am a morning person but I'm still not really able to follow through with it and just hit my alarm.
A: As we are moving into the spring and summer months, people often naturally find it a little easier to wake earlier compared to the winter months. We can use this to our advantage to help us create a more consistent routine. In addition, I would suggest doing some rounds of practice around the feelings and thoughts that arise when you first wake up, right before you hit the alarm. There are likely body sensations and specific thoughts that come up that tell you to stay in bed rather than getting up. We want to start to target those specifically. Additionally, as we are breaking the cycle of hitting snooze, we can also have an agreement with ourselves for the first few days that we are going to get up right when the alarm first goes off, but that if we need a nap later in the morning we can create space to do that. This is a temporary measure but can often be a helpful stepping stone in breaking that cycle of going back to sleep because our system knows we will be able to go back to bed again later if we need to, and this can help to alleviate the anxiety of potentially having to trudge through the day exhausted. Often it is the initial getting up part that is the hardest, and once we are up we are able to navigate a little more easily.
You may also consider adding bright light to your routine first thing in the morning. This helps to reset your circadian rhythms, which affects our sleep cycle among a multitude of other processes in our body. You can use natural sunlight, shining it on your face for 15-20 minutes first thing, or a happy light, which is a full spectrum light that mimics sunshine. There is a great travel sized one made by Verilux available on amazon that is relatively inexpensive and does the trick. By resetting your circadian rhythm it can help get your body back into the routine of waking early and more consistently.
Next week: Tips & Tools for those new to rewiring
Until next time!
If you have a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com