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Do you have a family member like that?
It’s usually a father, mother or sibling that brings up a big charge within you.
Or it could be someone else in the family.
They are the ones that easily trigger you no matter what you do, bringing up big emotions. And if anyone else had said or done this, your emotional response wouldn’t be this strong, or this charged.
You’ve probably wondered what it is about them that creates such a big response in you. And it’s a response that you seem to have no control over. It arises and hits you pretty quickly.
And they don’t even have to be doing much of anything for these feelings to arise.
You can’t talk to anyone about it, because what exactly do you say?
Nobody would seem to get it or understand it.
So what do you do when you have a family member that brings up emotions that just don’t match what is physically happening around you?
Firstly, stop ‘thinking’ about it, and I’ll tell you why.
I have been working with this beautiful client whose mother triggers her. Despite living on the other side of the world, she still greatly triggers her. In her words, “my mother just has to open her mouth and I feel these emotions rise up in me. It just doesn’t make sense because it’s not as if she’s doing something in that moment.”
When heightened emotions and strong emotions are triggered, the two parts of the brain stop temporarily stop speaking to one another. Big emotions shut down the left brain, the side of the brain that is responsible for words and amp up the right side, the emotional brain.
It’s where phrases such as “he just went ape” come about because it’s as if we become primitive all over again and we can’t speak words.
It can be why we are so irrational with our words when something drastic happens.
I remember when my dog was attacked over 10 years ago. Shelby and I were going for a run when two pitball-staffies ran down another street, straight at us, and latched onto Shelby. One on each side. They dragged her to the centre of the road and proceeded to shred her. It ended up taking five men over 20 mintues to get the two dogs off of her. Then one guy put us both in his car and took us to the nearest vet.
I couldn’t get onto my husband so I rang my dad. I was a mess. I just couldn’t get the words out right. He went and picked up my husband and when they walked into the vet’s office, and seen the blood that had been splattered up the walls and even the ceiling and seen the pool of blood around Shelby and myself, both their faces when white. It’s an image I’ll never forget.
Dad told me he thought I was exaggerating on the phone and couldn’t really understand what I was saying. The words just didn’t come out because I was in the emotional brain, the right side of the brain and it shut down my ability to communicate.
Now it doesn’t need a gruesome attack to cause words being shut down.
It can be a small confrontation with a family member.
Have you ever had to catch up with a parent or sibling and rehearsed the words you would say over and over again? Even at 3am?
Then you see them face-to-face and you suddenly forget every great sentence and line you wanted to say.
You open your mouth and “umm” and “blurrr” comes out and you fumble your way through.
It can be really hard to find your voice when someone brings up heightened emotions.
So what to do?
When you are in those moments, what can you do to help you find your voice again?
1) Understand Brain Science
When we undergo heightened emotions, even ones that are only on the inside, not necessarily displayed on the outside, our logical verbal brain shuts down.
When this part of the brain shuts down it can be hard for us to formulate our words, get our words out and even listen to the other words.
That’s why, when you walk away from a conversation, even a friendly one, you can think “shit, I didn’t say xyz” or “I should have said xyz when they said abc”.
Energetically when you get lost and stuck on your words like this, all of our energy heads upwards, to our head and brain and energetically we concentrate all of our energy on our mind and not the body.
But the body is where we need to be.
Because when the left side shuts down words just don’t happen.
The right side, the emotional side, is the part that needs to be communicated to.
We became a little like cave men. This part of the brain responds to gestures, touch, grunts and repetitive words.
So if you are feeling lost for words, drop your energy down into your body. To do this take a deep breathe in, make the out breathe longer than the in breathe and drop your energy down to your body.
Then touch your body. Rub your arm, tap your fingers on your leg or scratch your head.
Bring yourself back into your body with breath and by touch.
It calms down your right side of your brain and calms the emotions that are going on within you.
This then allows the left side of the brain to begin to function again.
You can do this as often as you need.
When you are with family.
In a meeting with the boss.
Speaking up to a friend.
This is a great band-aid, but as we know there is a root cause to this.
You don’t want to be using this technique everyday for your life. You want to know what’s caused it.
2) It’s Just a Story
You might have a challenge with your sister and how she made a comment at the family picnic about your parenting style or about your work.
If it had been anyone else, you problaby wouldn’t feel this way.
But she said it.
And it’s stuck with you.
The conversation is going around and around in your head, eating away at you.
You know you should let it go.
It’s not really that big of a deal.
The truth is, it’s just a story.
It’s a real one.
But it’s just a story that your ego has attached to.
So it’s not actually about the comments your sister (or mother, father or cousin) have made.
Find out what’s really going on by asking yourself this:
“If it couldn’t be about how my sister said my children get away with too much [insert your trigger here], then what is it really about?”
If you take away the story by saying it couldn’t be about the comment they made, you drop beneath the story and uncover what it really is about.
It might be actually be reflecting how you feel you always need to explain your parenting style or that you are feeling isolated because you have no mamma-friends who understand your parenting values and are feeling very isolated.
These statements by family that trigger us are keys to what is really going on.
Address the root cause and their comments wash off, like water on a ducks back.
I have used this tool so many times with my clients … and with family and it works. Learnt the root cause and clear it.
I’ve created a little graphic you can use.
Let me know how you go.
Helena Ryan lives in Brisbane Australia with her husband, son and border collie. When she’s not working she’s reading books, going camping or bushwalking or playing diggers with her son in the sandpit. She loves to garden and travel. She has served in the Australian Army and spent a decade as a Primary School Teacher. In 2011 she helped her husband clear his cancer, a 6x4x2” tumour around his lungs.
P.S. If this resonated with you, I work with female entrepreneurs from all around the world to identify how their ancestral lineage is impacting their business and their personal life. Find out how your Ancestral Lineage is impacting your journey.