Your partner makes a silly comment over dinner, but suddenly the energy between you abruptly changes. You might feel tears stinging at the back of your eyes, your throat gets tight, your stomach drops, and a wave of hurt flows over you. You withdraw or lash out. Your partner is confused – they didn’t mean it that way. What just happened?
We have situations like this every day: one small event triggers a disproportionately intense emotional response. We may start to think that people don’t like us, people can’t be trusted, people will let us down and hurt us, or that we are just too sensitive. When a small trigger leads to a cascade of negative feelings, this usually means it has tapped into some of our old wounds. The emotion we experience is not linked to the immediate moment, but rather is a flood from the past.
How can we stop this from happening? Past wounds need to heal properly. Next time you are aware of a flood of emotions coming over you, close your eyes and float back in time as far as you can. Focus on the sensations in your body linked to the feeling. What memories pop up? Sometimes it may surprise us to see where the origin of this hurt comes from.
The next step is to work on disconnecting the links between triggers, memories, and feelings. That way the past can remain the past and small events today will not cause intense overwhelming emotions. Therapy can help to change the feeling of the memory and slowly break down these links. Therapists use special techniques to help the brain process past trauma to support this process.
For more information or to book a consultation with psychologist Dr. Esslin Terrighena, please contact (852) 2521 4668 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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