How to remain connected to heart when activated
Can I ask what kinds of things do you do when a conflict or reactivity arises with a loved one? I’m looking for helpful, heartful ideas on how to remain connected to the ground of love when we get activated in some way (triggered, scared, defensive, etc.).
This is a thing I am working on too. I’ve noticed that for me, it’s actually more useful to think about what I can do when I’m not in conflict – I think of it like practicing/ preparing for the real event. For example, mindfulness about my thoughts/ feelings in every day life when I’m not triggered means that I’m more aware of the story in telling myself.
I’ve found loving kindness meditation to be quite helpful too.
I think just setting the conscious intention everyday to hold myself and others in compassion and kindness is a large part of it. I still (frequently) get caught in the moment and snap/ react…. But I have noticed a distinct change in the way I respond in occasions when I’m only a little annoyed/ scared – maybe that would help? Find situations/ interactions where it’s less difficult, and practice being heartful?
All the very best.
This is where the rubber meets the road for sure. The first thing I do is simply to stop internally even if I’m in mid-process with my loved one. I Remember to breathe. I literally drop my attention into my heart, and just feel that space. It sort of grounds me. Even if there is a contraction around my heart, it reminds me it’s there. At the same time I’m allowing the reflexive reactions of my system to flow through – thoughts, sensations, impulses. I don’t try to stop them. I also don’t buy into them I’m scanning for what needs I have in the moment. What wants to be held and seen? What does the other person need. What wants to be learned. What opportunity is there? If I’m just too triggered, it helps to take 5 – 15 minutes. Just breathing. I like to ask for guidance from my heart. When something emerges that has that special feel of being grounded or opening. I’ll know it has wisdom. Then I act on it. All these things can take a few seconds or minutes. I wish you the very best, and let us know if any of this works. Oh lastly, I would say patience and the willingness to keep trying. I’m surprised how often I’ve reacted before touching my heart. It’s a process. Good luck!
For me, recognizing my own freaked out nervous system has been big. That helps me be real with where I am at, and not get in a defensive circumstance, or strategic with the other person. It also helps me open with compassion to my own experience. Though, this does take courage, and I have found it depends on my relationship with the other person. For example, if there is wisdom in our relationship, I can not only stop and feel my own volatile reactivity, but I can say something like, “Wow, I just stopped, and now I can see how afraid I feel at this moment…” This dialogue, engaged with honesty, I have found leads to a discovery of something closer to the actual concerns and care of the two people rather than the whole fight or flight thing.
I have also found that if it’s with someone who I am close enough with, I can ask them for help. I may apologize first for any unskillful way I have been relating with, and this seems to discharge things a bit, and then I may ask something specific, “Wow, there is a strong holding in shoulders now, can you help me, and just put your hand on this shoulder for a little bit.” So there are creative ways to bring it more somatic, and less of story.
Lastly, I agree with Fa on the cultivation of that space out of conflict as well, because that creates the foundation that can be drawed on when times get tough.
So great to hear about your hand signal. I did that last month with my partner, when I was getting activated a lot. I would put my hand to the side in a certain way when I noticed I was speaking from really scared parts of myself. I also used the word “laboratory,” when there were times I was overwhelmed and focusing and focusing on something where I needed space.
Funny to hear of another employing similar strategies, I think these gestures show that despite the strong level of triggering, awareness is there somewhere.
One possible challenge of dropping directly into the heart in a situation like this, is that the chest can be really constricted and without sufficient presence it could lead to more freak out for a lot of us. So what usually is helpful in a situation of such charge is coming to a more resourced/pleasant area in the body and stay there until attention is strong enough to explore the chest that is often constricted.
I am doing studies now on trauma release, so here are my studies coming out!
Thank you Teja for mentioning the “freaked out nervous system.” It’s a huge piece of the puzzle. I appreciate the idea of stopping and articulating a feeling that is related to the reaction that I might be having.
My partner and I in the past few days have developed a hand signal, (sort of like a “safe word”) that either of us can flash without having to articulate anything if we’re feeling a little triggered and need for everything to slow down a little so that we can do as Bruce suggested above: drop attention into the heart.
Fa, I totally agree with you as well about working on a wider level on cultivating the kind of kindness and compassion needed which can be applied to any circumstance.