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The Body Remembers

Have you ever been in a situation where someone says something to you, something that is harmless in theory, but you find yourself reacting in a way that comes out of no where? Perhaps your spouse asks you for a cup of coffee and suddenly you burst out in tears and can't even really explain why. Maybe you are driving down the road one day, and suddenly feel flushed, sweating and heart racing. Maybe you cringe every time you have to go into work and see someone who sits at the front desk, someone who has never had any ill will with you and you cannot for the life of you, figure out why you feel that way when you see them.

First of all, let me assure you that you are okay. You are not a bad person. Your body is reacting in a way because it is triggered by something. It can be something as little as a smell, the weather, a color, someone resembling someone else, a song you hear, a significant date on the calendar, a physical location, or perhaps a phrase someone says to you. There are no right or wrongs when it comes to triggers. We can't always explain why exactly they trigger reactions but usually with psychotherapy we can discover the meanings behind such events. What is linked to that cup of coffee? It's not "What is wrong with me?!" but "What happened TO me?!"

The first step to overcoming these triggers and being able to react differently is to accept that they are happening. Talk about them. Seek help in a professional that will treat you with empathy, not judgement. Usually, these triggers are linked to negative self talk statements --- that generally are not true -- but they are things we tell ourselves and believe to be true. We as human beings are good at blaming ourselves --- we are never good enough, we should have done this or should have done that. Accept what is triggering you, talk about it and learn to change those thinking patterns. It's then and only then that you can begin to heal and not be afraid to walk in that office door anymore, but instead greet that front office person and see them for who they are, not for who they remind you of.

Show yourself some grace. We are all human beings and we are not robots. What happens to us as young as infants can change our brain chemistry. While we may not always remember what exactly happened to us, our body remembers -- and it lets us know. It wants some help. Pay attention to it. Don't be ashamed to ask for help. The more we talk about psychotherapy and mental health the less stigmatizing it becomes.

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