by Ben Ralston
I used to be a leaf blown on the wind.
Sometimes following my hunger, sometimes my thirst, sometimes my pleasure.
Usually… no, always, running away from my pain.
Running from pain, and chasing pleasure. The Pleasure Principle.
Well, there is another way to live… and it involves Waking Up.
Waking Up is an active process that means making the unconscious, conscious.
And I want to give you one ‘life-hack’ that you can use daily to transform the underlying causes of your unconscious behaviours. Use this life-hack. Don’t waste decades like I did, avoiding pain and chasing pleasure without ever really waking up to your own power and magnificence.
Because life is supposed to be magnificent, dignified, joyful. It is supposed to be a wild ride, a fun and funny rollercoaster at the end of which we let out a sigh of relief – that this last breath is the sweetest of all.
So, here’s a powerful life-hack that will bring your unconscious into consciousness, helping you wake up, one released trigger-point at a time.
Whenever you get ‘triggered’ (unconsciously activated into a feeling, thought stream, or behaviour not of your choosing, usually out of context for the situation), stop. Stop, and do the following process:
1 – Claim back your Power:
Recognise, consciously, that you have been unconsciously activated: say to yourself:
“I am triggered”
Choose, consciously, to never be triggered in this way again: say it:
“This is the last time I am triggered in this way”
2 – Go Hunting:
This means stalking yourself.
Follow the trail: figure out at what moment you were triggered (ie – when she said that, or he did that.).
Ask yourself what happened exactly in that moment. ie – her saying that made me feel sad / angry / whatever. This is the ‘trigger point’.
3 – Excavate the trigger point
Ask the question: how did that (ie – sad, angry, whatever) make me feel?
Keep asking that question (how did that make me feel) until you get to the deepest feeling – a gut feeling.
Then observe how your body responded to that gut feeling.
4 – Acknowledge all of the above, slowly, with presence.
Acknowledge what happened, how it made you feel, and how that made you feel, and how that made you feel, and how your body responded. Acknowledge it all, piece, by piece, by piece.
This is a crucial part of the process, because at the heart of acknowledgment is acceptance.
To accept something fully means to be conscious of it, to embrace it, and to love it.
When you do that, with presence, this pattern will fall away like an autumn leaf: it has served its purpose, and now you can grow into a new season.
Here’s an example of the CHEA (Claim, Hunt, Excavate and Acknowledgement) Process in Action:
Your boss casually asks you if you can take on another project. Instead of saying “no” because you’re already snowed under, you go into an emotional tailspin, and say “yes, sure”.
Guess what? You just gave away your power because you got triggered. Ok, happens to the best of us (until it doesn’t). So you go through the process above.
1 – First, you take responsibility for what happened, and claim back your power. You recognise that it happened, and you choose to never let it happen again.
“I acknowledge that I’m triggered, that I gave my power away, and that I’m not working over the weekend. Fuck. This is the last time I am going to be triggered in this way.”
2 – You hunt down the trigger point, the moment when you went into a tailspin.
“It was when my boss asked me to take on extra work and I knew I didn’t have the capacity but I was afraid to say no.”
3 – Excavate it – go deep down and find the gut feeling, and then the body reaction.
“I felt afraid, that made me feel weak, that made me feel worthless, that made me feel powerless, that made me want to curl up into a little ball.”
4 – Acknowledge it all, with gratitude. It has served you, and you no longer need it.
“I acknowledge that I was triggered by my boss’s request I take on another project. I acknowledge that I was afraid to say no. I acknowledge this this made me feel weak. I acknowledge that this made me feel worthless. I acknowledge that this made me feel powerless. I acknowledge that I wanted to curl up into a little ball.”
“I acknowledge this pattern, and I choose consciously to let it go and to reclaim this aspect of my power”.
The reason we have these triggers, and the reason they activate us unconsciously is trauma.
At some point in time, a very long time ago, something happened that made you feel unsafe. It made you feel powerless, and your body, (unable to express the fight / flight instincts), froze.
Your ego – by which I mean that subconscious part of the mind that is responsible for keeping you safe – stored the association “freezing (curling into a ball) keeps me safe” in the “important things to keep on doing in order to stay safe” closet.
So when your boss asks you to take on more work, it feels unsafe to say no, and you freeze.
In this way, we are all victims of and slaves to our past. Until we choose not to be.
Waking up is about becoming FULLY PRESENT to these unconscious dynamics within us. The process above is the way to do that, and by doing that, you will become more and more present.
Every time you excavate and acknowledge an unconscious trigger you are healing a past trauma.
You don’t need to know what the trauma was – who cares, it’s in the past! That trauma itself isn’t the issue – it’s how you keep on being unconsciously triggered by it that’s important.
One caveat: the process above is not always so simple. There are a few factors that might prevent you from being able to do it: secondary gain and subconscious identifications / beliefs / fears for example.
Because when you feel this good, you have to share it!
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