May 2010



This month a client who is in a 12-Step Programme gives us an insight into how insidious old patterns can be – they even creep into your recovery work! Stargazer talks to us about:  
Triggers, Jumping the Gun and Letting Go

Yesterday I was working on a project with a colleague when something he said triggered me really badly. When my heart started racing and my stomach knotting and my despair urged me to do something to change these horrible feelings, I knew I was being triggered by some past event that had time-travelled into the situation between us.

I decided to sit down and start journaling “what these feelings reminded me of”. I began to describe in detail exactly what had bugged me in that situation. I could see my tendency to make this a description about what I thought his triggers were, but I avoided that. I was able to see, historically, where my own triggers originated, but it didn’t help.

I thought I could help myself with journaling, but part of my problem is this idea that I am the only one that can help me. The journaling actually made me feel worse because I was obsessing with my mind – and this is part of my old pattern. My irritation, anger and dis-ease would not let up. Other things I tried doing that day were having a foot massage, going for a walk, and making dinner.

What I had not been doing was asking for help from my ‘Higher Power’. I had been trying to “hold” my emotions and not react. When I was on that walk I was finally just exhausted by all this feeling and I said “I accept this discomfort and I can’t do anything about it – you can, so please help me”. There was some relief in this giving over to it, and to something greater than myself.

That night I was woken by a dream in which someone was running full tilt up the stairs with me in their arms, and I closed my eyes and relaxed without worrying about being bumped.

On waking I went outside to look up at the stars, which were absolutely amazing. I then got back into bed and in my dozy state, found myself reviewing the day as if it was replaying.

I was able to pinpoint the exact moment when I had been triggered. I relived this moment for moment. I realised that the trigger happened just before my colleague had said something, in a silent intake of breath, when I had been expecting praise and encouragement. In that moment I had felt let down and unsupported. I had gone into my dance of making myself small.

Once I had recognised this moment it came to me in my dreamy state, that that was the moment to say to myself “You are an okay person.” Not a glamorous or big statement, but it fits for me right now, in that it feels real and acceptable.

The way I see it, in my dream state, when I was doing nothing, a solution came.

Happy gazing!

Dear Stargazer,

Thank you for sharing this experience. There is an old Chinese saying that if you want to catch a butterfly you need to be still and open your hand.

The 12-Step Programme is an amazing tool for figuring out what it is that is unmanageable in our lives and assisting us to change. What to me is so important is that it says that you don’t have to do this on your own anymore. In fact it is trying to do a thing on one’s own that often gets us into the predicaments we are now experiencing.

This is why before we try to change anything or to help ourselves, the programme suggests we recognise that there is a Source of Wisdom that we can tap into and that all we have to do when we are grappling for solutions is to hand over to this Source, then be still, do nothing, wait patiently and be open for what will come.

What I gather you were trying to do before you asked for help was, metaphorically speaking, attempting to park your car in a crowded parking lot without asking ‘The Parking Angel’ to open up a space for you! However you want to put it: ‘Ask and ye shall receive’/ ‘Knock and the door will be opened’ – try it. It is as simple as that. So next time you need something – remember to ask first.

Best wishes