Coping with triggers

Today I have experienced an unexpected trigger.

Psych central describes a trigger as ‘something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma’.

Triggers are usually set off by something associated with one or more of the five senses – smell, sound, sight, touch and taste.

Today my trigger happened like this…I was out walking the dog when I noticed a parked car that had its rear passenger door open. As I passed the car I was hit with a new car smell that took me right back to being a 13 year old girl, stuck in the back of a car that was taking me to be trafficked.

The smell filled my nose and even my mouth and I felt like my breath had been taken away. My head was filled with the view I had as a 13 year old girl sat in the back of the car. I could feel the fear I experienced then as though it was happening to me right now.

As you can imagine this experience was extremely upsetting and completely unwelcome and unwanted.

Triggers can happen at anytime and are just one of the realties of life after abuse that many survivour’s have to endure. They are very open ended in that they can occur at any time after experiencing trauma and there is no way to predict how long a person could be affected by them.

I personally have accepted the fact that I could be affected by triggers for the rest of my life. This acceptance has gone a long way towards helping me deal with triggers as and when they happen.

So what can you do to help yourself after experiencing a trigger?

Here’s what I did today…

  • Immediately after the trigger I was able to recognise and accept the situation for what it was.
  • I then reminded myself that I was no longer a 13 year old girl in a situation I could not control, but an adult living a life of my own choosing.
  • I then practised gratitude, giving thanks for as many things I could think of that I am thankful for right now, today.
  • I then used some of my five senses to help keep me grounded in the present moment, focussing on what I was experiencing now.

After the initial fear and panic created by a particularly upsetting trigger has passed, I know that I am usually left with a deep sense of sadness that lingers around usually until the next day, so for the rest of that day I am mindful of taking care of myself.

For me this might mean taking some time to myself or reaching out to someone I trust. I might have a bubble bath, watch a film or read a book.

Today I have reached out to you.

I hope that my thoughts on triggers and how to cope with them will be useful to any readers who are experiencing them too.

Please do not suffer in silence. There are many organisations and counsellors out there who know how to help you help yourself if you are struggling.

Thanks for reading,

Love Zoe

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One year on

Today marks one year since my story of fighting back was published.

Sharing my story is just one of the ways I have fought back and I have done so not only for myself, but for anyone else out there who may need a reminder that they are not alone, there is always hope, and that much beauty can be found from pain.

I am incredibly thankful to all of the readers who have taken the time to read my story, and to all those who have reached out to let me know how much my story has helped them.

I had no idea of just how many people I would reach when my story was first published and from so many different parts of the world too!

I hope that my story will continue to help and inspire others for many years to come.

With much love and gratitude,

Zoe

Changes

So it’s almost time to say goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019.

This time of year is often associated with changes, or to be more specific, the changes that we choose to make. And as I stand in the doorway between the old and the new I wonder, what exactly makes for a successful ‘change’?

Planning seems to be an obvious factor in the success of intended changes. An example of which is outlined by the SMART acronym that I discovered over ten years ago when I began my personal training journey.

S – specific

– measurable

A – achievable/attainable

– relevant/realistic

– time bound

There are a few changes I would like to make in the new year, and for me, spiritually speaking , there have been three important considerations that along with SMART planning, has underpinned my most successful changes. 

  1.  January 1st is a good a time as any to make changes, but don’t forget about the other 364 opportune days of the year.
  2. When planning your changes, make sure you focus upon changing what you do, not who you are!
  3. Be consistent

One day, one moment, is all that is needed to make a change.

No matter the date or time we are only ever one moment away from making those inner shifts in our thinking that help us to create the outer changes we wish to see.

Think of a tightrope walker, balanced and present upon the rope. Thinking only of putting one foot in front of the other.

Life is the tightrope and you are the tightrope walker.

The moment the tightrope walker loses their awareness and looks too far ahead, or God forbid, tries to look backwards! He/she risks their place upon the rope, and what was once a place of calm soon becomes chaotic as a fight for balance consumes the walker.

For some, a fall from the rope may not be so bad, for some a fall could be life threatening. Think of those with addictions or facing mental health difficulties. 

I know this imagery may sound a little dramatic and maybe a little disheartening too. Staying focussed and present sounds like hard work. And what is the point of it all, giving so much from moment to moment just to get from one point to another?

The point is to find a peace within yourself that allows you to endure all that must be endured in life without losing yourself in the process. 

When we focus only on putting one foot in front of the other and the things we can change, instead of looking behind or too far ahead, we find an inner peace and stillness that allows the rope we are walking along to disappear. 

There is an old Buddhist saying that goes something along the lines of – there is no path to happiness, happiness is the path.

When we look to change what we do instead of trying to change who we are, and consistently practice this from moment to moment, we will be successful and a lot happier too!

I have been blessed this year to see my life story published in not one but two languages. I have also started this blog which has allowed me to connect with readers all over the world!

I want to take this moment to thank all of you reading this for your continued support. I wish you all the very best for the New Year and beyond.

Love,

Zoe

scrabble resolutions
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Hope…continued

So, a few months ago I shared the story of the Christmas cactus.

I could not help but be reminded of the power of hope when I witnessed the enormous effort the plant went to to survive, even though it had no way of knowing whether or not it would be successful.

I could identify with this in so many ways, for so many reasons. I have been hoping and ‘sending out roots’ for most of my life.

A few months after the above picture was taken, you might be surprised to learn that this Christmas cactus burst into bloom!

And so I discovered that for the Christmas cactus, it is actually darkness that triggers growth as oppose to light. I could identify with that too!

So the winters darkness, along with some loving care from myself and a determined effort from the plant, yielded beautiful results.

See for yourself…

What a beautiful transformation!

And so, nature has again given me an example of what can be achieved in times of darkness.

Let this be a reminder for all of us that hope, when combined with determination and love can transform our lives completely.

This has worked for me, it has worked for the Christmas cactus, and it can work for you too!

May you have a wonderful December and a lovely Christmas.

Love,

Zoe

Soldier

A soldier saved me long ago who did not wish to fight, but still, for truth and justice fought, and fought with all their might.

They took the brutal stabbings, shielded me from vicious lies, almost dying every night for me, so I could wake up each morning and rise.

Because of this trusted soldier I could go to school each day, and hold it all together when asked something normal, like, to play.

But I’m no longer small now, and I know deep in my heart, that I was that brave solider taking bullets in the dark.

We made it through the war my friend. We grew up and now are free. And with a grateful heart my friend, the good life I dedicate to thee.

Greatness is natural. Apologising for it is not.

I woke up in the middle of the night with an urge to write. I couldn’t remember what I had been dreaming about, and I was still half asleep as I scribbled down a total of seven words.

The next morning I was excited to read what I had written. I couldn’t remember exactly what it was, but I knew that it had been important enough to wake me, and so I discovered, that with blurry vision and a mind that was still half asleep, I had written…

Greatness is natural. Apologising for it is not.

I still could not remember the dream I had had, but as soon as I read the words I had written, I was filled with a sense of knowingness and gratitude, because I knew what those words meant to me even though I had never put them together before.

When I say the word greatness, I am not talking about anything physical or anything that is associated with the ego. I am instead referring to our true nature and truth.

The greatness I am referring to is the spark of consciousness that exits at our core and connects us to all things, our natural life force.

Denying our true greatness, our true nature and truth is something I am sure we can all relate to. Holding ourselves back, both personally and professionally, out of fear, afraid perhaps that our truth will not be accepted or understood.

This is not natural behaviour.

These are unnatural habits, that have been passed onto us from outside sources that have nothing to do with greatness or truth.

Learn to recognise and tell the difference between what is your truth and what is not. Listen to the great wisdom that is at your core and let it guide you come what may.

As Carl Sagan famously said – we are made of star stuff. So let’s not deny or apologise for our greatness any longer!

Unapologetically yours,

Zoe

 

Autumn leaves

Truly seeing a person is like witnessing a bunch of freshly fallen autumn leaves that are suddenly and unexpectedly lifted up from the earth and spun, swirling around each other, perfectly supported and perfectly timed, as if performing a well rehearsed dance, just for you.

Revealing such beauty, truth, and colour that it is enough to take your breath away, before all too soon being gently laid to rest back upon the earth, as if there had never existed such a thing.

Our lives are short, as short as a gust of wind that carries the autumn leaves. And like the autumn leaves, we don’t have much time to be or be seen.

So flow unbridled with the breath of life. Let it lift you and guide you as high as you are willing to go. Dance wildly, whilst you may, with and around all that you encounter, unyielding.