You know those moments when something happens in your life and it triggers within you a painful reaction? A project at work goes “wrong”, your friend isn’t behaving the way you want them to, your financial or health circumstances aren’t meeting your expectations…
Think of the last time this happened to you. You could feel the reaction building within you. You were aware of it in that moment. You didn’t want to feel that way, but somehow the feeling was taking you over. Perhaps it was one of those times when multiple things were happening all at once, with compounding effect and the pressure was building within you like a volcano about to erupt!
Whatever the case, there is always a pivotal point where your inner knowing and loving consciousness are directly looking into the face of your pain, ego and unconsciousness. The million dollar question is, which aspect of yourself will win this showdown?
This topic is close to my heart after a recent comical and challenging experience with my own near epic volcanic eruption! I am laughing in retrospect, but I wasn’t laughing at the time…
Last year I moved my life to Bali, Indonesia. Setting up life in this beautiful place takes patience, resilience and a serious dose of surrender, as things here move on Bali time and in the Bali way.
After driving around the island on a scooter without a local driving license, blissfully unaware of the need for this, I finally figured out (after being fined!) that I needed to get one. I paid a local person to help me with this process. He agreed to take me to the Police Station at 8am when there would be no queues. Unfortunately, he arrived on Bali time… at 9am.
Visualize this – you are in a small room with a very low ceiling, no opening windows, crammed with 100 people, no defined queues or orderliness, and no air conditioning, just a slow spinning ceiling fan making a repetitive whooshing noise overhead. It is already 30 degrees with 85% humidity. Everyone is talking loudly in a foreign language you don’t understand, including an official voice booming over a speaker. The man helping you has disappeared, along with your money. For 45 minutes you stand there completely lost in a crowd of chaos. You have no idea what is happening or what to do next. Questions mount. Confusion reigns. Sweat is pouring off you. You didn’t eat breakfast and now feel like you may faint and become best friends with the shiny linoleum floor below. You are pretty sure no one in this room will even notice you have fainted.
That was exactly the situation I found myself in. I was peaceful at first, but as 45 minutes turned into 2 hours, with flies buzzing around and people pushing past, the volcano inside of me was nearing eruption.
When triggered, there is a pivotal moment when you have to make a choice. You choose either:
a) Painful reaction – you erupt and cause pain for yourself and anyone within firing distance of your energy; OR
b) Peaceful response – you see the situation for what it really is and behave with love… and thus experience peace as a result.
Here’s the deal… if we let pain, ego and unconsciousness dictate our way of being, then we play a small game in life. We hide our light, succumb to circumstance, and we let triggers define the quality of our experience. Anytime we fight against what “is”, we create our own pain. Having a tantrum, erupting, and playing the victim diminishes who we are and gives our power away.
Aaron (my husband), standing beside me in equal discomfort, could sense that I was about to send lava and rocks hurtling outward and said to me, “This is the perfect opportunity to practice presence B”.
And so standing there in the midst of chaos, I closed my eyes and started diaphragmatic deep breathing (“belly breathing” from the diaphragm as it expands and contracts) and applied a strategy that you might also find useful next time you are triggered…
The Peace Over Pain Strategy
If you want to live a life of inner peace, you don’t have to be a Zen master! You need to realize that:
- The ability to experience inner peace has NOTHING to do with what is going on in your life right now; and
- Circumstance NEVER dictates who you are (Tweet-worthy!)
You can be at peace in the face of anything. You may not be happy in the face of immense triggers and challenges, but you can still be at peace. It’s a daily practise, in the face of every coming trigger, to exercise your peace muscle!
The next time you find yourself triggered, give this Peace Over Pain Strategy a go:
- Close your eyes for a few moments to cut off visual stimulation and center your focus inwards
- Breathe deeply 5 times from your diaphragm
- Notice what you can’t control about the situation, and acknowledge the insanity of resisting it
- Notice what you can control about the situation, and take whatever immediate empowered actions are available to shift yourself forward
- Recognize the situation for what it really is, which in most cases is NOT the end of the world!
- Realize that tomorrow, next week, next month… you will likely look back on this as completely insignificant in the bigger picture of your life
- Allow the situation to unfold and trust that if you choose peaceful response in the midst of it, you are flowing with the natural current of your life, not against it, and that means you will exit the situation much faster and more peacefully
- Remember that life offers up assignments for you to practice what you most need to learn, therefore all such challenges are free tuition – gifts for growth on your unique Path
After applying my strategy, I opened my eyes and stood there to see all the chaos around me from a new perspective. It was all still the same, but I could interpret it now with new eyes. It was all just life playing out in its magical, crazy, colourful way, in this chaotic and noisy Balinese police station. It was a fleeting moment in my life, to practice peaceful response.
- What situations trigger you the most?
- Can you see where in your life it is your interpretation causing you pain, not the actual circumstance itself?
- What strategy do you employ to help you evolve through those situations?
Bernadette is an Author, Transformational Coach & Retreat Leader, supporting clients worldwide to unleash their inner peace, freedom and success, personally and professionally. She empowers you via her exclusive 3-Step Unleash Your Life © methodology – to… See the Truth, Clear the Fog, Create & Blossom. Based on 15 years corporate business experience including Peak Performance Coaching, combined with her own radical, trail-blazing life changes guided by spiritual wisdom, she is a woman on a mission to support others to set themselves free.Visit Bernadette’s website here, find her on Facebook here, and follow her on Twitter here.