The triggers of our emotional pain A Zen perspective
In a non-specific order, here is a very short list of our painful triggers.
The most powerful are stress, regrets, anger, guilt, grieving, shame, anxiety (fear, worries), sadness, desire, (craving), hatred, hopelessness, illusion and chronic fatigue.
Maybe less dramatic are: frustration, loneliness, boredom, impatience and jealousy. …And so on.
How often do we feel them on regular basis?
Probably all the time, at various degrees and frequency.
In fact, according to the Buddhist philosophy the 3 main causes of suffering are desire, hatred and ignorance better called illusion of Reality.
I call them triggers because they initiate our emotional turmoil but do not feed it.
They are not the ones which fuel and enhance the duration and severity of this pain.
” The trigger does not kill, only the person pulling it does” says the N.R.A. This very smart quote can also be applied to the genesis of our painful emotional roller coaster.
Most of our emotional triggers causing pain are external but for 100% of them the resulting pain is mind-made generated.
How we perceive and react to x, y, z, are the oil or the water that we pour on the fire.
How to deal when facing a trigger?
The goal is to control duration, intensity and frequency of these painful episodes since triggers will always be there that we like it or not until our physical death.
The common attitude is to resist and to fight against our struggles in order to overcome, fix or eliminate them.
Our reflex behavior is automatic because generated by our pre-conscious ego which always lays the role of a fighter and defender.
The energy that we are generating to resist and fight against our struggles can be phenomenal and only adds more fuel to our suffering, making life more miserable.
Is it possible to transform this suffering into healing?
Mindfulness is paying attention / being aware to our experience moment to moment, w/o analysis, w/o judgment and w/o decision making. It offers an effective antidote to suffering.
By focusing in a mindful way on your current struggle and its origin you will learn, progressively, to accept it rather than to resist against it.
By doing so, we create habituation and tolerance rather than ongoing battle and misery.
It is important to stress the fact that acceptance of suffering does not mean to surrender or to be weak. It does not mean either to be masochistic. The point is not to enjoy pain but to control it.
Control of any negative event cannot be achieved w/o acceptance unless one can fix immediately and efficiently the trigger……which is very rare.
Accepting is saying: “ Okay I am angry.” No question, no fight just acceptance and self-compassion.
It is OK to fight for something which is legitimate and that you may win but fighting continuously against our negative feelings is totally counter productive and, in fact, pretty detrimental.
It is like “squeezing a burning coal sitting in your hand” as the Buddha used to repeat.
These is also this advice given by our little dog:
“ Dad, you will never control your tail while spinning after it. Do the same with your emotions.”