I love how certain months, seasons and holidays can bring memories and sweet nostalgia to my mind and heart. The months of June, August, September and December, are full of lifelong cherished memories with loved ones and new adventures that changed my outlook on life. These experiences shifted my thinking into new arenas. I remember these moments with a heart of gratitude and I welcome these times of the year with open arms and anticipation of comfort and joy.
Am I able to welcome the times of year, seasons, and even holidays that trigger memories of sorrow, loss, grief and trauma? That question has been on my mind this month. There are times when my soul embraces a season that has challenged me in the past, and the emotions connected to the experience are triggered by the physical time of year. I may not even realize why I am suddenly sad or anxious, until I stop and observe the trigger and the timing of the experience of origin. This is very common in the loss of a loved one. Each anniversary is a challenge with the triggers losing power as the healing process takes place. But how do I handle the common trigger points in daily life that threaten me or cause fear, sadness or anxiety?
I have learned to identify the five common areas that threats and triggers target. They are status, certainty (future- what is going to happen), our autonomy (sense of purpose), relatedness (my relationships, trust, bonding) , and fairness(justice). It has helped me to first identify which area is being triggered and realize the emotional side of my brain acts faster than my rational thought. I then ask myself questions to reframe my thinking to move away from the trigger and threat mode and closer to the opportunity mode. In Positive Psychology we call this the SCARF Model. Rock 2008. It is a simple tool, one I can use in my family life, work life and social life. I have been using the SCARF model this month as my triggers have been higher on the side of loss. I am creating an awareness to enable my rational thought process to move my threat mode to opportunity mode. I have new paths opening up. I realize it takes practice. It is process that requires patience with myself and allows the sadness, but not the lingering of threat that steals my joy, peace and zest for living. Because, right around the corner may be a surprise, a gift, a new river of life!
For I am about to do something new. Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19