To stop reacting from the past you need to let go of old hurts and realise that the actions today are not related to the past. The person with you today is not the person from the past. They do not think, react or explode like the person in the past. Any similarities are there as triggers to help you release your past residue. They may have some similar traits, but it is not the same.
In the past when you were hurt so deeply it was because you were a child and felt helpless to control or shift what was occurring. You couldn’t escape the pain unfolding in your childhood home. You couldn’t leave. You couldn’t heal the adults or talk them into a better feeling state. No matter what you did to make life better – being quiet, cleaning up, being funny or cute or getting good grades. No matter what you tried you couldn’t shift what was going on inside the adults involved. It was up to them to heal themselves, to take responsibility for what was occurring and to do something about it.
Likewise, if you are still expecting the worst, reacting to your partner or others as if they are that past person, then it is your responsibility to shift the feelings and patterns inside yourself.
Your partner is allowed to behave the way that he or she does. They are allowed to have their ups and downs, their challenges and time required to find a way through them. They are allowed to be human and imperfect. They are allowed to be who they are with their quirks, habits and abilities – good and bad.
As long as they are not abusing you or being mean to you, you have no reason to truly be upset with them. It is not their fault that you fear the worst. It is not their fault you expect World War III whenever they get a little upset. It’s not their fault if you misinterpret their reactions and feel unloved, ignored or left behind. It is not their fault what is going on inside you. That is your area of control and responsibility.
Let the person off the hook. They haven’t done anything wrong. They are just being themselves and you are triggered by some of their behaviour. The trigger is in you and it is occurring to help you see there is some wounding in you that needs to be seen, felt and released.
So thank the person for showing you your route to freedom – they have shown you where you need to focus your healing energy, so that you don’t automatically react with fear around them or others, so you don’t live on egg shells waiting for the walls to crumble, so you don’t live tensely waiting for the moment to run and hide.
That high level of preparedness, of reactivity, is bad for your health. It not only impacts your ability to enjoy life. It impacts your immune system and digestion, and many other bodily functions. Instead of being in rest and digest mode (parasympathetic nervous system), you are in fight, flight or freeze (sympathetic nervous system) with adrenaline and cortisol pumping through your body. Blood is diverted from your organs and into your periphery, your muscles so that you can react instantly.
You need to calm your body down. You need to come out of hyper-alertness, hypervigilance and relax. Easier said than done! There is an alarm going off in your head shouting “Danger, war. React”. But really there is no danger, no war. No need for overreaction.
The work that needs to occur is inside you. It is not your partner’s responsibility to fix what is inside you or to not trigger you. If the pain is inside you then you will get triggered. Even if they altered their behaviour you will get triggered by something else because the pain is inside you.
Leaving, being on your own, isolating doesn’t resolve the pain. It just avoids it, delays its resolution. So it is best to stay and face it, unless the relationship truly is toxic and abusive, then you should leave for your sake and your children’s. But if there is love, if there is tenderness, closeness, compassion – some of the time – then the relationship is a beneficial one.
It will never be perfect, no relationship is. Each person is here to evolve and grow, so they will have times of feeling stretched, triggered, lost and despairing.
It is the path to freedom – to feel these things and move through them. That’s the challenge to move through it so you’re not constantly reacting the same way to the same thing.
When triggered remind yourself this is not the past, this is not the same, this is not my parent or whoever it was who did abuse you in the past. Remind yourself I’m not a little child anymore. I do have power. I do have choice and I choose to support myself through this reaction. I recognise this is my stuff. It’s not about the current person and his actions and reactions. He/she is okay and probably doing the best they can right now, same as me. I’m going to honour us both.
I’m going to sit and breathe and let these feelings flow out of me. I’m going to do whatever I need to, in order to honour myself and my body and balance back up. I’m not going to beat myself up for reacting.
I’m going to speak softly and soothingly to the younger part of me who is hurting and hug them, hold them, comfort them, help them to let go of the past pain and see that it’s okay now. It’s safe to relax and have fun. I’m going to invite that younger part of me to rest in my arms, or a garden, or a fun place in my heart; to see that they are cared for and loved, and safe and protected. That’s my job as the adult that I now am. I need to look after me, so that I do feel safe and can let go of the past.
What happened in the past is not occurring now, but it feels like it is as the trauma is still present in my body. I have to help my body let it go and I do that by being kind and gentle with myself, and my partner or whoever it is that has triggered me.
I am the one who got triggered. Therefore it is me who needs to do something to feel better. It is not about them changing. It is about you altering your inner reactions so you do not trigger so easily. So stop blaming, judging or condemning the other person, and focus on healing your inner world.
Do what is needed to soothe your body – spend time in nature, have a bath or foot soak, have a massage or other form of body work, rest, draw or write to shift the energy out, relax, rest, meditate, listen to soothing music, smell relaxing smells – essential oils, incense, cooking. Do whatever you need to do to look after you.
And know that each time it happens you are letting go of the old so you can be present to the now, to be here now, not dragging along the past in your back pack or body. In this sense it is good that you got triggered, so you can clear out more of the past stuck within you.
You may resent the fact it is still occurring, but the truth is it needs to occur to help you heal, to give you the opportunity to honour yourself. And the more pain you went through, the more there is to be released. It just is what it is.
Don’t fight against it. Don’t resent it or the other person – that just prolongs it. Do what you need to do to find peace. That is the most useful thing to do. There are many tools and techniques you can use to release stress and trauma out of your body, but listening to and honouring your body and its’ reactions is a very, very good start and it is free. There is no need to see a practitioner, unless you want to or feel that you need help to build the skills to self soothe.
Whatever you do, choose peace and kindness for yourself and the others involved. Each is doing the best they know how with their current mindset and feelings. Each is serving the other with what gets triggered and each can help the other as they move through their releases by just being there and accepting the process.
No one needs to be rescued. Just seen, loved and accepted as they are. Give each other that gift and in time you will blossom.
This is just residue releasing so that you can be more present to enjoy the now together or apart. It matters not. Free the space within you, so love can fill up the space previously occupied by hurt, loss, disappointment or grief. Let it go and let love fill the space. You can you know. It is worth the time and effort to do it, so you can enjoy life more. Blessed BE. Amen.
By Jodi-Anne (24 February 2019).
- Further free guidance on healing techniques and self love are available on the Life Insights and Healing from child abuse pages of this website.
- If you found this blog useful you may wish to consider purchasing a copy of Jodi-Anne’s book ‘Advice from a higher Source’ which contains 85 more answers to questions about life. The paperback book or ebook can be purchased online at – http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/JMS2011. (Once you have clicked into view the description of the book, go to the top of the page and choose the flag symbol for your country, this will show you the price in your currency and enable you to purchase it in that currency)
One thought on “How do I stop reacting from the past?”
Great post 😁