Coping with the Aftermath of an Emotional Trigger

Have you ever had one of those moments where something completely innocuous is the trigger for a release of emotions that you had no idea were stored in your body?

Whether it be a movie, a story you’ve over heard, or just a situation you witnessed, afterwards you find yourself feeling just a little off. You’re not sure why, but you can’t seem to put a name to how you’re feeling.

Then, suddenly, you get it. You know exactly why you felt off, and you are overcome with emotions.

This has happened to me twice in my lifetime, one in regards to a movie I saw, and the other time was because of a story that was told to me. Both situations uncovered emotions I had buried so far down, I didn’t know they existed.

In each case, my reaction was the same: almost uncontrollable bawling, coupled with an absolute release of energy with each sob. It was if each time I cried out, I could honestly feel a weight being lifted off my shoulders. Talk about a trip! Years of therapy to “get through” things, and a movie of all things is what does the trick? Somebody call my therapist! I need a refund.

When confronted with situations like this, when you are overcome with emotions, there are a few things to do to take advantage of the opportunity to heal:

First, let it all come out. Give yourself the space to grieve, to cry, to be angry, to be sad. Don’t put a timeline on it. You need to allow your body the time to recognize what it is feeling, and let it go. Typically, a trigger will cause an immediate outburst that forces you to pay attention and focus on the emotions right that minute. Honestly, that is the best-case scenario too.

The second thing you want to do when you’re focusing on all the emotions flowing, is to really embrace it. Acknowledge your emotions, and don’t try to push them away. I mean, seriously, pushing them away is most likely what caused the outburst in the first place, right? Feel your emotions. If you’re sad, be sad. If you’re angry, be angry. Just feel. Just observe. Just be.

The third thing I would suggest doing, and it may just be the most important, is to be kind to yourself. Don’t berate yourself for crying, or believing you’ve shown weakness (the complete opposite is actually true). Once you’re finished crying, don’t try to distract yourself with a project in hopes that it will help (it most likely won’t). Be with the emotional outburst. Be with the thoughts and feelings you’ve released. Be with the renewed sense of self that remains.

I can’t say that I am the biggest fan of emotional outbursts, but I am huge fan of the results. Crying makes my face splotchy, my sinuses clog up, and my eyes swell. (News flash: I’m a fugly crier.) However, when the outburst is all said and done, I spend time with my heart and my soul. I recognize the shift that happened, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be free of such pain and such a weight. It gives me a new perspective on what is going on around me, and gives me the capacity to be more understanding of those I love, and those I come into contact with.

I hope when you find yourself in such a situation, where some random thing triggers an abundance of emotions, you find the capacity to be kind to yourself. I hope you take the opportunity to heal and to be free, because I know you won’t regret it.

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