Trigger Surfing

TRIGGER SURFING

Trigger Surfing uses our scientific knowledge of the nervous system and emotional processing to conceptualize a valuable visual depiction and a step-by-step process to ride through triggers, emotional overwhelm, and urges associated with habits and even severe addiction patterns, for both process and substance addictions.

so simple, yet so effective

Trigger Surfing (also known as Trigger Surfing) is a powerful mindfulness tool. With this practice you'll learn how and why we need to work with our nervous system and emotional experiences instead of trying to work against them. Trigger Surfing can become a power-tool in your emotional health toolbox.

requires practice

At first, it is important to practice Trigger Surfing daily. Try it when you feel calm, and certainly try it during more subtle states, such as during a twinge of anxiety, urge to overeat, or a slight craving for an addiction. Every urge and anxious feeling is an opportunity to practice Trigger Surfing.

neuroplasticity

Practice builds neuroplasticity - think of this as going to the gym to build muscle so you can work into heavy-lifting in due time. The more you practice building your 'calming-muscles' the more capable you are of the heavy-lifting required for big triggers and overwhelming states. 

"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."

John Kabat Zinn

Trigger Surfing

 

1

TRIGGER

(URGE or SURGE of emotion)

An event has occurred, either external or internal, that has resulted in feeling a level of activation, an emotion, bodily sensation, anxious feeling, craving, looping thought, regret, fear, or belief. Remember your emotions are REAL, but they are not necessarily based on facts.

  1. breathe deeply

  2. locate & LABEL emotions

  3. FEEL WAVE OF EMOTIONS in your body

2

RAMP UP

The surge of emotion or urge is ramping up and increasing in activation. This fight-or-flight response results in cortisol and adrenaline levels increasing, more rapid heartbeat, thought quickening, and many other physiological effects.

  1. CONTINUE TO breathe deeply

  2. 'LEAN IN' TO FEEL EMOTIONS' intenSITIES
  3. USE PREFERRED grounding exercises

3

PEAK

For beginner Surfers, the Peak may hit hard. It may feel like a smack of 'shut-down,' intense pressure (as if an elephant is sitting on your chest), impending doom, heartbreak, emptiness, disassociation, frozen, 'caged-in,' powerlessness, and even fogginess. 

 

With experience, you will learn to allow the ebb and flow of painful emotions, and the Peak will begin to feel smooth and perhaps slightly euphoric for about 90 seconds. Enjoying the ride lets your nervous system know that all is well and safe, and thus, it calms. With this, you will soon feel grounded, safe and empowered as deactivation naturally unfolds.

  1. allow for ebb & flow

  2. accept the 'powerless' feeling

  3. allow for sense of 'lifting'

4

FALL

Like a wave, the urge will fall if you allow it to be. As your nervous system deactivates (see diagram below) you may feel quivering and stinging 'thawing' as adrenaline levels decrease, heightened sense, and a reintegration with reality.

  1. allow quivering & thawing

  2. accept array of 'deactivating' emotions

  3. practice emotional health skills

  4. realize reality

NOTE: YOU MAY BE PROCESSING OLD REPRESSED EMOTIONS WHICH IS HEALING

 

Along for the ride, with deactivation and reintegration, come emotions that allow you to 'let go.' The main emotion responsible for letting go is sadness - whether you like it or not (see Emotional Health page).

 

This isn't the same way you think of "sad" as in hopeless, loss, or disappointment. It is a a subtle, yet clear sense of tugging sadness. Allow it to be. You may even cry which is a good sign. If you attempt to disown your sadness during deactivation, you'll likely find yourself in another wave of urge and emotional overwhelm. And may get 'stuck' in FREEZE mode for an extended amount of time - days, weeks, or even months (depression).

NERVOUS SYSTEM WAVE

Trigger Surfing may seem like a silly mindfulness practice for kids. However, when you understand the science behind it, you will see it for the mature, scientifically-proven, empowering practice that it is. Notice how our nervous system activation and deactivation does in fact have a wave effect.

 

anxiety and addiction patterns

The way in which our nervous system is activated is due to our programming. Our previous experiences, stressful situations and perceived threats become part of this programming. In fact, memories are stored at level of emotional activation.

For example, an anxiety attack is a painful experience, and thus, anxiety in of itself becomes a perceived threat - that triggers more anxiety. 

 

If you have been struggling with an addiction, then repeated painful emotions of disappointment, failure, and shame are associated, and thus the mere thought of the addictive substance or process becomes stored as a perceived threat in your brain. The addiction is no longer just a reward, it also triggers a THREAT-RESPONSE in your nervous system

no access to rationale

To make things WORSE, when you're triggered, it's like your executive functioning (human intelligence) is in the trunk of your car, while your fear (lizard brain) is in the driver's seat. Imagine a gremlin driving your car. 

Surfing  TO rationale

Next time you feel a twinge of anxiety, or a subtle urge for a bad habit, the goal is NOT to avoid, cope, or try to force yourself to stop the anxiety or behavior (all of which trigger more activation) - the #1 goal is to regain access to your higher cortex and executive functioning. Otherwise, you are doomed to crash - and repeat bad habits and addictions.

Trigger Surfing, overall, is an empowering practice to ride the wave of nervous system activation and deactivation.  Once CALM and centered, you are equipped to make rational choices in alignment with your values and highest good.

ADDITIONAL PRACTICES

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conscious

anxiety

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process

emotions

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conscious

complaining

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EMOTIONAL

HEALTH

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moving with barriers

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UNPACKING

SHAME

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SELF-

COMPASSION

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SELF-

LEADERSHIP

 

If you are experiencing a crisis or an emergency dial 911 or Crisis Response at 602.222.9444

© 2020 Copyright Creating Your Balance LLC

Creating Your Balance LLC and information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.  It is not intended to substitute for the advice, treatment and/or diagnosis of a qualified licensed professional. Creating Your Balance LLC and information provided may not make any medical diagnoses, claims and/or substitute for your personal physician’s care.