13 January 2014


What do Roy Rogers and I have in common??
We both have triggers!!!
Last week I wrote about the word "surrender" as my word for the year, the word that I will use to guide me this year.  This has been a good one for me.  This week I've really thought about surrendering things over to God and I have, and already I am feeling a lot lighter.  And that has really raised a lot of questions - or should I say, it's given me a lot to think about regarding emotions, and how much I react emotionally to so much around me.  Are you emotionally sensitive?  I most definitely am.  So I thought today I would write about emotional triggers as I'm learning all about them and trying to figure out how to deal with them in my life to reduce some of my stress.  

Emotional triggers are like little switches.  A thought or an event can trigger something from our past that is tied in to an emotion we were feeling at that time, and throw us into a funk.  Or it can take us to a good place too.  My grandma's house always smelled of palmolive soap and onions.  She lived on the top floor of a duplex apartment, and when I would walk up the stairs to her apartment, the soap and onion smell would get stronger and stronger.  My grandma's house was always a place where I felt safe and comfortable.  Come to think about this now, before I married Neddy, he lived in an apartment in Glendale where there were a lot of Armenian grandmas and grandpas.  And THAT building to smelled like Palmolive soap and onions.  Maybe that had something to do with why I felt safe and comfortable with him too?  Who knows!  To this day, the smell of palmolive dish soap takes me back to that same comfortable place - no, not the apartment....Grandma's house! (which makes me think that maybe I should keep a bottle of Palmolive dish soap at my desk to take a whiff of when I'm stressing, right?)

Sometimes the emotions that cause the triggers are justified.  Let's say when you were a kid, the neighbor's dog bit you....so now, you might have a fear of dogs, or just the sound of a barking dog can set you into a panic.  That would be understandable.   Or less obvious,with all the homeless outreach we're involved in. what if seeing the homeless people on the street triggered the feeling of sadness inside you because you notice how the people that we serve have no food.  That's natural.  But taking it a step further: You go to lunch with a friend.  You have a great time, but then you notice how much food is wasted when they clear away the bread basket and the food around you.  You remember the homeless and how they don't have food and this makes you so sad.  Your mind associates eating out being sad.  So you isolate yourself from going out because of the sadness it's going to make you feel.

One really common trigger is wanting to eat when you feel sad, upset or you want to get rewarded.  I know this is one that I am dealing with even now.  I know it started when we were little kids.  When we'd celebrate getting good grades, or doing well at a recital, or completing our chores, we'd get rewarded by going out for ice cream.  Or if we were upset about something, we'd sit down with mom or dad and talk over some hot cocoa and some cookies.   Pretty soon those yummy sugary foods got associated with comfort, celebration, and making things "all better."  And this is why today, many years later, sugar is what I want when I am feeling stressed, upset, happy, sad...you name it, sugar is the answer.  

Our strengths are also our greatest emotional triggers.  We might like the fact that we're loyal, or honest, creative or funny. We react emotionally when we feel that someone is discounting what make us who we are. The thing is, is that these events in our lives that trigger these emotions usually happened years and years ago...in our childhood.  A lot has changed since then.  We've even changed. That moment is never going to happen again, but what gets left over are the little triggers in our minds that set off the same feelings that the original event set off for us way back then.  Some of these feelings might be the need to be accepted or liked, the need to be included, or to be in control (there's that control issue again!!), how about the need to be valued or to fit in, or to get attention, the need for peace, or to be understood.  

This past week of surrendering control to God has brought about all these thoughts within me.  I have been consciously trying to take a look at some of the ways I react emotionally.  Our thought reactions are just thoughts.  I've been trying to see if what I'm feeling is justified or am I going by what I felt years ago to some other event.  And then I've been trying to surrender it.

As Fr. Vazken always on Next Step, "Think about it for a moment....."  I am able to share all these feelings with God:  
Acceptance...God accepts me for who I am.  
Being understood...God understands me.  
Needing attention...When I pray, God is my captive audience.  
Control....nope, I'm not in control...I've given that up to God.  
Love...God loves me unconditionally.  
Being Liked....he even likes me (a little).  
Peacefulness...when I'm truly with God, I know peace.  

So I'm learning to anticipate the triggers.  And I'm figuring out how to deal with them:  sometimes going for a walk or doing something physical helps.  If there's someone to talk to about it, then I do...or I write about it (thanks for being here!), and most definitely I surrender it over to God.  

So that's what's been going on with me this week.  I'm feeling a lot less stressed because I'm not allowing myself to control things...or even try to control things.  God is in control.  And I'm trying to let His will be done. Not mine.  It's not easy, let me tell you...but we're working on it ...together.

What do you think.  Have you ever thought about what your triggers are? And how do they cause you to react?  Come on, share with me!  

Just wanted to share:  Just a couple nights ago, our In His Shoes group did our monthly homeless outreach at Ascencia.  We always have such a great time when we're there.  There are some beautiful miracles that are happening there especially among one family in particular so I waned to share it.  Each month that we've been there, we've been blessed to serve a family with 7 children, a mother and father.  All the members of this family, from the parents, down to the youngest child are always so polite, loving and kind.  I love to see them all sitting down together.  The children so respectful of their mother and father.  The parents, so loving toward their children.  When we were inquiring about this family over Christmas, one of the shelter managers shared with me that some good things were happening for them and that they are close to moving out of the shelter into transitional housing soon.  I was so happy to hear this news.  The case worker told me that the parents are aware, but they have not told their children so as not to get their hopes up.  So I have been praying for them.  And this past Thursday evening,  I spoke to the parents and wished them a Happy New Year.  I told them how much I appreciate their beautiful family, but that as much as I loved seeing them each month, that I hoped the new year would bring them closer to the realization of their dreams.  I also shared with them that I had been praying for them.  The parents beamed, smiled and looked at each other like they knew a big secret.  I didn't let on that I knew.  They asked me to please keep praying because "good things were definitely happening."  So I'm asking all of you if you would please join me in praying for this beautiful family. 

Tomorrow night we'll be heading out to the streets of Skid Row again.  We have an anonymous donor that is providing the soup, water and snacks for tomorrow night, and we'll be taking all the clothing that we've collected as well as socks and blankets.  If you'd like to sponsor either our Skid Row outreach or our Ascencia dinner at the shelter, please contact me at anushnoor@gmail.com

Have a pomegranate week, peeps!  Filled with hope and ripe with possibilities!


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