Triggered by the Past

Often we have an over reaction to something in our current reality, based on a trauma or bad experience from our past. It can be bewildering and stressful. Or perhaps we can use the experience to identify what needs to be released.

June 27, 2023
Show/Hide Transcript

Hey everyone. Welcome to the Self-Awareness Journey podcast. I'm Melissa Elbers. And I'm JJ Parker. This podcast is for seekers of happiness, joy, and a centered approach to success in life. Seekers of their true, authentic selves. Get ready for some real talk on everything from anxiety, emotions, and habits.

To love, compassion, and forgiveness. We know you'll be challenged and enlightened by this conversation, and we're so glad you're here. Let's dive in.

So I sitting at work yesterday and I get a text out of the blue from my ex-business partner

Oh dear. I always feel like there's a good story whenever that name is popping up.

Uh, well, yeah, so he sends me a picture of, so one of our have during our, I don't know, like the height of our disagreeing about how we're, you know, like running the company and such,

height of your discontent.

right. Uh, one of our employees like photoshopped, this image of. Love like me and him like fighting, like pulling each other's hair.

They like photoshopped our face on like these two people, like pulling each other's hair and like yeah, like fighting, like brats or something. Um, and I have, I, I mean, I have no idea why he sent it to me. I was like so random and so weird and, um, but it really threw me off for the rest of the day.

did it?

Yeah, like I, I didn't expect, you know, it, it was like I was happily going along my day and then like, boom, here's this text from the past with like an image that really, like, which I, I really remember like being upset by,


um, and, and so it, it really like, it really knocked me off for the day.

Hmm. Well, yeah. What, well then what happened after that? Like, did you get any context about why that was sent or just

Oh no, he just said he was like going through old photos cuz one of his kids is graduating, so he's like putting together like the graduation photo board or whatever, and he found that one and now he decided to send that to me.

Oh, man. How,

So I stewed on it the whole day. Like I didn't text him back, I didn't do anything.

I just kind of was like, I don't know what to do with this.

oh. What? What came up for you? What you said triggered what? What came up for you?

yeah, it was, it was mostly that, like during that time it's like, you know, we were kind of fighting, right? So it was an accurate picture. but like, I didn't really wanna

had, you've never had long hair.

yeah, right. Um, but I didn't really want to be fighting. And I, and like, I didn't like that. Yeah. I didn't like the team was sort of like poking fun at the whole thing.

Um, and it just, I felt like really trapped. So,


I, you know, so that like image sort of crystallized how like a, like a not real great time in my life. Um,

What feelings came up for

repress it.

Well, what feelings came up for you specifically, do you think? Could you identify 'em or not really? You just felt uncomfortable? Were you embarrassed? Were you mad? Were you

I wasn't mad. It is more like embarrassed, like I, I just kinda felt like embarrassed that like our. Little partnership spat, like, it was like poor leadership to me. The reason I think I was embarrassed is cuz it was like poor leadership, right? Like, like, I don't know what else I could have done.

Really. Maybe, maybe if I was like, fast forward to today, I would've handled it a bit different. But, um,


just like, like I am, you know, this feud between me and my business partner is affecting the business and the team so, Um, and that's really, that was really the thing that I felt like kind of the most shame about

Hmm. Oh, that's a strong word, you know? Yeah. I was just thinking about it. It's like, how many times are we triggered by something that's happened in the past and. I think that even though we try our best to move past things, I think there's always unresolved things or, you know, for, for, unless we're really intentional, there's always gonna be a little leftover dirt in the corner somewhere, you know?

Oh, yeah, that's a good way to put it, because I, you know, I'm kind of like over the whole thing. It's not like a thing I really ever think about or,

Yeah. Until it gets thrown in your,

I think you're just like, yeah, yeah. You get that. You're, you're just like, you're saying like, you're right. You're like, oh, there is a little, there are still cobwebs around here.

Yeah, and I don't think that that's a bad thing, but I think we naturally judge ourselves for, but how often do you think that happens? Like that was a huge, huge, huge example for you. But I think everybody has, like in my coaching, I, I have these conversations all the time. There's just a lot of stuff that will pop up from our past and I feel like.

It's almost funny, like the more you are self-aware and working on yourself actively, um, when something like that happens, I feel like it's almost more triggering sometimes because you immediately go back to those old feelings that you had and you feel way worse for a moment,


because it's such a bad feeling compared to how you naturally feel now having worked on yourself.

mm-hmm. Yeah. It was like for a little bit, you know, for maybe like an hour or something. It was like a time machine. Like I went back in time for like a little while


and then I realized like, okay, let's snap out of that and let's. Let's get back to like right now.

that's hard though. I, and I mean, it's a, it's awesome that you notice it because what if you hadn't, a lot of people wouldn't notice. They would just get that sucker gut, it's like a gut punch.


You know, um, I, I was talking with one of my clients yesterday and she was talking about how there's always a desire, um, to kind of beat herself up in order to prove to herself that she's worthy of the results that she's getting.


And, um, and I think that this also goes back to these past. Triggers and these past traumas where something in our system taught us a certain way, like we were a certain way. And then through experiences we morph and change, but we get stuck in these ideas of ourselves, like we see ourselves in a certain way.

And when that image isn't validated, um, or you know, if, if we see ourselves a certain way and then if it doesn't come to fruition or. It's not as good as we thought it should be, then nobody's a more awful critic than self. And then it sits there, right? So then every single time a situation in your future or something happens, or in your, in your today present, something happens that feels slightly like the feeling back then it can be hugely triggering.


I've just seen that so much.

yeah, there's something really, really interesting in that, in that idea is like, uh, when I sort of felt transported back in time to like kinda how I felt and how maybe my, my thinking models back then, they kinda came back pretty quick. Once I, once I saw that image and kind of got transported back, um, it's.

It is oddly comforting to think and feel some of those old patterns, even though they're not healthy.


Like, I was really surprised. I'm like, I, I kind of like got transported back. I'm like, oh yeah, this is what it was like back then. And I, I kind of felt like, almost like I was like comfortable with it,

Yeah, like reminiscing on a

that I like missed it, but I was like, oh yeah, I remember, you know, wearing this pair of pants, right?

Like that's what this felt like.


It was really interesting going through that cuz um, and I did have a bit, a bit of texting conversation with him after he sent that and I told

in the day.

Later in the day, I told him I was triggered by

Oh, you did?

was, yeah.


And uh, you know, he was like, oh, I'm, he's like, oh, I'm so sorry.

I didn't realize that that was like, like, uh, you know, a sore spot. And I was like, well, yeah. It was just like, it also reminded me just how sometimes oblivious and weird he is. It's all good though, but it's not, I I was like, my response was like, you know, like, don't be sorry, I, it is actually like okay. To be reminded of the

I think it's actually very helpful to be reminded of the

yeah. So I was like, like, don't, don't be sorry about that. It, it is good. It, it was good to be reminded and, and like, I didn't mind it at all, even though it did, you know, kind of knock me off kilter for a little bit. Um, so I, there is some good of. Going back, I guess, and, and kind of remembering what that time was like.

Well, I think it's all in how you process that. And because, because you just said it was fine and you were, it wasn't fine. It was very upsetting for you until you processed it,


you know?

Yeah. So if I wouldn't have, if I wouldn't have really sat, sat with it and thought about it for a while, it, it probably would've wrecked more than my day.

right. Yeah. But I think, don't you think that that's the huge lesson in all of this stuff?

It's like when something happens in our past that is, Hugely defining


these defining moments in our lives that alter the course of either who we are or how we think, or how we have relationships. Um, you know, there's, there's pain involved with that


and people don't like pain. No one wants pain in personal growth.

You see it all the time. People just want that feel good, fake it till you make it. Uh, you know that that's what it's all about. But the truth of the matter is, is that real personal growth and deep spiritual emotional growth happens when something is painful.


um, and I think, so like the reflection piece of that is so interesting.

And I think too, it's a little P T S D when it hits you when you aren't ex like outta left field that wasn't within your, it wasn't you going through your memory box that wasn't you looking for pictures and, and then all of a sudden it just kind so you had no awareness that that was coming. So there's a shock value to that too, which I think is some of that P T S D stuff.


Because it reminds you of that pain. And then when you, when you internalize that a little further and really think through, um, not just the pain part, but also the subsequent changes that happened after that,


that's where the huge gift is.

mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. For me, the. Um, yeah, you're right. The PTs d and the timing, it's always funny, the timing. It's like I was like literally in just like a regular meeting with my current leadership team all gets along super well, and I'm like, like, dang. I looked down, I'm like, oh, you gotta make it. Like, I didn't even look at the text.

They didn't even open it for like, uh, like two hours.

Oh, you just saw the name and that was that.

I saw the name and then I just like left. Th this is, you know, again, I don't wanna be like super dramatic about it, but like that's as, that's how much it affects me, you know? Like I, I saw it, I just like, I can't even open this like now. And then, and then a few hours later I opened it and then it was like that weird picture and I'm like, and then that was, you know, That was it.

But, um, you're right,

know what?

it was not me going to explore it, was it, it came out of, of left field, so it, it had like a little bit of extra like shock and awe value just in that way.

Yeah, I, I think, um, you know, to me, like putting on my coaching hat though, you're not asking me to, or probably maybe even wanting me

This whole, this whole podcast is just you giving me free coaching advice. He didn't realize that this is the way I duped you into free professional coaching for myself.

I, um, I feel like the amount of gut punch that you experience, that you experience with this situation every time is an indicator of, um, what I would say is almost fear and it's fear of, um, Fear that he can do damage. Fear that this situation can hurt me. Like because it did for so long and it affected all parts of your life.

It wasn't just, it wasn't just your business, it was your personal friendship cuz you had guys had been kid best friends and um, I mean, no wonder, no wonder you have these, this trigger because it, it does conjure up that instantaneous like, oh, I recognize this feeling and I'm scared my, I'm gonna be, there's gonna be consequences.

There's gonna be huge consequences to this interaction because there usually was,


you know, Whether it be a blowout or whether it be a financial problem or whether it be employees getting disgruntled or, you know, whatever. It just, and um, like wouldn't it be cool if, if you could just recognize that that's what that is and that, to reframe it in a more timely fashion to say, Oh, this is this, this is why I have this strong reaction.

And there's nothing here that would,


that would leave any mark like it used to.

a hundred percent. You're right, it is that, that initial is a fear reaction. Like, like I was definitely just scared to open the, the text cause I'm like, I don't know who knows what's in this.

exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And what are the consequences of this? I mean,

So you're, you're absolutely right. But I like the idea of trying to reframe that and so,


to, to round out the story. Then I did, I did text him back cause I was like, it's rude to not text him back. Cause I didn't want, I just want, I didn't wanna be rude, but I did let that thing sit there all day long. Texted him last night, um, just like something back. And then he and I had like a very pretty pleasant conversation back and forth for like a half hour. Um, And I, yeah. And so it, it actually turned out much better than, you know, I thought at noon when I, when I had that, that gut punch, like you said, to nine o'clock at night when I actually did have a conversation.

Like it turned out, it turned out to be a good conversation, so.

And, and, um, well, which is awesome, right? Because you just, you, you decided you were gonna go in anyway. You were like, this makes me uncomfortable. I'm going in anyway.


So that's really cool cuz that's showing your, that's courageous. That's being courageous in your fear. I mean, it's just, I and it sounds, I I know, I, I, I don't mean to sound like Freud.

I, I always, I always don't

totally on the couch.

I just don't, I don't like, don't you remember when we used to have those two couches at the, at the coworking space and whenever we were trying to sort things out, we would both flop on a couch and look at the ceiling.


Let's solve all this is definitely a two orange couch day.

That's what we should call it. Weren't they orange? I think they were

That might have been orange. Yeah.

Or black. Maybe they're black. Well, anyway, it doesn't matter. I don't know. I, I just think this is such a good conversation though, because I think that we all have these big experiences that have created huge growth in us and that they only came through being very painful.

Like I always say, you can't experience great joy unless you've experienced equal and opposite great pain. You can only experience the height of joy to the amount of pain that you've had. That's it, because you have nothing to compare it to otherwise. And in these situations, they leave these really deep marks for us and, um, and we grow from 'em and we, and we decide to be different.

And we, you know, create different relationships and we create different thinking patterns and decide different things for ourselves. And yet, if we're reminded of that, you know, if we're reminded of that, it's like, No one wants to be reminded of that.

Yeah. Yeah. It reminds me a little bit of like, you know, we've talked about like childhood trauma.


and that one seems like kind of like a very like accessible thing for people. Like they kind of get like growing ups hard. You kind of have some, like growing up trauma, um, whether it was like parents or school or whatever.

Um, and then you kind of carry that into adulthood. Well, that same adult, that same pattern happens when you're an adult and keeps carrying forward. And it's sometimes easy to like not really recognize that. Your like adult trauma is like carrying forward with you too.

I have a huge example of that? I have a real life example of that. When I was little, um, there were times in my life my mom was a single parent. There were times in my life when we actually had like food insecurity. We had no money. Um, It was just she and I, I was an only child and the, it was very, very topsy-turvy.

There was no real consistency for a really long time. And, um, and. As an only child, it makes no sense that whenever I'm cooking for my family or one extra person comes, I literally make enough food as though I am an old fashioned cook in a logging camp. Like it's a big joke in my family, literally. It's a huge joke in my family and we've always kind of had a little fun with it.

Well, everybody has fun with it at my expense, however, This is super crazy. Last week my daughter was, cuz she's amazing with food prep and grocery shopping. Like she plans her meals and goes every week, decides what she needs at the grocery store and only buys what she needs. And I was like, wow, that is so messed up, Megan.


Anyway, she said, I realize that I have this weird pattern that I don't think that there will be enough. And I don't know where I got that pattern. That's what she said. And I went, Oh, that was me.


That was me. So now as an adult, I don't buy one jug of peanut butter. I buy two. I don't buy, um, one thing of chicken.

I'll buy four kinds of chicken so that I have them in the freezer. And that is a carryover,


exact thing.


a chi, it's a childhood trauma that I was not even really aware. I. As an adult, I was behaving in a way to support that trauma.


Isn't that interesting? Both of us had like this. Wow. We both were like, wow.

That's, I mean, and it's a deep subject and it, it could be, um, you know, it could be awful to talk about it, but I don't, I don't see it as awful. Like I see this as, this like, huge opportunity to recognize something. In, in a pattern that I never even would've thought of had she not said, I don't know where I get this.


I was like, oh, that was me. Sorry.

it's pretty amazing how how many generations some of that stuff can carry forward.


And there's this, is there you and that this is your example of kind of breaking the cycle, like recognizing it.


And then being able to probably break that cycle

Yeah. Yeah. And that's also explains why I am always very interested in like, uh, even like second, oh God, you know, I can never remember the name of the

sec, second harvest, heartland, that

Thank you. Yes, yes, yes. Because

the food shelf stuff. We'll just say it's simpler.

yeah, the well, one in six Minnesotans have food insecurity right now. In our state, one in six.

And, and to think about it like that, it's like, wow. So yeah. So that would be a reason why I, and I, you know what? Honestly, JJ never even noticed. That's why I never noticed it, never

why you volunteer for all those organizations.

Feed my starving children. Yeah. It's all, it's all part of that. It just feels really good to do something on a grander scale, but not really realizing how, how deeply tied I was because of some childhood trauma.

Yeah. Yep.

So yes, they go very, very deep. And so that's why I think it's such a gift when you can recognize something like this. It's such a gift. It's not a bad thing, it's not a judgment. It's like, wow, how amazing. Because now you can choose what to do with it and you can clear yourself of that.

Yep. I like what you said, like reframe it. You can, you can start reframing things and, and then they don't become so scary.

Yeah. Yeah, because some of this stuff is scary. If you look at it just from the pain perspective and what it was, you know, at that time in your life, it was scary and it was stressful and it was very painful, but it isn't now.

Yep. Wow. What a good coaching session, Melissa. Thank you.

I feel like I coached myself too.

Oh, well it's interesting for people to recognize when they are triggered by the past. You know, like just bringing this home, I would say for listeners, um, There that suck, that sucker gut punch is the greatest indicator of something is triggering you. And it is usually from your past and it usually is fear related in some sort.


And if you can just sit right with that instead of run from it like lots of us do, cuz we just don't wanna deal. Um, if you can just sit with it for a little bit and ask yourself some questions. Gosh, it's just amazing how quickly you can make it just dissipate and move on.

Did you enjoy this episode? Please go to your favorite podcast platform to subscribe, rate and leave a review so others can discover it as well. Growing self-awareness is a lifelong journey, and it's better when we're all in it together. Please think of someone you know who could benefit from hearing today's conversation.

And share this episode with them. We can't thank you enough for listening. Until next time, happy exploring.

Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

Learn more about the topics in this episode

The Art of
Self Awareness Course

Have you ever wished that you could be happier inside more of the time? Does your productivity take a hit when your mood dips? Do you wish you would just do better but don’t know how?

If you answered YES to any or all of these questions, this course is for YOU.

Join The Self Awareness Journey to learn how feelings, when explored, inform us of our thoughts which ultimately cause our actions. When things don’t go as planned we often blame outside circumstances, people or timing. But most of us are unaware of our core feelings so we are never quite able to manifest our true desires.

Intrigued but want to know a little more?

Drop your contact information below and we'll keep you updated with our latest tips for increased self-awareness.