emotional stress

An Emotional Hijacking

An emotional hijacking is something you do to yourself, or rather your amygdala does to you when you get triggered by an unexpected or very unpleasant event.  This happens when your emotions overtake your thought processes and your executive functioning goes offline.  It’s when the smart part of the brain gets beaten by the ancient lizard part.

These moments can be filled with fear or anger or a range of other unpleasant emotions.  Here are some of the reasons people get triggered so quickly:

  • Events from the past have not been properly worked though
  • Somebody is pushing your buttons

  • There are current life stressors you are having difficulty managing

  • You have found out devastating news like a partner having an affair

  • You and your partner have the same argument over and over

  • You have little to no self-care and others always seem to come first

The good news is that we have tools to help you combat these nasty occurrences and get you back on track.  We also have ways to avoid going there in the first place.  If you need help avoiding or working through an emotional stress, then give us a call so we can give you all we know.  But we don’t want to leave you without a few tools.  

First, remember to take several very deep breaths and intentionally notice what is happening.  Realize you are going to that place again and take a step back.  Before your smart brain goes completely offline, do your best to not get lost in the emotional lizard brain.  In the beginning, this takes substantial effort.  After some practice, this becomes much easier.

We would love to give you a plethora of additional tools that we know work wonders.  Call us today!


Too Busy to Feel

I come by it honestly. My Dad was a well-intentioned workaholic and my Mom both loses and finds herself in helping others. I’m good at staying busy. It’s brought some amazing adventures, a sense of confidence and independence, and varied nerdy interests and intellectual pursuits.

But what happens when life slows down and gives you more time than you know how to fill? If you’re me, you panic! The panic goes in waves (the waves calm when the smallest bit of distraction helps me avoid the darkness that my fear tells me is looming in the distance, waiting to pounce if I slow down enough for it to catch me). I didn’t think I actively avoided being still, but at the same time I certainly wasn’t comfortable in it and had created patterns and habits that kept me from finding an uncomfortable amount of it. But those patterns of staying busy had been changed and weren’t available and I got scared.

Oh, and to further normalize aversion to stillness, I’m a therapist! I’m supposed to like this shit! I’m into mindfulness and stillness and emotions and all that uncomfy stuff. Wasn’t I supposed to start a prolonged state of levitating bliss when I got my MFT license!?!

So I did what any enlightened person does…I judged myself, I denied my feelings, and I found new ways to get busy again. Until I hit a brick wall and got buried under feelings of depression and anxiety. Until I started crying at small, seemingly random things. Until I struggled to get out of bed. Until I was with my favorite people doing my favorite things and still felt numb because disconnecting from painful emotions had disconnected me from the more fun ones as well.

Begrudgingly, I took my own dumb advice and leaned into the stillness. I got really intentional about keeping up my yoga practice, meditating, listening to music, journaling, letting myself lay in bed and cry if I felt like it. I got intentional about being curious about my thoughts and feelings and simply observing and labeling what I saw.  At that time, what I found, was loneliness. In hindsight, all my previous busy-ness that had been an effort to avoid feeling lonely had kept me from connecting to others, mostly because I hadn’t been connecting to myself.  Without truly seeing my emotions and loneliness, I had not been effective in helping myself feel better because you can’t fix a problem you refuse to identify. Once I got in touch with my loneliness I was able to take action to connect to friends and family, connect more meaningfully to activities, and, most importantly, connect to myself.

This stuff isn’t magic. I still had times (and currently have time…let’s be real, this stuff is part of life and still happens) when I missed people or was bored. And those times hurt, but I find myself practicing being more open to acknowledging that hurt rather than running from it. I firmly believe that being separated from others is painful, but being separated from yourself is suffering.

I encourage you to join me in this practice of daily slowing down enough to see yourself. It’s a scary idea and takes a lot of bravery. And it’s worth it. You’re worth it.

If you’re struggling with overwhelming emotions, we’re here to help.  Get in touch via our website www.coloradocft.com, email, or phone 818.919.2253