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Trigger Topics: Coffee and Deprogramming Triggers (016) Transcript

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<voices overlapping, music in background>
Oh! Good morning — oh! Do we have to get up?
Keep it down; I’m trying to sleep.
Yeah, we want to make that recording.
What are we going to record today?
What? What recording?
You know, the one about multiplicity.
You know, the usual — we’re trying to make a difference in the world or something.
Oh, yeah.
Well — I just really wanna help people!
I have no idea what to say.
I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who have really good questions, and need really good answers.
Why talk to them? It’s not like anybody gives a shit.
Well what makes us an authority?
I don’t really think it matters how long we’ve been multiple, or how long we’ve known we’re multiple — we’re multiple!
<Aliessa laughs richly>

Episode 16. Trigger Topics: Coffee and Deprogramming Triggers. So this is a recording that we made in May of 2011. So we thought we would share it with you. We're in the middle of a pretty bad trigger of many, many weeks of the smell of coffee in my house. And we had a little freak out, we ran to our bedroom, we started recording. I'm going to edit it as little as possible. And just make sure that the quality is good. And you can hear us talking about triggers, deprogramming triggers, implementation intentions, EFT, and so on.

I'm sitting in my meditation room. And I'm trying to fight the urge to stick my thumb in my mouth and twirl my hair with my fingers. And something I used to do when I was really young, probably 4. I'm in my glider. And I'm hugging a, a large piece of leather that I made into a poncho. And the leather smells good. I ran away from the rest of my house because my partner has been making a lot of coffee lately. And I mean to the tune of making a 10-pot, a 10-cup pot of coffee. Nearly every day, he drinks about 6-8 cups a day. So he's usually refreshing his pot of coffee every day. And it's been slowly freaking me out. Because the only time I ever lived with someone who was making coffee every day was living with my mom and my parents. So I was sitting here and, and doing some stuff to try and work out this trigger. And, and it occurred to me that you know, all things have a bigger purpose. And you know, I haven't had a really serious emotional or mental trigger in a very, very long time. So, you know, maybe this, this is here to help me realize the steps of helping to take care of a trigger, so I can go over it for other people. So I said, "Wow, it'd be great to make a little recording or something." Because right now I'm not really feeling like getting out of the chair. And my iPad was nearby. So I'm recording this from the comfort of my chair, rocking back and forth. And, and hugging my leather and just battling for a few minutes. So I said, "Well, it would be neat, you know, I could do the anatomy of a trigger. And just kind of feel this out." I mean, this one, the sense of smell is very primordial. So a smell trigger gets really pretty deep, especially a smell trigger that was occurring nearly every day for me and also has been occurring every day for a couple of months, almost, especially the last couple of weeks. As my partner's coffee habit ramped up with his master's degree program. He just graduated a couple days ago. Some part of my brain I think, was saying "Okay, you know, I just have to put up with it until his semester is over." So I think that, you know, now that he's graduated and and stuff—it's now two days after graduation. I think that that might be part of the reason that you know, today I just was particularly freaking out about it. So the first thing I noticed was, my—I woke up, I was fine, I was doing things, I was being productive. I was, you know, being mentally acute and taking care of stuff and making plans for the day and my, my partner got up late. And when he put on a pot of coffee, I started noticing my thoughts started spiraling down. I started getting angrier, I started thinking that I couldn't live with him, I started thinking that I couldn't put up with this anymore—you know, not this being the coffee itself, but this—like, for some reason the coffee was symbolizing, you know, him being abusive to me or him taking advantage of me or him continuing to ignore, like things regarding his own health and my health and so on. And so whatever it was, it was just like, really stupid thoughts. Very angry pre-adolescent bullshit.

And so I, I was, you know, still, at the time taking care of the things I wanted to do today. And I was taking laundry down to the basement, and I'm taking care of the laundry, and I'm thinking all these angry thoughts. And, you know, being in the basement, I'm away from the coffee. So, you know, for whatever reason, my head cleared enough to go "What the fuck is this? Why am I thinking this crap?" You know, I wasn't out of thinking the crap. Yep, that I was looking at the crap. I was thinking and just like, "Where did this come from?" I wasn't thinking this type of thing. I wasn't angry and resentful, and, and, you know, fed up and stuff like that, you know, just an hour ago. I—what's going on? And so a second train of thought, you know, in this five plus train of thought head, started running around looking at what was going on, what was causing this, you know, was this reasonable, was this rational. Probably several trains of thought running around doing that, while the negative train of thought continues with its, you know, "Grrrrr, downward spiral, grrrrr" type of thing. And it occurred to me all the sudden, what was going on that, that something was triggering me that—I mean, you know, here I've been dealing with the coffee thing for months as it slowly escalated, you know, from a zero a day habit to, you know, nearly a pot of coffee a day. I started to realize what was going on. I mean, I had complained about the coffee, I had, you know, pointed out that the coffee habit was getting ridiculous, and so on. I also, you know, being somewhat more rational, I also noted, you know, "Okay, I understand why you're doing it. I know that you're working really hard, you know, finishing up two classes, this semester is almost over, you're graduating, stress, stress, stress, pressure, pressure, pressure. I understand. But this isn't good. And, you know, really 6-8 cups of coffee a day from a zero a day habit to you know, it's like 0 to 60. You know, 0 to 60 is just not a very good thing." It makes him paranoid and it does all sorts of things. So it doesn't, it doesn't help our relationship on other levels than this. But if I'm sure it also makes me worse too. Because now that I realize it, I actually have a trigger related to him drinking coffee. So messy, messy, messy. Here I am. I've got these spiraling down thoughts. I've got these other thoughts running around trying to do forensics and figure out what's going on and why is this happening and not, you know why like, "We have to go back into our past and dig shit up." But once I did realize it was a trigger, and realized why it was a trigger, I realized I was being irrational. I mean, there's a rational part of it. I still really strongly think that he's taking too much caffeine in. And on a good day, he's paranoid and still PTSD and all this other stuff. So the coffee is not helpful, although it may help a little bit with depression that's temporary, you know. And if he comes down off the caffeine, he's going to be more depressed and, and more anxious and, you know, and so on. So it's not helping him. You know, anything more than temporary level of like lending him adrenal energy to complete his projects with. So it's not very good for him. But it's certainly not been helping me any. And I don't blame him for that - this is entirely me. This is my head, my crap. You know that he's drinking it at all is his health problem - that I'm triggering on it is mine.

So, you know, I, I, I wrote a little bit about it on a Facebook group for multiples, and then I, I, I was desperately trying not to freak out too much. And then—I didn't want to run away. I didn't want to, I was fighting a strong urge to run off somewhere, anywhere, and have a good cry. So I did end up you know, crying a little bit, but you know, not like a huge crying drag or anything. But I resisted the urge to run off somewhere where I didn't have to smell the coffee and have a breakdown. So I—it's really stupid to have a breakdown over coffee. But anyway. So I took care of some laundry and came back upstairs and there's the smell again. I decided, okay, you know—I calmed down just a tiny bit from being in the basement and really wanted to get out of the house. So I'd been putting off going to the store and getting milk, and I made the excuse to myself, "Okay, I'll go out and I'll get milk." I never ended up getting the milk. But anyway, I got in the car, I drove and went to another store. Bought something I'd been looking for for a while at the dollar store. So then came back. And I looked at the grocery store, I drove around looking for a spot. I didn't want to be, like, completely inconvenienced, I—we buy our milk by the gallon. And, you know, this big heavy thing. And I'm feeling like a little kid and I'm just like, you know, pretty overwhelmed as it is. Decided to skip the store after all, and drove back home. And then—so I came back in the house. I still was able to smell the coffee. I was trying not to spiral back down again. I sat at my computer fora little bit, did a few things. And then I fled to my meditation room. I said "Better leave the room before I get too triggered again." So I came into my meditation room. And that's how I ended up here, sitting in this chair with the leather and I started smelling the leather and closed my eyes.

Now the first thing I did - it actually helped a bit - is... I'm aware of how to do Emotional Freedom Technique. It's a tapping technique that helps with triggers and PTSD and all sorts of other things. And I know how to do it, but I still couldn't bring myself to do it. I guess maybe I'm just like, you know, too triggered and whoever has control of our, our body was like no. But we, we cuddled with the leather. We closed our eyes and we did enough EFT that all we have to do is picture it and go over in our head, like picture ourselves doing it. And that can also help. So we started out with that. We just started out with picturing it and doing it in our head, not actually physically doing it. And then helped and we drifted off for a little bit. You know, I don't know whether we switched or not, it doesn't really matter. We're still in the chair. You know, we didn't get up, we didn't walk out of the room. So sat in the chair rocking and closed eyes and, and just curled up. I started calming the trigger down that way, by using EFT. And then I decided "Oh well, you know, I better like log this somehow, so that people have a clue as to the types of things that I do when I have a trigger. Because I diffused all my triggers probably—might have to say about 6 years ago. 7 years ago. 6-7 years ago, I diffused most of my triggers using other than EFT - EFT is a huge shortcut that I came across much more recently and took care of some other issues than, than PTSD triggers. But it's a ginormous, ginormous shortcut. So I really recommend that you check that one out. I've used implementation intentions a lot, with a much longer road for creating, creating awareness of triggers and deprogramming them. And that was probably my primary one, was implementing—implementation intentions and behavioral, personal behavioral therapy, not therapist driven. But just, that's basically what I was doing. Cognitive behavioral therapy.

To explain an implementation intention is, it's a way of programming your own mind to alert you when something's going on. You can set up a program like "When this happens, I'll do that." And—so the first thing that I do is, "When I trigger in this particular way, I will..." and fill in the blank. So "I will become aware of it." And that's the basic way we start, would be, you know, "When this happens, I'll become aware of it." Then the next step would be becoming aware of it sooner and sooner. As I get aware of it sooner, eventually I'll be aware of it while it's happening, rather than after it happened. And then eventually, all notice before the trigger happens. You know, I'll notice that that juncture between stimulus and response that be—that very tiny, brief moment between cause and effect that is pretty well addressed in Stephen Covey's 'Seven Habits of Highly Effective People'. That's the moment that he calls a—it's basically it's a decision point. And when you're proactive, you make a conscious choice at that decision point. Since most of our triggers are not conscious, we have to make them conscious. And so that's how I was using implementation intentions - which I read about somewhere completely different - to, to bring my awareness to the point before the response to the trigger. So I would first notice my response to the trigger, and then cut that time between when I would start triggering - when I would start my behavior, whatever it was, whatever the response was - and when I would notice. Until I got to the point, right when the trigger happened, rather than after I responded to it. And that would bring me to the point that Covey's talking about, you know, stimulus response. So there's that space between stimulus and response. And I got to that point, and I was able to choose different reactions to the stimulus. It's very long and drawn out - I mean, it's not anywhere near as long and drawn out as Freudian therapy, but—and it's a cognitive behavioral technique. And it works. If you're really diligent at it, and you might need some coaching on how to do it. But EFT blows it out of the water. I mean, you can deprogram a trigger in, you know, 15 minutes or half an hour, if it's a really tough one. So in less than the length of a therapy session, you can personally, without anybody else necessarily having to help you, you can completely deprogram these triggers. Again, you know, you might need some coaching, you know, and getting a professional to help you - yeah, it's wonderful thing. But it's good to know that there are these techniques that you can do yourself, you can practice them to the point that they work without anybody else helping you out.

So, so here I am, you know, so I was between doing a few rounds of EFT in my head and drifting off and letting stuff go for a little bit and getting increasingly calmer. Seeing as I'm going to have to be driving around soon and dealing with the outside world again.

To give you an idea of what EFT does, there's a shorthand EFT technique that I use. I started out with the longer one, but this is the most popular one. First I tap the side of my hand. It's the side next to the wrist, where, between the pinky and the wrist. That side of the hand, they're like, you're going to do a karate chop. So it's called the karate chop point. And about halfway about in the middle of it, there's a little bit of a sore spot. If you tap it with your fingers, you'll feel it. So you tap that and just keep tapping it. And you say, an affirmation to yourself. So I was saying to myself, while picturing myself doing it, not actually physically doing it. But I've done it physically so many times, I know exactly what it feels like. So I was tapping that in my head and saying—let me see, what was I saying to myself? I started out pretty strong. I said, even though "I absolutely abhore the smell of coffee," you know, or something along those lines. "That even though I absolutely" — oh no, I said "Even though the smell of coffee makes me absolutely sick to my stomach, I still love, honor and cherish myself." So I started with that, and say three times, "Even though the smell of coffee makes me sick to my stomach, I still love, honor and cherish myself." And I did that again. "Even though the smell of coffee makes me really sick to my stomach, I still love, honor and cherish myself." Then there's a series of tappings to do, about five to seven taps per area, doesn't really matter, you don't bother counting. But you stay in each area until you say a little tiny reminder phrase. So I would tap on the beginning of my eyebrow next to the bridge of my nose. Doesn't matter which side. And I'd say "The smell of coffee." Get on the outside edge of my eye on the bone, on the opposite side from the nose next—right next to the soft spot in your temple. So tap the ridge of the bone there and say "The horrible burned strong smell of coffee." And then underneath my eye on the cheekbone, right underneath the soft spot of the eye. I would tap there and say "That overwhelming smell of coffee." You know, just keep saying things that remind me of what I'm talking about. Under my nose and that little indent underneath the nose between the nose and lip. "The overwhelming powerful smell of coffee." In the crease under my lip, on the chin. So it's above the chin below the lip in that crease there. "The horrifying smell of coffee." And then, you know, so on. And so whether there's, let me see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, do do do, 7. I do 7 or 8 points, probably. So there's one more just below the collarbone. There's a sore spot, about an inch, like if you're on the point of the collarbone right below your throat, that pointy part. You just go diagonally about an inch into that sore spot underneath the collarbone. And then the other one is the armpit about 4 inches down from the armpit. It's approximately across from your nipple, in the armpit area. And some people do under the breast. So if you're a boy, it would be about three or four inches below your nipple. If it's a woman, it's directly underneath the breast. All right, underneath where the creases below the nipple, and tap there. So then you can repeat that more than once or you can go back to tapping on the karate chop point and do it again from there. There's a free download, which I can point to at some point for instructions on doing the Emotional Freedom Technique. And why each of, you know, why you do the karate chop point for example.

Anyway, so that helps me calm down a lot. Now, am I able to step out of my room and smell coffee and have nothing happen? I don't know. If I were to do this correctly, I would have to also check for aspects. So maybe I would take care of something specific first, like, you know, if I accidentally said, you know, "When Christopher is brewing a pot of coffee" and you know, tap eg these points. Well, then maybe if my mom came over and brewed coffee—I mean, obviously, my mom brewing coffee is a very different animal than Christopher brewing coffee. Because now I have a double association, I not only have the pot of coffee, but I have my mom. Which you know, relates directly back to when I was a kid. So that could actually trigger the whole thing all over again. So I could be here for the next month or two, and everything be fine and then my mom come to visit and she makes a pot of coffee, and I can be freaking out. So I might have to go through this again. You know, if I noticed, now I'm more aware of it, I might actually notice. And if I noticed that my anxiety levels going up, and the smell of the coffee is bothering me, again, I could go through this like immediately and say, "Oh, even though my mom is brewing a pot of coffee, I still love, honor and respect myself" and do the karate chop thing three times and then go through the rest of the point until my anxiety level regarding the situation or thinking about the situation is zero. I could stand by the pot of coffee and test this out. And if the smell is bothering me, I can go through the whole tapping thing right in front of the coffee. So I would first work on it until the idea of the coffee. The idea of smelling the coffee doesn't produce the anxiety. Now the next time I walk into a Starbucks could be completely different animal.

Now, there are other ways of me dealing with it. I mean, I could turn to my partner and say, "Hey, can we get you different coffee? Can we get hazelnut coffee? Hazelnut coffee does not trigger me. In fact, I like the smell of hazelnut coffee. My mother never made hazelnut coffee when I was a kid, it smells so different. Could we switch what type of coffee you're drinking for a while while I work on this?" You know, so that might be a possibility. Or maybe if I lit incense or something while he's brewing the coffee, maybe it would change the smell in the house significantly enough that the smell of the coffee wouldn't trigger me. So that would be another possibility. Obviously, if he switched back to tea, that would make my life much easier because the smell of bergamont tea does not bother me. You know, he can have Earl Grey until the cows come home and I'm not going to trigger. But you know, I do have problems walking into like coffee shops, walking past the coffee aisle in a place that, you know, has fresh ground coffee. I still get increased anxiety and I never realized why. You know, but it was always there and I knew I didn't you know, "I would say I hate coffee. I don't like the way it smells. I hate it." Why do I have hate? I don't hate a lot of things. Why do I have this amount of animosity towards an object or a smell? You know, I mean, I'm okay with the skunk smell, but I'm not okay with coffee. What's with that, you know? So anyway, so that, that pretty much, I think, brings me to the, the end of this particular recording because I'm gonna have to go. But I just wanted people to be able to, I guess, experience some of this with me. So that's what's going on. That's what I'm going to do about it. And maybe if I can, I'll give an update at some point about how well it worked out, but I can't guarantee that. But I'm pretty sure I'll probably do that, or at least put it in a text blurb along with the recording. So that's it. And thank you for listening.

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