When we hold onto emotions from childhood they can continue to affect our lives. If you felt fear as a young child, you may still feel that same fear as an adult. When you try new things or you meet new people you may feel afraid. Perhaps your parents taught you to be afraid by worrying about every little thing.
Emotions from the past feel exactly like emotions from the present. Most of us are not able to determine whether an emotion is old or current. This can limit us in many ways.
If you are starting a new project and you feel anxious you assume it is due to the new project. We need to find something in our environment to blame for our anxiety. We are not comfortable with the idea that we are feeling anxiety that has no basis in the present moment. Our rational mind needs an explanation.
Emotions from the past are like landmines. They are hidden from us waiting for something to trigger them. A trigger can be anything that reminds us, at a deep unconscious level, of the original event. This is not a cognitive memory but a sensory based or emotional memory. It is usually outside of our awareness. It is unconscious.
A trigger does not need to be an exact match, just close enough. When something in our current situation is close enough to the past it engages an emotional response. Our emotions respond much faster than thoughts. We respond to an emotional trigger in less than half a second.
How triggers work
How do triggers from the past work? If you were punished for making too much noise then situations that are close enough to be triggers include:
Making cold calls
Meeting new people
Asking someone out on a date
Expressing needs effectively.
Whenever you feel that you are attracting too much attention or making too much noise then discomfort from the past sets in. You will avoid the situation or struggle with performance problems such as suffering through a presentation at work.
What are your triggers?
Could your triggers be related to your childhood? Are you avoiding certain situations because of unpleasant emotions?
The only way to know whether an emotion is from the present moment or the past is to investigate the source of the emotion. If you discover that these emotions are not helping you, the poetry of emotion process is a unique way to uncover and release limitations from the past.
(Image: Cpt_hun @ Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cpt_hun/4413581935/sizes/m/)