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7 Things To Do When Being Unwanted - Triggers You.

  • You’ve been in a situation where you felt like you weren’t needed.
  • You’ve been serving someone and you weren’t appreciated.
  • You feel like your existence should matter, yet they don’t act like it.

Anger, sadness, self-doubt, and unexplained behaviors such as confronting a person impulsively, would be your first emotional reactions to the person or situation that triggered your feelings of being “unwanted.”

Your body will also respond to these instances. They would be signs that your nervous system is experiencing a perceived threat. The threat of feeling unwanted. You will feel an upset stomach, tightened chest, dizziness, and heavy breathing.

Calmly Respond to your “threatened” nervous system.

By “threatened” nervous system,  I mean to say that it must have switched to fight, flight, or freeze mode. Hence it would be crazy to put your rational mind to seek answers from it.

Being triggered is a stress response to your nervous system. Any emotional reaction that you display is not the one to be replaced. It is rather your nervous system that is calling for your attention. Your nervous system is to be asked more questions than your feelings. “Why am I feeling this way?” is not an accurate response to calm your threatened self. Some of the questions to get started are:

  •    Is it my emotional response that I must be bothered about or am I switched to flight/fight mode?
  •    Do I feel like hiding away or the need to have everything in order?
  •    What are some of my common emotional responses whenever my nervous system feels threatened?

Asking questions in this frame would not force yourself to “get over it”. It will allow your nervous system to De-freeze and attain the safety it requires to function rationally. When your emotional intensity gets back to normal, is when you can dive deeper into your triggers.

Feeling “unwanted” is a relationship dynamic. Acknowledge it.

Research suggests that feeling “unwanted” in your early relationship with your caregivers may manifest emotionally in your adulthood. If you are triggered by the idea that your partner, friend, or colleague does not need you, then get back to the relationship dynamics you have experienced.

Parents of such children would often offer them love and attention on a conditional basis. They would threaten to withdraw their love if the child fails to meet up to a certain standard.

Behaviors, actions, and energy that depict someone’s withdrawal of love and care are threatening in themselves. As a result, it reduces your ability to see yourself with high esteem. You may develop a sense of self that is unloved or uncared for. This also develops your belief system as an adult “I’m not good enough.”

I would encourage you to ask the right question and ask yourself:

  • Has there been a dynamic that made me feel unwanted?
  • What did it look like? Who were those people? What was my bond with them?
  • What conditions and standards did they impose on me?
  • Did the idea of not meeting their standards evoke an emotional response from me?

You are used to being taken advantage of.

You have tasted what it feels like to be unwanted by someone that mattered to you. The anger. That sadness. Those genuine tears rolling down your cheeks, wishing you never met them. Being part of a dynamic where you are consistently made to feel unwanted, you will learn to display consistent behaviors that will starve for their attention.

  1. You will do whatever it takes to please them, allow them, and serve them.
  2. You know the chances of feeling “wanted” are small. Hence you would put your guard up.
  3. You will have an intense emotional response to instances where you do not succeed in attaining your goal. i.e. to seek their love and care.

 You lack the required coping skills and now you don’t know what to do.

Triggers develop when you lack the healthy coping skills to break the pattern and cope with the situation. Your emotional response would be a part of your coping mechanism to deal with those patterns. They perform the same function as any other coping skills do.

Emotional reactions may look like anger, fear, loss of control, stress, feeling unsafe, and other related. When you do not know how to manage these emotions, you would respond: aggressively, violently, misdirecting your anger towards someone else, denial, self-harm, binge eating, and abusing substances.

Are these bad? No.

Do they make you a bad person? No. There is no reason to feel guilty after getting angry with someone. These are coping mechanisms that play the same function. i.e. to adapt to situations and protect yourself from harm. To your nervous system, they are simply those mechanisms that prove to be useful and help calm you down.

 For starters, I’m curious about what you’re telling yourself.

  • I know the world is unfair to me because I’m not deserving enough anyways.
  • I’m a mess.
  • I must be going wrong somewhere, hence they have a sane reason to not want me
  • I must have not worked hard enough to make them happy. I should try harder next time.
  • They would have seen me if my scores weren’t as bad. It's not an “A+” after all.
  • Why cannot I be good enough?
  • Why do others get the love and care so easily, when I do not? Is there something wrong with me?

It would not take long before these thoughts turn from noticing/sensing changes in others' behavior towards you, to actually questioning yourself. Those lack of answers will leave gaps within you. That is when you would fill them when thoughts that would evoke an emotional response.

Notice that, these thoughts are there for a reason. They exist to help you cope with the pain that you experience in the first place. hence it is always good to be aware of what you’re telling yourself in these triggering moments.

 You have been underestimating the Specifics.

You would be tricking yourself if you are planning to ‘identify your triggers.’ Perhaps for some, it does work. But most of the time, your brain may not get what you are actually up to.

  • What specific person appears to be triggering my emotions?
  • What specific instance appears to evoke responses out of me?
  • What specific smell/memory/place triggers that anger in me?

The more specific it gets, the better blueprint you will be able to offer to yourself. These specifics may not occur to you in the first instance because, don’t forget, your brain would try and protect you at all costs. Perhaps using the mechanism of suppression.

Take it one by one.

Ask yourself the specifics each time you get the thought of that person whose behavior puts you in a confusing state. Seek the specifics each time you are in a social group and your emotions are triggered. Seek the specifics for when you wake up and don’t really feel good enough but are frustrated.

Please understand, that the goal of asking these questions is not to seek a definite answer. The goal is your approach to processing these instances. By asking questions, you are saving yourself from getting involved in the ruminative cycle of unhealthy coping mechanisms and provocative emotions. By asking for specifics, you attend to one core dimension of the entire situation. thus bringing yourself closer to clarity and encouraging adaptive coping.

The People-Place-Situation Analogy

Make three columns in your head. What specific people with specific signs make you feel unwanted? Maybe it is that kind of people who would act differently every second day, leaving you confused about what they think about you. Maybe it is someone who would eye-roll onto you but speak well with you, only to leave you anxious and feeling unwanted.

Similarly, what specific situations or places trigger your idea of “I feel unwanted”? Maybe it is rainy season and you walk nearby a lake, with the romantic couple seated by the bench. Maybe joining a new dance class each time makes you realize how unwanted you could be.

Understand that knowing these are only 50% of the work done. You must place some boundaries within this people-place situation that your list has identified. These personal boundaries help you answer:

  1. What is mine and not mine to deal with?  
  2. Whether I strive to be a healthier person? (Rather than deciding if the other person gets upset about it!)

Personal boundaries may sound like this:

  1. Any behavior that leaves me questioning my worth is not something that I progress my relationship towards.
  2. Eye rolling, back-talking and gossiping leave me anxious and question my worth. I would rather prefer to be alone than be around you.
  3.  If you cannot communicate your feelings with me, it would leave me confused about where I stand in your life. That is something unhealthy for me and I won’t be able to address your concerns that way even if I want to.
  4. Remember that you can choose what specific behavior affects you. Pick just one and set a boundary against it. You would be grateful for taking a step and seeing how faster you heal.

 Chose intention over the default.

Your emotional response to triggers is nothing but an autopilot response to protect your ego from threats. Becoming intentional in regards to picking certain specific thoughts and behaviors that would serve you instead of working against you, to which the resulting response would be getting triggered. Keep picking those consciously, until it becomes part of your autopilot functioning.

When you are learning to cope with feelings of being unwanted, you are actually forming new cognitions. Your brain is trying to make sense of the blueprint given to it and develop neural connections. When you are intentional about specific thoughts or behaviors that you would wanna pick, at least for the first few days – your neural connections tighten up.

According to a study, there would be changes in your brain with an increased number of neurons and greater flexibility in white matter that demonstrate your adaptation to the situation.

Triggers are a sign to process what happened/ is happening?

Experiencing triggers of feeling unwanted does not mean you must suppress them. Or deny yourself out of existence. You are not weak for being unable to cope with those. Your presence of these triggers calls your attention towards better processing of what you are actually experiencing.

This is when talking to a supportive friend who may validate your thoughts and won’t make you feel stupid for thinking/feeling a certain way is important. For those of us who cannot recognize having a supportive friend, may give yourself time to feel those emotions without actually beating yourself up. Let yourself cry and remain in bed all day long.

 A balance of working on yourself and allowing yourself to work (to process that anger or sadness) is the key. And you don’t need me to tell you the appropriate time to do so. Just like your hunger for food, you will starve for what is best needed for growth and healing.

Journaling is a healing act; if that’s your thing.

A few starters for journaling could go a long way in helping you with being specific, intentional, and aware of your triggers.

  •  When was the last time I felt this way?
  • What thoughts do I repeatedly have about this situation?
  • What do the facts tell me about this triggering event?
  • What specific aspects of the situation would be helpful for me to focus on?

 

 

 

 

 

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