Things that Ping your Pain-body aka the Unconscious Thoughts that Trigger Us

While sitting at dinner with a friend, her phone pinged with a text notification, and I noticed the look of irritation on her face.
I said to her; “It looks like your pain-body was just pinged.”
The “pain-body” is a phrase that was coined by the world-renowned spiritual teacher Eckhardt Tolle author of “the Power of Now.”
The pain-body is the part of us that unconsciously gets stimulated by external events.  Our pain-body causes us to react to people and situations in less than optimum ways. It triggers our reactive behaviors, and these behaviors manifest differently for each individual.
The pain-body connects to the amygdala portion of the brain, also known as the toddler brain, whose automatic function is to go into “fight or flight” (which I am sure you have experienced).  When a person or situation pings this part of our brain, our ego experiences it as a threat, and we react in disproportionate ways to the current situation or experience.
At that moment, at the speed of light, the pain-body will bring in all the previous experiences, evidence, and interpretations that it associates with this upset.
Without the development and practice of the self-observer responsible for controlling our ability to assess and discern a situation, we wind up impulsively reacting, shooting from the hip, and experiencing regret shortly after.
An example of a trigger is if you ask your significant other to spend quality time with you, and when you are together, they are continually looking at their phone. Now let’s say that in your previous relationships, you felt ignored, uncared for by not receiving their undivided attention, you unconsciously bring these unresolved issues into your current relationships.
In the example described above, your partner frequently checking their phone during your quality time pings your pain body. You don’t deal solely with the issue at hand, but rather your mind automatically clumps it together with all similar experiences from the past. When this happens, the mind starts jumping to conclusions about whether this person cares for you or not.
Above is just one example of how this automatic pathway works. We can fill in any content with what triggers you personally.
The real culprit lies not in the external pinging but rather that the root cause of the pain was never really dealt with.  I want to make it clear that the root cause of the suffering described in the previous example was not due to past relationships and all the times that you felt ignored. But instead, when our pain-body is pinged, the neurological pathway stimulated goes directly to the amygdala portion of our brain.  This pathway becomes the automatic default pathway when it comes to what triggers us most.
The real challenge at hand is learning ways in which to self-sooth when getting triggered and before the painful experience becomes an amygdala hijack. The work is to identify, learn, and consistently practice ways to change the default neurological pathway; that is from going directly to the amygdala to instead going directly to the executive functioning of our brains.
This is a very difficult task to accomplish on your own in the beginning because “old habits die hard,” and these habits become part of our wiring.
Examples of some of the things that trigger different people:
    Feeling judged or criticized
    Not being seen, heard and or understood
    Being told what to do, think or feel
    Feeling that someone important to you doesn’t care
    Feeling left out
    Feeling unsafe or mistrustful
    Having health, well-being issues
    Fearing that you don’t have enough resources to survive
    Feeling trapped and you have no other options
Examples of some automatic reactivity /behavior are:
    Getting testy and defensive
    Negatively projecting on another and being paranoid
    Blaming, shaming and guilting oneself or another
    Shouting, bellowing and getting histrionic
    Blurting out hurtful words
    Speaking in absolutes (i.e., “you always or you never”)
    Withdrawing, cutting off and stonewalling others
    Punishing another by shaming, sermonizing or withholding of some love, affection, communication, intimacy or resources
    Etc.
Some people ask me how long this rewiring process will take?
There is no one answer to this question. With consistent practice and the right coach or therapist, this rewiring process becomes more comfortable over time. And one day, a situation comes up that would have generally in the past triggered you, and it doesn’t. At that moment, you become unrecognizable to yourself and experience a victory over your history.
I can’t emphasize enough that consistency is critical to change. Doing things intermittently creates more inertia, and eventually, one becomes resigned to the fact that change is even possible.
I also want to stress that we can never really rid ourselves of old habits and patterns that don’t serve us, but we can create new ones that become the new default ways of being.
*A little side note: according to Dr. Steven Stosny, the latest research has shown it takes at least ten months of consistent daily practice to create a new and permanent pathway. Personally and professionally, I found this to be true.
“Remember, the only way out is through.”
If you are interested in this journey, please feel free to contact me and see if we are a match.
Below you can take advantage of my complimentary 15-minute consultation.
Please feel free to share with anyone who you feel would get value from this topic and Relations Coaching.

Leave a Reply