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Habits & Triggers

Guest Post by Alicia Ortman

I had a crappy day a few days ago. I had family drama going on, I was short with my husband and my daughter, and I had an unexpected hard conversation with a dear friend of mine. I knew because of the conversation with my friend that resulted in me crying by the end of it, I had been triggered. I felt drained and discouraged, but I was determined to not get stuck in this rut of a trigger. However, when the next morning came, I had an emotional hangover looming from the night before, I didn’t wake up early, and it was a dreary stormy day. Within the first five minutes I knew it would be a bad day. I was up half the night trying to support a dear friend, even though we were talking about hard stuff. I said all the right and mature things to him, and thought I was good. I was proud of myself! Then a few minutes later as I let the conversation really sink in, triggers started flashing their lights at me. Triggers aren't always directly about you. I was giving a advice to a friend about what HE should do, but because I was involved, the emotions were stirred up for me too. An issue that wasn't my issue at all, triggered deep abandonment issues of my own, and then I spiraled into my grief and loss zone.

Abandonment. Grief. Loss. Rejection.

Those are my deep rooted triggers and even though I have gone to therapy, done the hard work, and found some pretty awesome ways to cope, sometimes they still get the best of me. I want to let myself feel my sadness at times, because that is healthy. But I also know that I have to get myself back on my feet and fight through it. I do that through my daily habits that bring me joy. I knew the next day was crap when I woke up when my daughter did. I was pissed off. Waking up at 5 am is HARD, but it is that time that I am able to have some me time. I’m typing this at 5:45 am, and guess what? my house is quiet, no one is asking my for a snack, to play with them, or to wipe their butt. I have been waking up at 5am for a year and a half, and as a toddler mama with a few goals in mind, I neeeeeed that time alone. Normally my day looks like this: wake up at 5, journal, and have time to work on whatever I want: read, edit photos, type a blog post, meditate, even work if I want to. Then when my daughter gets up, I do a quick workout with YouTube, shower, and start our day. By 9 am, I have done things that bring me peace, I have moved my body, and I have accomplished a goal. I feel happy, powerful, and ready to take on whatever life throws at me by then, even if it is a cranky toddler. Here’s why habits are important:

Since I didn’t sleep well which made me not want to get up at 5, none of those things that I know I need to do for myself, got done. I did nothing for myself on a day when I was emotionally drained. And it showed with my crappy attitude. I desperately needed to do a workout and get that anxiety out of my body. I needed to reflect on gratitude in the morning to get my heart right. I needed to read anything to get out of my own head. I wanted to go for a simple walk around the neighborhood, but it was yucky out all day. As the day went on, I knew my attitude wasn’t going to get better because I was mad at myself for not getting up early. It’s the smallest thing, just wake up at 5 am. But the impact it truly has on my outlook for the day, has ripple effects. If I get up, I’ll do my journal, I’ll meditate to clear my head, I’ll work out to clear my body of emotions, I’ll have a dance party with my daughter to laugh, I’ll routinely do my habits because they work. Habits work. They freaking work. When you can start your day with one habit that has positive effects, you will immediately feel that trickle into your life. Start by waking up ten minutes before your kids and having a cup of coffee in peace. Once you feel that moment of peace and get to watch your kids run to you rather than yell at you to wake up, you will see how impactful that one habit was. Over time, add another positive habit. Your life can change because of your habits.

Yesterday, I didn’t do great. I fell down and let myself down. I let a trigger throw me off course. I gave up my habits because of a trigger. Today, I stand back up with a not necessarily a lighter heart, but a better attitude and a determination to not have 2 sucky days in a row. And guess what? It all starts with an alarm set at 5 am.

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