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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer

Hangry Birds At Dawn


Some hangry baby birds woke me up at dawn this morning. I'm not a fan of seeing the dawn. I prefer to face the opposite direction on the other side of the day and see the sunset instead. That way, I get more sleep. These hangry baby birds had other plans for me today.


As I lied there listening to them squawk for their breakfast somewhere on the roof of the apartment building, I was emotionally taken back to a time when I was a small child in small town Minnesota in a similar situation. I allowed my mind to think back on that pleasant memory when my brain made a quick switch to a different time when I was an older student also being awakened by birds at the crack of dawn on a day when I had a major test I did not want to take. The calmness of the first memory was being drowned out by the anxiety of the second. It was like a trigger, but not really because the term trigger is intended for more emotionally charged situations linking the present to past circumstances.


However, as I was lying there getting more and more unhappy with those birds for waking me from my needed slumber, I had a revelation. This was an opportunity to practice processing triggers.


The best way to process a trigger is to sit in it and let those thoughts move from the emotional part of the brain in the amygdala into the frontal lobe where they can be logically processed and cataloged.


In the world of coaching and therapy and mental health, the process of sitting with triggered negative feelings sounds easy on paper. In a world where we have been telling ourselves and our children to make decisions based on how they feel instead of logic, we've gotten out of practice. If practice makes perfect, then practice is what I should do.


I pushed my eyes shut and mentally reached for the calm memory of when I was a child. The singing birds made me smile. They created a feeling of curiosity. I wanted to go outside and play with the birds and any other creatures I came across such as butterflies. They were a calling to be a child in nature. That feeling made me feel connected to the world.


Once I identified that, then I allowed myself to investigate the anxiety from my memory banks. I was able to place myself in my teenage bedroom. The room was dark. I remember the birds forcing open my eyes to stare at my alarm clock next to me. The dull red numbers embedded themselves into my eyes with the realization that I was not ready for this test. I needed to heed the call of the birds and get back to studying even though I lacked sleep for the task. I was going to fail that test. I knew it.


It occurred to me this morning that I cannot remember the test, the class it was in, or if I passed it. That one test was not the life-destroying weapon the teacher yielded against me I thought it was.


Once that was identified and processed, I allowed myself to go back to the happy memory and calmed my nerves again. Then, I put on a short podcast on prayer on my phone at a low setting and allowed my brain to meditate on that as I fell back to sleep.


This may have been a minor event, but it helps my brain remember how to process emotional events properly. Practice, practice, practice. Reflecting on past events can be an important processing tool.


We have beautiful sunsets around here. I'm looking forward to the one tonight. I will use it to take stock of today's events through my amygdala and frontal lobe and get things properly filed in my brain.


Thanks for reading!


Sarah

Humor In Chaos

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