April 1st, 2022

Everyone has their “triggers” that can in turn create stress, arguments, substance abuse and behaviours that under “normal” circumstances, we’d never do. Just look at how Chris Rock triggered Will Smith to assault him at this years Oscars. We’ve been dealing with so many triggers over the past few years that have fuelled our deepest fears, anxieties and behaviours. I have embraced this notion of triggers versus glimmers from an article I read a while ago and wanted to share my takes with you.

Glimmers are the opposite of triggers. Here is how to adopt them:

Glimmers is a term that was coined by Deb Dana, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in complex trauma, in her 2018 book entitled “The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy”. Glimmers refer to small moments when our biology is in a place of connection or regulation which in turn cues our nervous system to feel safe and calm. The emphasis here is on small or micro moments that we consciously foster to help us shape our reactions in very gentle and calming ways. For example, yesterday I was taking a walk along the waterfront to clear my mind of negative thoughts and came across this lovely scene of swans, ducks, geese and seagulls enjoying the ice-free bay on a sunny day, getting along in a way our human counterparts can never seem to do. It was a GLIMMER moment for me and transformed the rest of my walk and day.

Glimmers aren’t just tiny moments that bring joy or happiness. They can also ignite ease, relaxation, safety, connection or a feeling that the world is OK even if only for a fleeting moment. Look for your glimmers in nature, in a strangers friendly greeting or smile, in your furry friend’s company, in church bells ringing or a favourite song on the radio. You’ll feel your mood lift and your inside energy and brain will mark it with positivity. Noticing glimmers daily is especially helpful these days. Noticing the micro-moments of goodness is very powerful as our brains have a natural tendency to look for the bad. Being on the lookout for danger has helped us survive but it’s the moments of peace and tranquility that will help us live longer now.

How to embrace glimmers?
Now you know what a glimmer is, but how do you embrace them? Luckily, it doesn’t require a lot of practice. What I’ve discovered is as you begin to see a glimmer, you begin to look for more. It’s just what we do… and we then delight in finding them – like an easter egg hunt. That’s your nervous system beginning to shape toward the patterns of connection that are inherently waiting in there to be deepened and brought alive. I invite you to set a “glimmer intention” every day. You may decide “I’m going to look for one glimmer before lunch.” Start small because for many people, finding a glimmer is a challenge. For people who have lived in a trauma-saturated life, it’s hard to look outside of that. You can also keep a glimmer journal to write down what you discovered and reflect at the end of the day.

And because we’re wired for connection, share your glimmers with partners, friends, on social media etc. We all need more glimmers in today’s world.

May Your Anchor Hold

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