‘Glimmers’ are the opposite of triggers; how to embrace these positive emotions

They aren’t just tiny moments that bring joy or happiness. They also can spark ease, relaxation, safety, connection or a feeling the world is OK even if just for a fleeting moment.

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“Glimmers” of hope: one expert suggests allowing yourself to fully embrace feel-good emotions.

“Glimmers” of hope: one expert suggests allowing yourself to fully embrace feel-good emotions.

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“Trigger” has become a commonplace term in our cultural lexicon, but few people know about the opposite of triggers: glimmers.

Coined by Deb Dana, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in complex trauma, in her 2018 book ”The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy,” the term refers to small moments when our biology is in a place of connection or regulation, which cues our nervous system to feel safe or calm.

“We’re not talking great, big, expansive experiences of joy or safety or connection,” Dana says. “These are micro moments that begin to shape our system in very gentle ways.”

On TikTok, one video about glimmers has gained more than 78,000 likes and hundreds of comments expressing appreciation for the idea of embracing glimmers

“I love this ... and (I’m going to) hold on tight to it,” one user wrote. “Ohhhh this is my new favorite thing ever,” another posted.

Glimmers aren’t just tiny moments that bring joy or happiness. They also can spark ease, relaxation, safety, connection or a feeling the world is OK even for a fleeting moment.

Glimmers can be found in different places and senses. Some examples include:

  • In nature, admiring your garden or seeing the stars in the sky.
  • By noticing a stranger’s smile or the warmth of a loved one’s voice.
  • With pets, feeling comforted by furry friends.
  • And in music, such as with unexpected church bells or a favorite song playing on the radio.

“You feel something happen inside,” Dana says. “There’s an energy that happens around a glimmer, and then your brain then marks it as well.”

Noticing glimmers especially can be helpful for people who have experienced trauma, she says.

“Working with trauma survivors, it’s so respectful of their suffering,” Dana says. “It allows them to understand that their biology is wired in a way that we don’t discount the trauma or the crisis or the ongoing suffering, but we recognize that their biology is exquisitely set up to be able to also notice the micro moments of goodness.”

Our brains have a tendency to look for the bad, says Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker and editor in chief of Verywell Mind.

“Being on the lookout for danger can help us stay physically safe,” Morin says. “But since we are no longer lurking in the forest hiding from hungry animals, we don’t need to focus on the negative quite so much to stay physically safe.”

The concept of glimmers is that recognizing small, positive moments over and over can begin to shape our system. This shift to recognizing the bright side can have a beneficial impact on mind and health, according to Morin, who says, “It’s really good for us to have a break from our uncomfortable emotions sometimes, A little joy and some relaxation can reduce your emotional distress.”

She says this also can help improve logical thinking.

“That means you might be able to tackle a problem from a different angle because you see things a little differently, or you might be able to talk yourself into doing something difficult once your anxiety subsides a little,” she says. “Less emotional distress can also help you take more positive action.”

You can recognize what a glimmer is, but how do you embrace them? It doesn’t require a lot of practice, Dana says.

“As you begin to see a glimmer, you begin to look for more. It’s just what we do,” she says. “And we then delight in finding them. 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.

“We want to start small because for many people, finding a glimmer is a challenge,” she says. “For people who have lived in a trauma-saturated life, it’s hard to look outside of that.”

And because we’re wired for connection, if there’s someone else in your life who wants to go on a ”glimmer journey” with you, you can share your glimmers with them, which brings them alive, Dana says.

Morin suggests letting yourself fully embrace feel-good emotions.

“Sometimes, people don’t want to feel them because they know those emotions won’t last, or they might feel guilty for feeling good during a hard time in their lives,” she says. “But trust that it’s OK to allow yourself to experience them. Enjoy them while they last. And know that you’ll have more moments of joy in the future as well.”

Read more at usatoday.com

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