Emotional triggers

Triggers are people, events, situations, things, words that cause in us an emotional response. Even though the way we respond to a trigger can be excessive it doesn’t mean it’s not real to us. On the flip side, triggers often have a negative connotation, and yet they are not necessarily always negative. We can be triggered by a song, a specific smell and we can actually have nice memories and a nice bodily response in the moment. 

However, when we talk about tiggers there is usually a negative emotion linked to it: sadness, anger, disappointment, hurt or shame.

Our emotional reactions to a trigger can be so strong, so long, so debilitating that they start interfering with our daily lives. 

Before we even discuss of different strategies how to heal from triggers, it is important to understand that triggers don’t just come out of no where. Triggers keep coming back and keep provoking a reaction because they usually are pointers to certain aspects of our life that needs more fine tuning. We are triggers by things, people, statements, situations because deep down we haven’t worked through our own feelings and emotions about it.

There is a very fine line between triggers that can help us to heal and those that will traumatize us all over again. 

Here are some of the strategies to try to implement when dealing with triggers:

  1. Awareness

Be aware of your trigger. Don’t try to run away from it, if something gives you an unpleasant feeling, a sensation that you want to run away from sit down with it and write it down. Are you triggered when someone comments your career choices, your parenting style or your weight? Write it down as a first step.

2.   Identify the source

This is one of the most important aspects of dealing with triggers- finding their origin. Was it a past trauma? Was it something you were told as a child or by your peers? If you identify the people, situations, events that caused you to react emotionally in the first place, you get the opportunity to understand yourself a bit better. You can put two and two together in a more coherent way.

3.  Change the narrative

Start reprogramming your negative thoughts into positives ones. If you are trigged and the first thoughts coming to your mind are negative, try talking in a more positive way: “this is not true, I am worthy” or “this is not reality, this is not happening”. The more we repeat positive affirmations in times of distress, the more we are able to connect these positive thoughts with triggers. Inevitably, that leads to calmer, softer reaction. 

Keep in mind that some other practices can help as well: deep breathing, breathing from one-nostril at a time, practice knowing your emotions (don’t run away from them, get to know yours fl better).

4.  Accept and get the right attitude

Triggers won’t go away. They will keep coming back at al times and that is part of life. How we react is the only difference. Acceptance is the first step-accept that triggers won’t go away, nasty comments (especially from loved ones), difficult situations, past traumas are all ever so present in our lives and to accept them means that we give them a little less power. Having an inner dialogue with the trigger is the way to go about it: “I know you are here, I hear what you say I think differently”. The more we accept triggers and actually “talk” to them in a different frame, we give them less power to consume us.