Today I want to talk about triggers, something I had to deal with over a long period of time. I realized that the trigger would always be there, but the change comes when I need to respond. My response will reflect if I am still triggered.
Let’s start off by asking the question, what is a trigger? Or what are triggers? The experience of having an emotional reaction to a disturbing topic (such as violence or the mention of suicide) in the media or a social setting. However, there is a difference between being triggered and being uncomfortable. Triggers are reminders that cause painful memories.
Feeling triggered isn’t just about something rubbing you the wrong way. For someone with a history of trauma, being around anything that reminds them of a traumatic experience can make them feel like they’re experiencing the trauma all over again. When we experience trauma, our brains stores the surrounding sensory feeling to memory. Then, when we encounter these sensory triggers years later, the brain may reactivate the feelings associated with the trauma. In some cases, we may not even be conscious of why we are afraid or upset. For instance, if you got into a bad car accident while listening to a certain song or while chewing grape bubble gum, these sensory experiences could become triggers for years to come. So for me, I was involved in a bad car accident in the year 2000 and the song, Shackles by Mary Mary was playing at the time so today whenever I hear that song I am reminded of the accident, so the song triggers the memory which my brain stored.
What are examples of triggers? Triggers come in all shapes and sizes and are unique to each person.
These are a few common triggers:
— A holiday or anniversary of the trauma or loss.
— A certain sound, sights, smells or tastes related to the trauma. — Loud voices or shouting.
— Loud noises or arguments.
— Being ridiculed or judged or ignored.
— Being alone or getting rejected.
— A breakup of a relationship.
— A violent incident.
— Domestic violence
– Sexual harassment or unwanted touching or rape or molestation
– Physical illness or injury.
Now, how many of us can relate to one or few on this list? I most definitely can relate to a few. Triggers explain the reason behind a person’s reactions, rather than it being used as an excuse for the behavior. These reactions are a person’s survival response. Understanding triggers can help you become more understanding and forgiving of your misbehaviors. Being able to recognize your triggers is also a responsibility. You should be responsible enough to change your unconscious responses.
Common situations that trigger intense emotions include:
— Unfair or unjust treatment.
— feeling unwanted or unneeded.
— Helplessness or loss of control.
— Loss of independence. — being excluded or ignored.
Let me talk about 1 of my triggers which are on this list, growing up I always felt rejected and felt as though I was constantly being treated unfairly and that could never voice my thoughts. As I result, every time I felt these emotions I would feel like I was being suffocated, and I would want to state my case, and make sure that I am being heard at all costs. I would want to go into full battle mode, to fight against the unfair treatment.
So, how do you recognize your triggers? Having gone through my self-discovery journey I had to take a step back and start listening to my body, the minute I started feeling intense emotions like, my heart ponding, my stomach suddenly feeling upset, I feel a shakiness or dizziness or even sweaty palms I realized that something had been triggered. I had to become present in my presence that when I notice these signs, I had to stop to consider what just happened and the response it activated. And why?
I had to trace the root of these feelings, following the root of these feelings is not easy. It means wounds need to be opened, and sometimes it’s easier to live with that bleeding wound. I had to learn how to manage these emotions at the moment. Once you’ve identified your emotional triggers, you might think, “That’s easy. I just need to avoid those situations.” But in reality, it is not really that simple. You can never avoid or escape every difficult situation life throws at you. And it is inevitable that unpleasant emotions will come up occasionally. In other words, it is best to prepare yourself to deal with any triggers that might come up in your day-to-day life.
Own your emotions, remind yourself that it is OK to feel whatever you’re feeling at that moment. Anxious, angry, afraid, mad — triggers can evoke plenty of emotions, and that’s normal. But before you can begin working through those emotions, you have to accept them. Denying or ignoring what you feel generally only makes it worse over time. Give yourself space because you are only human and keep an open mind. Communicate, this one is so important. When someone else’s actions trigger your emotions, opening up may help you avoid a similar situation with them in the future. Especially when you are in a relationship or with family. Lastly, I would say, identify toxic relationship patterns when it comes to managing emotional triggers, much of the work lies with you. Other people don’t bear responsibility for your reactions. They are, however, responsible for their actions, which might trigger your emotions.
In closing, learning to recognize and manage your emotional triggers can take some time, but this can pay off in some major ways when it comes to your relationships and overall well-being. Unpleasant events can provoke strong reactions in anyone, but when you can manage triggers effectively, you’ll find it easier to navigate tense situations without unnecessary stress.
Let us learn to manage and navigate our triggers so that we can live well. I hope these will help you identify your triggers and help you deal with them. Get yourself a therapist if you must, talk to someone. Help is available, you just need to reach out.
Change YOUR narrative!
Stop being a bleeding wound, it is time to HEAL!
3 thoughts on “What are triggers?”
I am blown away in the amount of growth you have done these past 4 years. Your writing and wording is cut throat and leaves out all the frills but deals with the heart of piece written.
Congratulations my love. We’ll written.
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What triggers me is losses, distress, anger, unappreciated, rape, unfair, abuse, nervous
I am so sorry to hear your triggers. I hope you allow yourself the space and time to heal from your triggers.
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