I am sure you can relate when I say that there is this one person that just yanks my chain.
Whenever I see or only think of her, I feel rage, anger and resentment. For the longest time, I did not understand why, or what happened. Things just went on and on in my mind. I would constantly brood over what she did or said; and it would not stop. With each passing minute, I would get more upset and just want to scream. I was ready to explode. Whenever I talked to friends about what went on, they would always say, “Why do you get so worked up over her? She is not worth your energy.” Deep down, I knew they were right. However, I could not understand why I had such an immensely negative response to her. Today I understand that I was triggered. Triggered by something she said, did, or the way she behaved.
So, what is an emotional trigger?
A trigger is an emotional response brought on by the memory of a situation that happened a long time ago that was never healed. It could be a traumatic event, or a violation of a core value. Triggers happen when we are confronted with a situation that brings on a physical, mental, or emotional response to something we have experienced before. When we are being severely triggered, we may even experience symptoms of PTSD.
So triggers are a bad thing, right? Not in the least. Even though triggers can get emotionally exhausting, they are a good thing because they show us what needs healing within ourselves. They are a roadmap to our health and well-being.
How are triggers being created?
Let’s shift gears and think about a list of chores you have created for the day. It is your day off and your anniversary. So, you want to surprise your partner with a fancy home-cooked meal. You want to get as much housework tackled as possible, so that you can enjoy the upcoming romantic weekend getaway. You must get groceries, do laundry, mow the lawn and prepare that fancy dinner. Imagine this whole list of chores as one big circle; with each task you complete, the circle becomes fuller, until it is done.
Now let’s say that you went grocery shopping, started the laundry and were just about to mow the lawn when your best friend calls and wants to chat because she has troubles with her boyfriend. Of course you listen to her, but at the same time, you begin to calculate how much time you will need to tackle the rest of your chores. You want to surprise your partner with that mowed lawn and dinner will take at least two hours to prepare. So technically, you could chat with your friend for thirty minutes to have ample time to finish all your tasks. Yet she keeps on talking and before you know it, an hour has passed. You begin to realize that you won’t be able to finish everything on time, hop in the shower and put on that nice dress you bought today for this special occasion.
This circle won’t be finished because you can’t mow the lawn and prepare dinner at the same time.
Something has to give. This can become greatly upsetting. Even weeks and months later you might beat yourself up over this day because it was supposed to be so special. After all, you had planned it for weeks. Yet, you chose to be there for your friend because she needed you and you did not have the heart to tell her that you had to go.
If you had finished all your chores and the circle had been completed, your mind would have filed it under complete and would never bring it up again except as a fond memory. However, since the circle could not be completed, your mind senses an interruption. You repeatedly mull this day over in your head because your mind cannot stand unfinished circles. It can get you agitated and can make you reminisce about this day over and over. An unfinished circle will continue to come back into your consciousness; especially when you are being triggered.
This unfinished circle is the same concept as a traumatic event or upsetting situation. The circle of that situation could not be completed because it did not go the way it was supposed to; but now we are not just scared or hurt, we are angry. We want to rectify the situation and stand up for ourselves; yet this is not possible since the situation happened a long time ago. So, when a situation arises where we get triggered, the unfinished circle comes back into our consciousness and with it, all of our suppressed emotions. Since that person triggered a memory within us, all our negative emotions will be focused on her. Every time we see her, it will get worse. What our mind is desperately trying to do is close that circle once and for all and to release the trauma from our past.
So how can we release those triggers and heal our trauma?
We must embrace those negative, disruptive emotions and feelings and figure out what they want to tell us. We must dig deep and unearth the root of our anger and resentment.
The most important thing is to not resent your triggers but embrace them, love them, acknowledge them. After all, they show you the part of yourself that needs your attention. To be whole, you must embrace your dark side and bring it to the light to be released.
I have done a lot of successful trigger-work for myself and now help my clients with theirs. I use a unique technique called T.I.R. (Traumatic Incident Reduction); which I will be introducing next.
I hope you enjoyed this article about triggers and found some value in it.
Love and Light,