GHOSTS FROM THE PAST
A trigger occurs when certain situation or thing (it can be a smell, sound, word, anything) brings you back to a moment of trauma from your past.
Sometimes it can look very strange for the outside observer. To make it more difficult, triggers are very individual and other persons are often not able to identify what caused your very emotional reaction. Then you are left with your awkward feelings, with your reaction that is surprising even for you and with incomprehension of people around you. Very stressful situation L
Unfortunately most of us have triggers that make us jump out of the skin. Good news is that we can approach them as a challenge and in a way to get back more of our emotional freedom. If we want.
Listen what happened to me some time ago.
There was an event that costed me much more energy and, let’s face it, life, than it was all worth. I was attending a presentation and how to say it – the presenter and the form of it was not really my cup of tea.
For a long time I was constantly thinking what went wrong. Why am I not able to process it? There are good events and bad events so why is this one making me so frustrated?
The fact was that the conference couldn’t be further behind my expectations. But was it really a reason for being frustrated for such a long time?
With a little help from my friends (thank you P&J!) I started digging into myself and I realized that my overreaction was caused by two, at the end quite obvious, triggers with roots in my childhood:
- I have very hard time dealing with laud or aggressive ways of speaking – I am basically scared and have a need to defend myself!
- I have a real problem with being grateful for something that I am not ok with – the problem is even bigger when I like and respect the donor but I have a profound problem with the present itself.
The combination of these two triggers made this situation extraordinarily difficult for me do deal with.
Time passed and I hopefully overcame my problem- let’s now change it into an opportunity.
I dag through my smart books and the internet, and what I found as most helpful in similar situation can be summarized in a five step process of liberation from triggers (by Marcia Reynolds).
Ready? Steady? Go!
The 1st step – is to accept the fact that you are responsible for your reactions.
Basically you have to accept yourself as a person that can make a difference in your own life. You are the one that can change your feelings (so am I!). Imagine how much easier would it be if you controlled your reaction better?
The 2nd step – is to recognize your emotional reaction as early as possible Do you know that moment when your breath starts to be faster and you can hear your heartbeat? Yes, this is the moment. Look at your feelings, name them. Do not judge, just recognize so you can then work with them.
The 3rd step – try to determine what triggered your emotions.
Try to recognize if the threat is real. Do you really need to feel fear, anger or sadness?
The 4th step – your turn to choose what you want to feel and do.
It is not that easy to feel totally free from the trigger – but at least you can stop your chain of reactions fast enough to decide what you want to do, not to let your emotions decide for you:)
The 5th step – change your emotional state. Try and gain your emotional freedom. Change the emotion when you see it arise.
Uff these theories! At first sight it seems to be bit complicated but it really isn’t at the end. Sometimes we just have to look at ourselves as our best friend would do and say: “It is ok. I know it is not easy. But you have all the powers to change it.”
I have a feeling that every psychological theory is about the same at the end. To be able to take responsibility for your own behavior (just yours, not others) and deliberately behave the way you consider to be most appropriate.
The same with the triggers, it will probably take some time to be healed from them, but it would be a pity not to even try. It never does any good when your past is in charge of your future.