Monday, December 27, 2010

Triggers Are Everywhere

Triggers can get us at any time, place, moment or in any circumstance or with any person. There is no discrimination by triggers. Often when you least expect them, they rise up and smack you hard in life.

Recently I was in a workshop and got triggered so hard, the shame and pain of the trigger almost pulled me under. Fortunately, I was able to deal with it in a positive way because life was spiraling out of control very quickly. To read more, check out the blog post Healing The Triggers Of Life.

Another example was that I had gone to a Toastmasters meeting to check them out and possibly join. Toastmasters goal is to help you learn how to speak in public more effectively. The first meeting went okay with one individual significantly pushing the boundaries but I shrugged it off.

On my second visit, there was a person giving a speech who thought it was appropriate to give a sermon about God as her speech. The evaluator for her speech of course loved it because as he said, "I am a pastor (minster of a church)!" I felt violated and triggered. Later I found out that topics such as religion and politics are not appropriate for these meetings as they are not meant to make people uncomfortable. The purpose is to help people give speeches, not deal with hot button issues.

For me, going into stores during the holiday season and seeing people buy gifts for Christmas is extremely triggering. It brings me back to some very painful gift exchanges at Christmas in my early years.

Just to be in a store where it is crowded or where they have aisles filled with merchandise to restock the shelves like in Walmart, is triggering. I get claustrophobic easily and if aisles are blocked, I panic that I am trapped and cannot get out.

People (especially strangers) bumping into me are extremely triggering to me. At one time to be touched by anyone was so frightful. I have really come a long ways in this. Still, I am very guarded when I am out in public. It is hard for me to trust anyone.

Recently, I had a friend come down to visit and was triggered unexpectedly and hard when the friend left without saying goodbye. I remember the traumatic moments around my older brother getting up early, slipping out the door and driving away. No goodbye had been said and no one realized he had packed all his belongings into his car, the night before. The only way we knew he was gone was when we heard his car start as he coasted out the driveway.

Who could blame my older brother for his escape? While I had to play counselor and console my parents, I was both angry and jealous of him for leaving. I was just a teenager held captive in life that was brutally traumatic. What amazed me though was how strongly I was triggered back to these events and just how much pain surfaced as a result.

Other times in bodywork and massage, I've been strongly triggered in the role of being a massage therapist. I have had people overtly and covertly try to solicit sex from me as part of the massage. Some of it has been more of a sense and feeling than anything but each time it happens, it triggers me back to some horrible experiences I went through with my father.

I could go on and on about many more triggers. Triggers are the one thing that are abundant in my life. I wish I could wave that magic wand and make them all disappear. Often though they show up unexpectedly while surprising me with a hit and run kick to the gut.

When these triggers hit, I am trying hard to recognize them. It is so easy to continue in life thinking that everyone else is seeing the events unfold as you do. When you are able to check your reactions with people you trust, there is a chance for a different outcome. It is so easy to think that when you're triggered, how you see things is how others see them. Understanding that a difference exists is helpful and healing.

I do not try to stop my emotions or feelings when I am triggered. Instead I work to help myself understand what is going on in this situation and how it is affecting me. I allow myself to learn and work with the trigger by talking and writing about them. In addition, I also allow myself to connect with the feelings and emotions of it with where it is located in my body.

Triggers are not easy for me to deal with but I am learning that I can work with them and begin to heal from them. The more I acknowledge and give them a voice, the more energy and power that I take back from them. At times, I do try to minimize triggers in my life so that I am not completely overwhelmed.

In life, what I considered to once be a life sentence in dealing with triggers is now something I am able to work with. Even though times where I am triggered may get rough, I do realize there are other options in how I react to life. Triggers can get easier to deal with and I know that I can heal from these moments.

Further Reading:
Healing The Triggers Of Life, Blog Post on November 24, 2010


Blog Post & Images (c) 12/13/10 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

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