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The Myth of “I’m Triggered and it’s Your Fault”

What, exactly, are triggers?  Triggers are those moments and circumstances in our lives that cause us to experience an emotional response that is not in line with the event that caused it.  Another term for experiencing a trigger is feeling that response of, “You pushed my button!”

A trigger event causes an emotional flashback, where we feel very strong emotions, often uncontrollable.  Most of us assume that the trigger was caused by the perpetrator – the person who did whatever occurred that caused our negative feelings. The truth is, each one of us has triggers that originate within ourselves. Other people are not responsible for our trigger responses.

Do not blame the other person for triggering you. Instead, look at yourself for answers. Do some self-reflection. Ask yourself some questions:

  • How do I feel?
  • How old do I feel?
  • Does this feeling match what just happened?
  • When have I felt this way before?

Talk to yourself. Help yourself out. Don’t look to blame or attack the other person. Instead, help calm yourself down. Implement some healing mantras; such as:

“This, too, shall pass.”

 “Everything will be okay”

“Feelings are fleeting.”

Find a mantra that will help you feel soothed and emotionally safe.

The reason this article is entitled the way it is, is because many people assume that the trigger originated in the other person, that somehow it’s the other person’s fault that you got triggered.  This is simply not true. The trigger response only belongs to you. It resides within you and has something to do with an emotional injury from your past.

The way to eliminate trigger responses altogether is to work on healing the underlying emotional injury within yourself.  Here’s how:

  1. Identify the emotional injury within.
  2. Feel it and grieve it.
  3. Resolve and complete the feelings.
  4. Make a decision to change.

This involves both right brain and left brain work.  Your right brain does the reacting, feeling, and remembering. Your left brain contains the solution – the decision to change. The left brain will help you cognitively by analyzing and changing the beliefs attached to the trigger responses.

Use your left brain to challenge dysfunctional beliefs, replacing them with healing beliefs. Instead of, “I can’t handle this,” say, “I don’t necessarily enjoy this feeling, but it will pass and I can survive it.”

Triggers are just messages to you that you have some unresolved issues to work through. Take each one as an opportunity to heal, grow, and mature. This will be an “inside job” and will have absolutely nothing to do with changing the other person.

The other person is simply a tool in your life; a tool used to “grow you up.” Yes, triggers throw you back into an emotional flashback, putting you in an earlier phase of life – an undeveloped part of you. As you work through this unresolved part of your development your trigger responses will dissipate.

Healing can and will occur if you make a concerted effort to change. Hold on to hope and be patient with the process.

The Myth of “I’m Triggered and it’s Your Fault”

Sharie Stines, Psy.D

Sharie Stines, Psy.D. is a recovery expert specializing in personality disorders, complex trauma and helping people overcome damage caused to their lives by addictions, abuse, trauma and dysfunctional relationships. Sharie is a counselor at LIfeline Counseling & Education Inc., in Southern California (www.lifelinecounselingservices.org). Lifeline Counseling is a non-profit organization 501(c)(3) corporation. Sharie is also an abusive relationship recovery coach - therecoveryexpert.com

 


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APA Reference
Stines, S. (2018). The Myth of “I’m Triggered and it’s Your Fault”. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2018, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2018/03/the-myth-of-im-triggered-and-its-your-fault/