An in Depth Look at Emotional Triggers
We all have them and when they hit they are usually unexpected and beyond our control.
What happens next, right after we are confronted by this unforeseen trigger?
Well, if we haven’t done the personal work to gain insight into what and why we are triggered, we tend to react with old patterns, defense mechanisms, and strategies that no longer serve us and can actually make things worse.
Emotional triggers come in all shapes and sizes, as that is the nature of them. They can be obvious, like if someone were to outright insult you or directly threaten your safety. Triggers can also be as subtle as someone making a mildly sarcastic comment, which then reminds you of a memory of someone belittling you in the past.
Something seemingly small and insignificant to someone else might instantly set you off on a train of negative thought.
Triggers aren’t always about what people say or do. They can even be a smell you remember from childhood or the date of a traumatic event earlier in your life. A trigger can pertain to any of the five senses, however the most common triggers are sight and sound.
When we are emotionally triggered our individual “conditioned responses” can vary widely from person to person, depending on the situation we are dealing with.
Some of the more common conditioned responses are to:
- get angry
- be needy
- comply or try to be too much of a people pleaser without honoring yourself first
- withdraw or shut down from the other person
- blame someone else for the situation
- turn to addiction: drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, food, shopping, work
Do you relate to any of these responses? How do you feel about them?
The truth is, that the pain doesn’t go away if you try to avoid the emotions that you are experiencing. It is only by gaining self-insight that healing may begin. You might be wondering….
But why do we all have triggers?
Mostly they are formed when we were children.
Growing up, every one of us would have experienced pain or suffering, of some sort, that we couldn’t deal with or acknowledge at the time.
Basically, a trigger is anything that sets off an emotional reaction within you, based on a memory of something unpleasant or hurtful from the past.
So as adults, we typically become triggered by experiences that are reminiscent of these old painful feelings. As a result, we typically turn to a habitual or addictive way of trying to manage them.
We can also be triggered if an ingrained belief about ourselves, or our identity, is challenged.
How do you know if you have been triggered?…….
Be aware if…You are reacting much more intensely than is appropriate.
This could be an indication that the particular situation has triggered something deeper and older in your mind.
You aren’t actually reacting to what’s happening in the here and now. By emotionally responding to a trigger, you are not acting freely or seeing clearly in the present moment.
The good news is that anyone can work on clearing out and dealing with their triggers!
Identifying your triggers is the first step to healing them.
The following list includes some of the most common emotional triggers that you might find yourself reacting to when you feel you are not getting one or more of these needs met.
Some of these will be more important to you than others.
Everyone is unique.
It is important to know what your triggers are and become more familiar with how you react.
You can then investigate their underlying origins and the connection to your past.