Trigger warning: Just in case it wasn’t already obvious, this post is all about triggers, so if you have some triggers that really bother you, you MAY want to avoid this post.
Huge crowds. The smell of certain foods. A certain word uttered by a stranger in a certain tone. The sight of an object you haven’t seen in years. All of these things are examples of triggers people may deal with. Sometimes you can have a trigger and not even realize that’s what is going on. And other people can sometimes be so cruel with how they handle triggers. I am sure most, if not all, people reading this very post have heard, and possibly have had it used against them, these very words: “Are you triggered?” As if it’s a trend to mock someone for their triggers. This is definitely a huge pet peeve of mine. We ALL have triggers. I guarantee you that we do. Some of us are just more aware of our triggers. Some of us also have triggers that have a worse effect on us than others do.
Last week in counseling, I discovered a previously unknown (to me) cause behind some trauma I have. When asked to think about the first time I had felt a certain way, I immediately picked a time, but then when trying to explain WHY I picked that, I completely blanked out and had no clue WHY. It turned out that because of something else going on in my life at that time, I equated THAT bad thing with something else unrelated therefore making the unrelated thing a trigger. From that moment on, I just always felt uncomfortable in the situation (doctor visits, if you were curious) because it triggered the bad time (high school bullying). I definitely knew I had issues from when I was bullied, but until that moment, I had no clue that my issues with doctor visits were triggering feelings in me related to high school bullying. My counselor explained to me how when we ask ourselves a question (kind of like in word association, for example say the first word you think about when I say apple), our mind is quick to come up with something then our brain has to think about WHY and we tend to feel like, “Why did I say that exactly?” Well, in this case, my subconscious KNEW the reason why. It just took my counselor to fill in the blanks.
Since last week, it is almost like the world knows I am hyperfocused on my triggers, so it is just throwing out triggers and conversations about triggers right and left. Why does life do this? I’ve started to ask myself every time I get stressed about a situation or can’t get something out of my head WHAT is the trigger here. It’s definitely been interesting the things that come to mind when I do this, but now I don’t know what to do with the results. I’m kind of sitting here in limbo, knowing some of my triggers and what they are connected to, but what do I do with this information? How do I lessen the power of these triggers so that they don’t devastate me so badly? How do I prevent them from affecting me at all? And is that even possible?
Maybe I’ll get some more answers on Friday when I go to counseling again. Maybe I’ll just have more. Triggers are a tricky thing. I feel like they are almost like demented memories on acid. You have something that is reminding your body of something else but the exact connection is a little bit fuzzy. You try to get a better connection to that memory, but in doing so, you end up opening this huge can of worms, but not like normal worms… these worms are neon colors, and they talk, and they’re a little bit not quite right. Should there maybe be a class in school that teaches you what to do with triggers? It feels like it’s going to be a huge battle to deal with them, but if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that I have survived ALL of the things that caused my triggers, so I refuse to give in to my triggers.
I’m going to end this with affirmations to myself and any others who are struggling to conquer their triggers.
I am stronger than my triggers.
My triggers picked the wrong person to mess with.
I have survived up to this point, and I will continue to survive.
When my triggers dare to show themselves, I will DARE to show them who is boss.
Just because they call it a trigger doesn’t mean I have to give it any ammo.
I would love to hear from others about how they deal with their triggers and what advice they may have found useful in dealing with them. Don’t be afraid to look to others for help if needed!