Triggers

We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this—through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication, we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime.
— Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

I have grown to hate this term lately.

When did it become acceptable to try and trigger someone? How do people live with this being their goal, or even find humor in it?

Would you walk up behind an army veteran with PTSD and make a loud sound hoping to trigger them? That kind of thinking is just sick, and yet day after day I see someone talking about how they hope they trigger someone. I feel sorry for them. How twisted do you have to be to think like that?

Many people have triggers, and those triggers can be anything. They may not even know that something is a trigger until they experience it. Triggers activate an emotion within us and whether or not we like it, we need to feel and experience those emotions. In a safe way of course.

I remember going to work one day and a coworker was riding with. We were talking about random stuff when he mentioned that his brothers were coming to visit and how excited he was to see them. He hasn't seen them in a while and when he moved to California to live with them, things changed and he couldn't stay

I remember sitting there realizing that I was never excited to see my brothers and it was something that I was missing from my childhood. It was something that I longed for so long. I was jealous. I was so angry, not with my coworker, but with myself and my family. I wanted those feelings. I wanted to feel excited to see someone and I wanted someone to feel excited to see me. I can go months, even years without seeing family and I’ve never felt excited about it when I did finally get to see them.

Seeing happy families, even hearing about them is one of my triggers. It’s something that reminds me about my past and brings it into the present. It’s something that awakens a deep pain that I would much rather ignore, but by ignoring it I can’t move past it. I need to find my way of accepting those memories, that pain and finding my way through it so I can have the life that I want for the future.

It’s something that we all need to work on.

When something triggers you, it doesn’t mean that you are any less of a person than anyone else. It means that you’ve had experiences, that you’ve gone through some things.

So what are we supposed to do when something does trigger us?

Acknowledge it. It’s giving you a deeper understanding of what is going on with yourself. Figure out what it is, and why you are having these feelings. I’m not saying that you have to stay in whatever situation it is that is triggering you. It may be best to avoid those situations after you find out what they are for the time being, but you know you best. Do what you feel is best for yourself.

I challenge you today to recognize what some of your triggers are and write them down. Talk about them with someone that you trust. Tell them how seeing or hearing whatever it is affects you. Tell them how it makes you feel deep inside, what kind of emotions it brings to the surface.