A trigger happens when you hear something that makes you feel something (often uncomfortable) that takes you somewhere… usually back into a past memory recall where some kind of trauma took place.
The tricky part is that the journey back in time is often not part of our conscious awareness.
What do we mean by this? We hear our mom say, “Guess who I ran into? Your childhood friend Samantha and she’s now engaged”. You tell yourself you should be feeling happy for her but all you can think about is an uncomfortable feeling, rising up in you that feels envious. Sometimes this doesn’t make sense. I mean you may be happily married yourself.
So, what the heck is going on?
In this specific scenario what has happened is your unconscious mind has gone into your memory bank and found a source file that held a memory of growing up, a time when you developed a belief (for example) that your friend was better than you… prettier than you… smarter than you. Maybe someone told you that, maybe it was your Mom who gave you that message, maybe your friend gave you that message straight to your face. Regardless, you internalized it. Whatever those details may be a trauma wound was developed… and now this present situation has tripped up a memory (usually unconscious) of that past situation that may be unresolved in you. This is what is creating these funky feelings in you, not the fact that she is engaged.
An important note to remember is that trauma is subjective. Trauma is not necessarily big and nasty. Trauma is a psychological and emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing.
*Everyone’s perception of what is distressing is different and valid. That’s why empathy is so important but that’s another topic for another time.
You’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t shoot the messenger”. Often, when people hear a message that they don’t like, it invokes the fight or flight reaction in them. Rather than running away from the message, let’s dive deep into the messenger’s true meaning.
Let’s get empowered through this. Try this quick exercise:
Name 3 things that ‘trigger’ you often. Pick the ones that come up right away:
Underneath each one, ask yourself – what is the message each trigger has for me?