Although it’s usually a distressing experience when we are triggered, our triggers can be powerful clues that help us unravel what’s going on inside our mindbody system.
If it’s hysterical, it’s historical
When we feel emotions in the present that are very intense, and that seem out of proportion to the current experience, this is usually a sign that there is a link to a childhood wound. We may not have a concious memory attached to that strong emotion, but when we have that feeling that our brain is being hijacked and emotions threaten to overwhelm us it is almost always connected to a past trauma. (And traumas are not always ‘big’ obvious events as many people think).
For example, perceived rejection – even as mild as disinterest – is a huge trigger for me. It can flip me from a rational adult mindset into desperate toddler rage/grief in a matter of milliseconds. Coming to understand that those feelings came from my wounded inner child and being curious about why I felt that way, helped me to be more self-compassionate about it, and less ashamed of that strong emotional reaction.
Now I take better care of my inner child and am kinder to myself, I get triggered less often. And when I do? I know it’s only a feeling and it will pass. I am safe. I am loved. I am enough.
What clues are your triggers giving you about your internal world?
Quote from The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk