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Trigger- (not the horse*)

The word trigger has become a bit of a buzz word. Let me break it down for us.

It comes from the Dutch word Trekken which means to pull.

Google tells me that one of the definitions is to cause an event or situation to happen. Synonyms include activate, set off or trip.

In the world of therapy we talk about triggers, a lot.

When we are involved in a conversation or activity with a loved one and they do or say something that activates a reaction in us that is off the scale, that is getting triggered.

Our reaction to the event doesn’t fit with what just happened. There is a story that goes with that reaction that is ours to uncover. It isn’t his or hers to blame. We are activated or set off by any number of things.

When our reaction is out of the realm of appropriate, we have work to do.

He cuts you off on the freeway and without a thought, you rev your engine, change lanes and follow him. Where this will take you is not on your mind. You are triggered, activated and a bit irrational.

You are interrupted when all the ladies are speaking. It happens often. You have decided it is personal, you are furious. You have been triggered.

I am not suggesting that we never have a reaction to things that go on in our everyday world but when our reaction is not fitting to the situation, when we are thinking threats and absolutes, when we are ready to cut off all ties, we are triggered.

You might be thinking so…….?

The value in knowing your triggers is your own emotional regulation.

It is much easier to go through life if you know what makes you tick. The solution isn’t finding a cave for hibernation somewhere although at times, it would be divine.

Here’s an example, being heard is a huge value to me. Being heard as a kid wasn’t part of the parenting playbook in the 1950’s. Although I don’t believe I need everyone to agree with me, I often need validation that my point was considered, that my voice was heard.

When it isn’t, invisibility sinks in. I know where this comes from. That is not a blaming statement in as much as I understand the origin of the story. I get to remind me that I am a grown ass woman, not a kid being seen and not heard, I don’t always have to be vocal.

But if I didn’t know this story, I would walk around insulted and incensed all the time.

That is not an easy way to go through life and an impossibility for a therapist.

So, learn your triggers, figure out if your reaction is within “normal limits.”

Here are a few questions:

~ does your family cringe if you are set off?

~do people walk on egg shells around you for fear of an eruption?

~do people avoid your company due to excess fall out?

~are you in need of consolation often?

Without knowing it you have put your emotional life in the hands of everyone around you. Get a hold of your triggers. It ain’t their job, it is yours.

* Trigger was a TV personality many moons ago