For the past few weeks, I have been reflecting on the importance of recognizing triggers within ourselves and others. As many have been following the ProtectLDSChildren.org movement, there have been many productive, eye-opening discussions as well as many destructive, angry triggering discussions.
As a spiritual life coach-guide and healer, I am always trying to leave an open heart space as well as responding diplomatically to people (including self love, with my own journey). I admit, I have been emotionally triggered with some of the comments and discussions lately. On a couple occasions, I would openly discuss my frustrations with my husband. He said to me, “Why are you so angry?”
That had me thinking. Was I angry? Frustrated? What were the comments that were making me upset? Was it the same topics? Do these emotions typically happen when it comes from men or women? Was there a boundary crossed?
Let’s face it, some people are downright mean and closed-minded. Refuse to see another’s perspective and that is frustrating. I actually do not mind conflict and find we can learn new perspectives this way, if we allow it. This type of reaction was different.
I realized because of my own trauma (PTSD) with bishops interviews and patriarchal abuse when people (especially ignorant, narrow-minded men) would make a comment and started to victim shame/blame…that would do it! I was reliving a portion of my initial feeling of the trauma. I was back in the warzone! Grenades were going off!
How do we recognize the difference between trauma triggers and regular emotion? Here are some of the things I noticed are different when in a trigger episode:
- Irrational emotion – nothing can be “said” to calm you down
- You feel the need to talk and cannot stop talking/writing about it for some time
- Anxiety or panic attack (struggling to breathe)
- You can go from anger to sadness in 5 seconds and vice versa
- Wiped out and possibly immobilized
- You HAVE to have some sort of outlet to get it out (writing, exercise, meditation, rest)
We know we cannot control what other people do, so how do you recognize these triggers and what can you DO to subside and deal with it for yourself and others?
For our fellow trauma survivors, if writing an article or posting in a social media group, anything around abuse, unrighteous dominion, or trauma, please have the courtesy to write: Trigger Warning or TW and what the topic of trigger could be (i.e., sexual abuse, etc). Studies have shown doing this reduces the trigger response, just by being a little more prepared for it.
For your own trigger response, here are steps I have learned to take within and after a trigger episode:
When grenades are going off:
- BREATHE: Take 5 breaths – breathe in hold for 8 seconds and breathe out. Do that 5 times. (if not ready for this, go to step 3)
- ASK QUESTIONS: If you can, ask yourself a couple questions (if not ready for this, go to step 3)
- What is making me upset? Not feeling heard? Not validated?
- Was a boundary crossed?
- Does the comment remind me of a past experience or trauma?
- Is it REALLY true? Is there someone you can trust that would confirm otherwise.
- WRITE: Write down your thoughts separately in your phone notes or a journal – it could be a response to the person or just how it made you feel. Do not send anything or respond, if at all possible (after this step, if you weren’t able to do step 1 or 2, go do that now).
- WAIT: Wait 1-2 hours to review it again (it could be the next day too), make changes and see if you still want to send it. Notice how you feel. Do you feel more calm? Do you feel good about what you wrote? If not, revise!
When you are out of the war-zone:
- CALL: If the trigger is from someone that you are close to and you feel safe enough to talk, instead of or in addition to responding via social media or text, ask if you could call them the next day or next couple days. This can create some great resolve but sometimes does not. Only you can know if this is a good step for your healing.
- CREATE YOUR BOUNDARY– If you don’t feel safe with the person or cannot find resolve, create what you need to feel safe. Clean up your social channels. If you need to mute or block the person until you gain your composure and footing again, do that.
- RESOLVE – Find resolve. If it cannot be resolved with the other person, find it within yourself. Learn from it. What do you want? Determine what you feel good about and what feels right to you in future posting and responses.
If any of these steps don’t resonate with you, figure out a trigger plan that feels right and works for you! Why all this effort? This is how we heal and decrease our trigger episodes. We are re-wiring the brain to figure out the new thoughts vs. the automatic, no thought, just reaction-type emotion when triggered.
Trust yourself. Be yourself and that is all that matters! Have self love with yourself that you are learning and growing. Have peace in knowing energetically the people that are on your same wavelength/page/vibration will stay or new, amazing people will come into your life. The people that are not on that similar vibration, will move further away from you. It is Universal Law. Sometimes this can be hard but if you can recognize this energy ebb and flow, it is easier to find compassion. Compassion for where they are at on their journey and where you are at on yours. Then you can send love to them and move forward in your own strength, truth and light!
Sending you love on your beautiful journey of healing!
Ashley Kaye is a life long seeker, empath and intuitive healer. In her early twenties, she recognized her ability to feel energy on a very high level and began to study eastern healing and energetic philosophies. The art of Reiki, Feng Shui, Chakras (our energy centers) along with learning and understanding the divine tools of Mother Earth and what is given to us naturally to self heal (herbs, crystals, elements, etc). She certified as a life coach-guide because of her life’s desire to support others around spirituality, relationships and life purpose. She has a passion to support those in any point in faith transition to help further self progress and healing. She recognizes the diverse scenarios we each encounter transitioning and navigating out of LDS faith (or any orthodox/ fundamental faith), especially finding and trusting yourself again. Visit www.SoulPotential.org to learn more!