Just how triggered are you!?

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A trigger. Essentially an emotional reaction to some kind of seemingly external stimulus. Something someone close to me says or does that disturbs me in some way. It seems like the stimulus is external, yet actually it is really internal. In my perspective a trigger is a point to an unresolved wound in my being that was probably formed in childhood. 

What happens when triggered is that some reactive and unconscious part of self takes over. It takes over often with a volatile and undesirable series of actions. This can range from anger and rage with all the shouting and screaming, and even throwing of lamps or other objects... to the sulking and moping withdrawn silence... to endless series of pleading texts, emails, voicemails and missed calls... or even to the less externally harmful yet internally damaging endless ruminating about revenge, or self-depression (I'm so unworthy).

Regardless of our personal predisposition, being triggered is an unpleasant state to be in and often leads to a great big mess. It can quite literally destroy relationships, and at the very minimum lead to hours or days of pain and despair. 

I'm not sure if it's possible to ever be free of triggers, yet I am certain it is possible to become much more elegant at working with and stopping the sabotaging behaviour that comes with them.

The following is a scale of 'stages' that kind of show how elegant we are at working with a trigger, by understanding at what stage we fall into a reactive pattern. The goal is, obviously, to work up the scale and learn how to 'catch' the trigger earlier and earlier and as such end the painful and destructive behavioural patterns that accompany our consciousness being hijacked by immature and child-like reactivity. 

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6. Complete delusion.
You don't even know when you are triggered and think that becoming emotionally volatile and reactive is a normal and justified part of being human.
(The paradox of this stage is that, obviously, if you are in it you wouldn't actually know because you think your behaviour is totally reasonable)

5. Well-after-the-fact
You get triggered, usually for an extended period of time (day,s rather than hours, of emotional ranting inside your head, acting in less-than-elegant ways, thoughts of how to "get back" at the person who upset you, or how to "win them over", or some other obsessive cycling) and then finally when it falls away and you slowly come back to some state of sanity are left wondering "what the hell just happened!?" as you stare in disbelief at the aftermath .

4. Straight-after-the-fact
You get triggered. Things get crazy. And then all of a sudden like a fog lifting you see the wreckage around you like a hard slap in the face. It's too late though, what's done is done and all you can do is knuckle in for the clean-up vowing that you'll never do that again (until the next time it happens, of course)

3. Mid-trigger
You get triggered. Emotions flare up. You go into whatever reactive pattern is your not-so-favourite-favourite flavour (anger, pleading, endless words, silence and avoidance, sulking, etc) and then suddenly in the middle of it you catch yourself. STOP! Slam on the brakes and, if you are lucky, manage to avoid driving head first off that cliff. Things might be bad, yet they aren't totally wrecked. Phew.

2. On-the-trigger
Rrrraaaarrrrr.... wait, what!!???
Something happens. You find your emotions flare up, your mouth opens to let out a verbal stream, or a bit of rage, or get ready to be on the defensive, or to say something hurtful and you stop. Like catching yourself at the supermarket with a shopping basket full of family size chocolate bars.
"If I go through the checkout, it aint gonna end well"
Put those chocolate bars down.
Well... you can have one. But just one, it's a conscious choice, and don't eat it all at once.

1. When it comes through the door
This is the level of elegance. You see the trigger coming from a distance. You are chilling watching your favourite Netflix show when a cold tingle passes over your body. The phone rings. It's your mum.
You answer with a smile already breathing deeply, knowing that it's gonna be allllll right, no matter that she's about to say that thing that ALWAYS get's you. Until now that is.

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Getting good at triggers takes work, practice and time. However it IS possible and, in my opinion, is the type of work that truly leads to experiences of increasing freedom and creativity.

The following video outlines a process that you can take if triggered in order to come back into a state of self-regulation AND reap the learnings and beauty from a trigger that leads to transmutation and new levels of grace, elegance and novelty.


Emotional self-regulation. What to do when triggered.

Damien BohlerComment