What to Do When You’re Feeling Triggered

by Christina Cannes

People will try to blame you for everything, especially how they feel. And I’m sure you have blamed others for how you feel, too. But, what you need to understand is that how you feel is your responsibility. ⁠

That’s why your trigger is your problem. ⁠

If someone is making you feel a certain way, that is your issue not theirs. ⁠

Why are you giving them so much power over you in the first place?

The goal in life is to be an observer and maintain neutrality. ⁠

To observe is to be in a non-reactionary, detached state. ⁠

As the observer, you can access all parts of your brain. ⁠

If you’re triggered, you are reacting. This means you are only accessing the back part of your brain where your stored memories and emotions are located. You will have trouble thinking logically and instead be in a hyper-vigilant, fight/flight/free state. ⁠

This is not a good place from which to make decisions. ⁠

What’s the goal? To learn how to navigate and take responsibility for your triggers. ⁠

Your triggers are your map to unhealed parts of yourself. If you’re feeling triggered, this is just your way of bringing up a past trauma that needs to be healed. ⁠

Don’t assign judgement or blame. It just is what it is. ⁠

So rather than lash out at someone for making you feel a certain way, go in and unravel why you are feeling that way in the first place. ⁠

Pro tip: it usually has something to do with an experience from YOUR childhood (during ages 0-7). ⁠

Oftentimes, people who are being triggered by another person will then try and control that other person so they do not get triggered. This is not ok. If someone is triggering you, it is your responsibility to heal the trigger not use your trigger as an excuse to try to control or change the other person. Take responsibility for yourself. You can only control your own behavior and how you feel, not someone else’s behavior and choices. 

Goal in life: stay aware of your own triggers, projections and biases. They are yours to deal with and no one else’s. It’s always best to stay curious than to blame. 

Also, it’s a great idea to discuss triggers with people. Intent is the foundation of everything. Oftentimes, when we are triggered by someone it is our perception of their intent. Ask them about their intent before you react and assume they are trying to upset or hurt you. 

Disclaimer: when dealing with abusive or malignant personalities, you must keep yourself safe. If you are triggered, this might also be your body’s way of alerting you to danger. Therefore, it is important to understand how you are feeling and why, but also determine the intent behind the triggering behaviour by the other person. 

Examples of triggers:

  1. My friend buys a new car and suddenly I feel angry at her. I don’t want to be around her. When I dig deeper into this, I feel jealousy. When I go even deeper, the belief “I’m not good enough” surfaces. “I’m not good enough” because I don’t drive a brand new car. This is the root cause. This is what you need to heal and transform.

  2. I pack a healthy lunch for my ten-year old child. They come home from school with it uneaten and claim they did not like it. Instead of understanding they are young and simply stating a fact, you react in anger and accuse them of wasting food. They begin to cry and you scold them even more for crying. Instead of tuning into your own feelings, you are lashing out at your child for making you feel rejected. This is what you need to heal and transform.

  3. Rather than go on your weekly date, your partner decides they want to stay in for a quiet night and end up falling asleep early. Instead of asking them if they are ok and just tired from a long week at work, you assume they do not want to spend time with you and experience anxiety about the relationship ending. Checking in would show you that you are simply having a trauma response to attachment from childhood. This is what you need to heal and transform. 
  1. You see a social media post and the person disagrees with your point of view. Instead of understanding that they have a different perspective, you lash out with an angry comment accusing them of being a bad person. This causes you to spiral into a social media fight with other users putting you in a bad mood for the rest of the week. The lesson: next time just scroll on by. If someone doesn’t agree with you, it should have no effect on you. If it does, where does this originate from? Feeling unheard in childhood? This is what you need to heal and transform. 

  2. Your partner knows that you are very sensitive with regards to the relationship with your father. Whenever you have a disagreement, rather than try to work out the issue with you, your partner will bring up the relationship with your father and blame your inability to agree with him/her on your father. THIS IS EMOTIONAL ABUSE. This is not a trigger, this is your partner using intimate knowledge to win and argument. This trigger, while it is important to heal the relationship with your father, should not be used against you for any reason. Abuse is defined as control of or power over. Please be mindful of how you are being treated.

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