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  • Writer's pictureAndi

Triggers



Have you ever been part of a conversation, where someone says something in passing that makes you feel angry, irritable, insecure, or vulnerable? It can be as innocent as someone talking about a fun gathering with a few friends, their child’s accomplishment, fabulous vacation, a job promotion, a pregnancy, and the list is endless. Suddenly you notice that you have just made it personal. This absolutely happens to me. I become irritated with the person who made the statement, a rapid conversation begins in my head, and suddenly the nice time I was having is consumed with that one line and my stomach hurts.


This is called a “Trigger”. It’s an automatic reaction and it creates a physical pain in your body. I visualize this emotion surge like a wave crashing against a rock and the spray spiking up into the air. Why does this happen and what does it mean? It usually means we are feeling insecure in this area, otherwise the comment would not have caused any reaction.


Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, can be a wonderful way to share our lives, but they can also be a source of daily triggers because only happy slices of life are shared which is nothing more than an ILLUSION without the full picture. Can you think of anybody in your life who does not have suffering of some kind? In my coaching journey, I have encountered so many women from all around the world who share their stories in order to process their emotions and peel away the layers of pain. I am often left with my mouth gaping open and so impressed at the strength of the group to share such vulnerabilities. What I have come to realize is that EVERYONE, including me, has a story, and NOBODY is immune to the pain that comes from living life. How we process this pain determines our level of resilience and how much we will be triggered. Once we feel complete inside, then the outside becomes less important, and we can let triggers roll off our shoulders.


I recall a trigger that happened about 10 years ago. I was at a dinner party, and we were talking about our teen years. An acquaintance asked me in front of the group if I was “as boring then as I am now?” She thought she was being funny and did not elaborate further. I immediately felt that wave crashing into my chest and in a nano-second I projected that it must be because I have never been a big drinker and have trouble partying to early hours of the morning. I remember thinking, “wow, now I see how hard it is for our children with peer pressure to want to fit in”.


I have spent time deconstructing this memory and have come to learn with the help of a coach, that when I moved here at 15, I did feel different. I was more innocent than the girls in my grade due to my sheltered upbringing and for many years I felt uninteresting. All self-projection and what I told myself. I now know it’s so silly, but so goes the emotions of a teenager. Today, I am very comfortable with my life choices and would no longer be triggered by this comment and can easily answer “Yes, I am as boring today as I was back then”. I would laugh it off and go back to the table conversation.


Today when I feel that wave crashing against the rock, instead of getting annoyed, I immediately think “Hmmm, why was I triggered? What is lacking in me right now?” I am so busy deconstructing myself that I don’t pay much attention to what was just said, and the feeling of inadequacy soon passes.


For parents: Your children will likely tell you that you are the worst parent due to a boundary you are setting. This never bothered me because I knew it was just not true! If you are triggered by your child’s actions or words, look inside yourself and see why it’s setting you off? Try to use this moment to connect with your child but like that wave hitting the rock, let the spray settle down and give them space if they need it. I am still working on this second piece. If my daughter is reading this, she is for sure laughing or rolling her eyes, because giving space is not something I am great at doing. I still want to be the “fixer”.


If you find you are overly reactive to triggers, a Do Over might help and I am here to support you.


~Andi




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