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  • Writer's pictureSarah Kingwell

The Positive intention of our triggers

Updated: Jul 24, 2021

“Avoiding your triggers isn't healing. Healing happens when you're triggered and you're able to move through the pain, the pattern, and the story and walk your way to a different ending” Vienna Pharaon

When we think about triggers, we would all have a different idea of what a trigger is, we may not really have full conscious awareness of when we have been triggered, as sometimes our triggers cause reactions and behaviours that we are so used to that we see these habits and behaviours as just who we are. However all behaviours and reactions are just that, habits, formed over the years as a response to an event, a situation or even a comment, and in the journey of recovery and healing we can gain insight into our unconscious reactions and triggers and we can develop new, healthy ways to cope so to speak.

I personally went through most of my adult life being triggered, reacting negatively to the smallest of things, finding myself easily angered, frustrated, sad and overall out of control of my own emotional wellbeing. Over the last year of working through my triggers, and more importantly looking at the deep rooted unconscious negative self-belief that I had formed about myself, I have been able to catch myself being triggered and explore these emotions and also try to understand what is the positive intention, what is this trigger protecting me from, and how can I adopt a better way to express myself and sit with my vulnerability.

From my therapist, one of the things we have discussed relates to embracing vulnerability and living our authentic selves, to do this the first part of the journey has been about diving deep into my unconscious, looking at my past and my experiences and exploring the dark deep parts of myself. Whilst on this journey, I have gained a clearer insight into where the triggers come from and what limiting beliefs I have about myself, I am still swimming in my unconscious and I am still learning to understand all parts of myself. On this journey I am embracing my vulnerability, I am learning to walk alongside the pain, the trauma and the triggers and find ways in which to be grateful for my triggers rather than fall into the darkness and lose control of my emotional wellbeing.

What triggers us, is what makes us vulnerable, yet in society we are told to hide this vulnerability, hide our emotions and suppress them especially in public. We live in a world where we have been programmed that if we show emotions and show vulnerability we are weak, this truly resonates with me personally as my life script has always been “I have to be strong” never allowing others to see my vulnerability, so we hide our true selves from the world and eventually from ourselves.

All of these hidden emotions are suppressed deep into our unconscious, they now live in our physiology, we don't know how to express them, we may not even have conscious awareness that they are there as we have ignored them for so long. Over the years we form habits, and behaviours, we almost create our own triggers, these triggers are the reactions we have, the emotions that burst out, and finally our beach ball of emotions and suppressed feelings resurfaces and smacks us in the face. Until this point we accept our triggers as just who we are, we continue with the habits and the triggers continue, but what if we stopped and asked ourselves why did that make me feel that way, why did I choose to react that way, what is the positive intention of this protective strategy I have employed?.

That brings me to understanding the positive intention of our triggers, if we think about our experiences as a beach ball, over the years we push things down, we hide how we feel, we suppress our vulnerability. Eventually our beach ball smacks us in the face and it brings pain, grief, loss, release and relief almost, after all it has been tiring constantly pushing down that dam beach ball. Being vulnerable and being authentic, means being honest with your beach ball, and when we understand our limits and set boundaries, this can allow ourselves to feel without judgement, looking at our triggers and asking ourselves what is the positive intention of that emotion?.

From my therapist to you, a few questions to ask yourself when you want to explore your triggers and your unconscious self-beliefs, and see what the positive intention is for you.

1. What has triggered you? What or who upset you? How were your own behaviours or thoughts? Are you judging yourself or others? What protective patterns or defensive patterns are you displaying? Are you criticising, controlling, withdrawing from or aiming to save the situation?

2.What are the emotions and feelings that you are experiencing? Look deeper for the less obvious feelings, do you feel anger, frustration, guilt, resentment, disappointment? Now what core feeling does this relate to, is it fear, sadness, pain or hurt?

3.Where in your body do you feel this feeling? Can you see what vulnerability your trigger is trying to protect?

4. When can you remember first feeling this feeling? What conscious or unconscious belief do you have about yourself?

5.What do you think is the positive intention of this belief about yourself is?

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