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What are triggers? They are anything that sets you into an old, defensive pattern or behavior habit to protect yourself from a particular situation or person. Triggers are created as a safety measure to insure that we either seek pleasurable experiences or avoid uncomfortable, painful recreations of the past.

Have you ever experienced being in a conversation with a family member or spouse, feeling joy and happiness, only to have that person say something or do something that elicits a sense of panic, worry, or anger? Why does your body respond this way? Many times it is due to your past experiences with that person, which you are reacting to. Your body and mind remembers what happened in the past, which either sends warning signals or happy signals.

The statement, “It’s all in your mind” is very true, because many times you can recreate a particular scenario based upon a past experience that has nothing to do with the present moment or situation you are in. It’s truly amazing how the mind can literally play tricks on you; construct and reinforce substantiated truths to justify why you are feeling a certain way. The activation of triggers are caused by any energetic charge created by past events, and that sets off a chain of events in your mind, in essence, to protect you from further discomfort or pain.

Learn to recognize and appreciate your triggers as a short-term strategy that once served you positively in your life. Until this charge, positive or negative, is brought back into balance, it will lay dormant waiting for the next opportunity to seize the moment to arise and defend you. The same can be said for déjà vu, when something feels so eerily familiar or almost similar to that same situation or particular place you have experienced before. The mind is an expert armed with all your past memories and experiences stored in the body, which then sets the stage for any particular trigger to be activated.

The most important thing that can help you navigate a trigger, is being mindful and aware. Anytime you sense something’s off, or an emotion is evoked, the quicker you can become an observer of your mind’s created scenarios and feelings that come rushing in, the better off you will be. Understanding your triggers and your behavior patterns go a long way in helping you break certain constructs and create more beneficial behaviors that help engender communication and balance. The more you stay in your emotions, the harder it is for you to rationalize and deal with the elicited trigger. What I have experienced and learned is that emotions are one-sided, incomplete perceptions. Once you can see both sides to the experience, you are more equipped to diffuse your emotions and become more balanced.

The reason why emotions are one-sided perceptions is that once you are angry, all you can see is red, and your mind will constantly create and deliver more thoughts to justify why you are angry. The mind will scan and reproduce all the evidence needed to keep you angry at the person or particular situation that you feel is happening “to” you. The most difficult thing to do, is to shift your mind to seeing how everything that happens in your life, happens for you and never to you. By shifting this perspective, you no longer stay in victim mode, but can embrace the situation and take responsibility for what is going on.

I have recognized over time that until you can see that everything that happens in life is truly an opportunity and gift to balance out your perspectives, embracing the part you played in any interaction or situation is key in helping you navigate the experience. It is truly the most difficult thing to admit and see the benefits of any challenging person or situation, and seeing your role in the whole creation and evolution of the experience. Keep in mind that taking a victim role either in a relationship or your own healing process prevents you from truly becoming empowered and living the life you desire. Take time to reflect on the challenges in your life, list them all out, and then find the silver lining to each of the perceived challenges. This can be a life changer. Connect with your body’s signals, as it assists in notifying you of when you are in tune and when you are not.

1 Comment
  1. Koichi 8 years ago

    Thank you for that, Chad. It’s been a long journey, but being aware what you are doing is the first step.
    I’ve recently come across a podcast by Mike Mandel, that spoke specifically to triggers and how to diffuse the charge. Just being conscious of the steps has made a big shift!
    And acknowledging what is happening is so important as you mentioned.
    Mahalo for all the wisdom you bring.

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