It’s been one of those weeks this week, where I noticed a theme in the women I spoke to. Many of them where feeling ‘triggered’ and as a result kind of thrown. I know the feeling too as I went through quite a triggering time a few months ago where i was being set off day after day.
So what does it mean to be triggered?
Triggered explains the sensation when we seem to get set off by someone or something. This thing becomes a ‘trigger’ that starts feelings or emotions for us, usually we only really feel triggered when it sparks undesirable feelings like fear, anger, frustration, panic. The thing has to be some sort of thought that happens between taking in the trigger and having the emotion. For myself, i’ve noticed I can go long periods being completely fine, not triggered by anything and then something that has never affected me before, raises up. Something that I’ve seen or experienced many times before, with no reaction, will suddenly be setting me off. I’ll find I’m in a new pattern of being triggered by the thing, which then sets off undesirable feelings, which sets me off into a cycle of negative thoughts and emotions. This is completely normal, it happens to all of us.
Things that I personally have felt triggered by include:
- Conversations with family members
- Seeing the success of others in their online businesses
- Watching the lives of others on social media
- Friends succeeding or going after their dream
- Someone else’s opinion of us (which they may breezily share)
- Partners – do they know how to push our buttons?!
- Seeing ex-partners lives and them move on
Here’s what I noticed about my own patterns of being triggered. It wasn’t that I was jealous, or wanted to be them, but, I did notice it came down to a feeling of being frustrated. They were getting, achieving or having something I wanted and making it look easy. It set me off into my own pool of woe, comparison, not enough, not fair and why couldn’t I achieve the thing I was wanting to. The thing is, the feelings associated with the trigger, actually only came from my thinking and creating meaning about myself after I took in the trigger. The process would look something like this. Me seeing a certain woman on Facebook talking about her success in her online business, me having thoughts that stem from not being enough and thinking that perhaps this wasn’t possible for me, followed by my not so helpful feelings of frustration, anger, fear, despair.
Of course, I only noticed this when I stepped back and really observed what was going on. At the time I would just log in to social media, see this person talking about her success and feel angry and frustrated.
What to do when you’re feeling triggered
So here’s what I know about being triggered. It has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with you. If you’re being set off by other people living their lives, tooting their own horn or just being themselves, it’s time to look in the mirror. The trigger is showing you there’s something within you that wants to be looked at.
Every external trigger is an opportunity to look within. An opportunity to look at the thoughts we are thinking when we see the trigger and how they are resulting in feelings and perhaps unhelpful action.
Here are the steps I work through when I find myself in a trigger pattern.
1. The first step is noticing what’s going on.
Instead of just realising that your feeling sad, angry, frustrated or irritable again, take the time to really see what’s going on. What were you just doing/watching/thinking about when you noticed these feelings pop up. A helpful journalling prompt is; what’s triggering me?
2. If possible, remove the trigger.
For me recently I noticed it was a certain person on Facebook who was setting me off and to be honest, I don’t even know why we were friends in the first place, I simply unfriended. Facebook has great tools like, “unfollow” so you don’t see them in your feed, snooze for 30 days and of course unliking or unfriending. Instagram similar. There are times where it is harder to remove the trigger but see what the options are to create some space, tell your friend you need some time, say no to the family dinner this week, see what you can do.
3. Get curious and investigate.
Ask yourself the question – Why? Why is this person triggering me. Is it that they have something I want? A relationship? Success in their career? A growing business? Lots of travel? A family? Money? Get honest about why their triggering you. For me it always highlights a gap between where I am now and where I want to be.
4. Uplevel You.
First of all, change the way your thinking. Check out my post about limiting beliefs here. If you’re like me and this reflection has shown you that there’s something you want that’s not happening for you, plan your next step. Ask yourself if I want to get/create/achieve/have/become something, who do I need to become to get this? I love this because becoming the person you need to be to achieve the thing you want is the best journey. If I was to become the person who was getting engaged, getting a promotion, feeling abundant, starting a family, travelling the world, who would I be? Someone who believed in love, confident, felt comfortable with money, practiced unconditional love. Whatever it is, start becoming that person.
5. Take Action.
As well as becoming the person who has what you want, combine this inner work with practical steps and action. The trigger showed you there was something that you wanted, create your plan and walk your path to get it.
Has this helped? What have your triggers taught you about what you want?