Dealing with Triggers

Updated: Sep 3

On the Mark With Your Mental Health has offered many tools for adapting, healing and dealing with emotional turmoil, stress and other day to day challenges. As these tools are applied to real life we get particularly important practice at caring for ourselves in an empowering way.


These same tools can help us realize and correct the way we deal with triggers. We will continue to fill your toolbox with applicable ways you can handle wild emotions.


What is a trigger?


A trigger is a past experience that is incredibly personal, that brings forth an emotional response. The trigger oftentimes taps into a painful or traumatic memory, or an addiction.


Unfortunately, avoidance is a common response to feeling triggered. This can result in living a less full life, and make problem solving particularly difficult. Feeling triggered can so easily negate positivity, leaving you tail spinning back to poor habits, and feeling anxious, depressed, sad and, or panicked.


Responding to Triggers


Name Your Triggers


When you can name your triggers, you can come up with a plan on how to handle your triggers. Triggers do not have to end with devastation. By naming your triggers you will be able to more easily see what has happened and keep it separate from what affects you personally.


Keep a Trigger Log


Write down your triggers and also write down your reactions to those triggers. When you write down your triggers write them down as if they could happen to anyone, as if they are a given of life itself. Following the entries, write a reminder to yourself that you have many options in how you respond. This begins to serve as a reminder that you do not have to fall back into habitual patterns. This is the move from compulsion to freedom. This practice will eventually lead to freedom from fear.


What’s the Source of the Trigger?


When you find the source of your trigger, you are essentially freeing yourself from trauma. When you start to address trauma, you also start to step into your personal power and find resolution. You are not separate from your trauma, acknowledge it as your own, and make your way down the path of healing.


You Are Your Own Worst Critic


Your inner critic does not have to be your worst enemy, but it can instead start to serve as a reminder for spiritual practice like that of loving-kindness. Find an opposing affirmation and when the inner critic is loud, step into your affirmation with vigilance. You do not have to participate in the inner critic dialogue. By putting the aforementioned into practice you begin to use your inner critic to skillfully evolve.


Your inner dialogue can be empowering and help build self-esteem but this requires consciously letting your inner critic dialogue move toward positivity and affirmation. You must first find understanding for yourself and your flaws. Continue to remind yourself that you can handle whatever happens.


You Are Not Alone


Do not believe that you are alone. The people you trust and admire have triggers and when you realize you are not alone, your triggers lose power.


Share with someone you trust.


Dealing with triggers is challenging, but it is vital to understand and keep in mind that your perception precedes your reaction. It takes practice to be able to be honest about the present moment and to not be triggered by the past.


Living behind triggers can give you a limited view. These questions can help you get in touch with your higher self and help you start to address your triggers:


  • What else could this behavior mean?

  • What is going on with the person who is triggering me? Do they have a lot going on in their life that I may not be aware of?

  • Do I have a lot going on that I haven’t taken into consideration?

  • How could love or understanding change this situation?

  • Does the reason I am triggered actually have to do with the person in front of me?


If you want to see more clearly, you can. Compassion, understanding, and the desire to be more conscious will help prevent escalation or miscommunication.


© 2020 by Markesha Miller, Ph.D.