"Let's face it, without triggers, we are better decision makers, more present in our relationships, and have a higher quality of life. If you're anything like me, you read that sentence and think, ""How do I live without ever feeling triggered?"" Logic is a beautiful thing. While this thought has merit, it takes a long time and a pile of maturity to reach that point, but there is a much more critical step that must take place first.
I personally believe it is possible to reach a point where you are rarely triggered. This is the by-product of self-care, time, processing, maturity, development, and re-conditioning your nervous system. The way you get there is by learning to manage your triggers first. In other words, the initial goal is not to eliminate triggers, but rather to mitigate our response to being triggered.
Let me illustrate with an example. Let's say that I walk down the street and see an attractive woman who looks like a porn star that I used to frequent. While I wish my brain would not make those connections, it happens before I can even do anything about it.
There are 4 different categories of response here depending on where are you in the recovery journey:
Stage 1 - If you are just starting out, you may beat yourself up and self-condemn/criticize for having those terrible thoughts. Essentially, you are evoking shame.
Stage 2 - If you've made some progress, you may be able to acknowledge what is going on, avoid self-condemning, but still linger too long in the thoughts.
Stage 3 - As you start to heal, you'll find that these moments happen less frequently, and when they do you're able to dissipate the situation pretty quickly before it develops into something worse.
Stage 4 - When you have fully matured, you'll find that these moments rarely take place. You can experience stimulus that would have ordinarily been triggering but your brain no longer goes to those places because it has been rewired.
If you are in Stages 1-3, I want to provide you with a few pro tips for effectively managing triggers.
In The Moment
When you catch yourself triggered, here are a few things you can do immediately that will help:
-Take a deep belly breath. This is going to re-engage the parts of your brain that make good decisions.
-Change your environment. Walk out of the room.
-Welcome God into the moment. You'd be amazed at how quickly this slows down your brain.
These are a few things to get you started in the process.
After The Moment
When you have a bit more time, here are a few things you can do to learn from the experience:
-Journal about it. Specifically, ask yourself, ""Why was I triggered?""
-Talk to someone about it
-Describe what feeling triggered felt like in your body
-Identify the key needs and emotions that were at play when you were triggered
This is going to build a trigger profile – something that gives you clear indicators of how you respond when you're triggered and what is required to talk you down as quickly as possible.
Cheering you on,
Join our mailing list to receive the latest on addiction recovery including success stories, FAQs, clinical findings, and practical tools you can apply TODAY.