“Triggers”. The word is hard to ignore, especially when it has become so prevalent in social media, news and so many articles regarding the parent/child dynamic. And while I am not a licensed therapist, I base my understanding of what a trigger is on my personal therapeutic journey.
I know I have triggers. These are the result of my childhood traumas at the hands of those who were supposed to care for me, to provide a safe place, to love me unconditionally.
But, here’s the thing. The fact that I am triggered is not an excuse for me to demand that others change their behaviours so that I am no longer triggered. That I have an overwhelming emotional response to someone else’s actions, or something I read, or anything else external to me is not the fault of that external stimulus. It is MY responsibility, once I notice that overwhelming emotional response, to understand what in MY experience has created the response. Then, once again, it is MY responsibility to heal from that experience and free myself from the conditioning that reinforces the triggering cycle.
It’s not easy. In fact, it can take years to unravel what our triggers are because so much of it is unconscious. Someone says something, and we bristle to the point of anger. My kids won’t “listen” to me, and I feel like a parenting failure. My husband and I disagree and I feel attacked and unlovable. And, these “triggers” cause me to behave in ways that are destructive to my relationships, and to myself.
The critical piece is taking responsibility, not for what happened, but what I choose to do about it in the now. By taking responsibility, I respond rather than react. And, that mindfulness provides the freedom to live in the present, rather than reliving the trauma of my past.