Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Rayna
A trigger is a trauma response. It happens when a current experience “triggers” your brain to remember a trauma from the past and then your body responds the same way it did when the original trauma occurred. If you have experienced this then you know how much it sucks!! I personally did not understand triggers (and how much I was experiencing them in my everyday life!) until my counselor was explaining it to me as I was telling her my issues. It was an “aha” moment for sure.
Everyone seems to be talking about triggers now. You’ll be in a conversation with almost strangers and someone will comment, “Oh, that triggers me!” Let’s talk about triggers and how you can not only recognize them but also overcome them with the help of Jesus.
My prayer is that this article will encourage you to look at your pain so that you can have victory in this area of your life.
Recognizing A Trigger
You can recognize a trigger by evaluating yourself when you experience an unmerited emotional response to a situation. Here are some examples of how you could get triggered:
- Witnessing someone who is being hurt or is in distress
- Seeing someone act out in anger (i.e. road rage or seeing a couple fight)
- Feeling controlled by someone in your life
- Being pressured in some way
- Feeling criticized in an area of your life
- Being singled out in a group
What You Experience During A Trigger
When we are triggered we are experiencing the emotions related to the original trauma. This is the past trauma rearing its ugly head in your present life. Your physical response is similar to what it would be like if you were back in the past in that moment. That’s why usually we have a big reaction to something that doesn’t necessarily merit that response.
Your inner child comes out when you are triggered. You will find that your response is usually that of a child the age you were when the trauma happened. For example, if you’re an adult fighting with your husband and he triggers you then you may respond like a 16 year old teenager. If you respond to the argument by yelling curse words and running out of the room then that is the response of a teenager as opposed to a healthy adult. If this happens to you (and it most certainly has happened to me!) then I want to encourage you to ask yourself why you responded that way.
You may be surprised at how quickly you answer yourself. The key here is to ask yourself the question and listen for the response. A memory may surface or a set of feelings that you used to stuff may come up. Stay in that place and let yourself go to the memory. Ask Jesus to help you in this area. He’s with us always and He’s just waiting for us to ask Him for help.
Working Through A Trigger
To work through your trigger I recommend doing these three things in the triggered moment:
- Explore your surroundings
- Pause before responding
- Evaluate your options
When you are triggered it is a great opportunity to explore your surroundings. Ask yourself what emotions you are feeling, what memory is being accessed, and what physical responses you are having in your body. Write them down. Using the notes on your phone is a great option for this because you can easily record these things while you’re on the go.
Next, you should pause and evaluate. Stop everything and pause before you respond. In the past, you may have responded by running away from the situation (if you have a flight response) or engaging in a confrontation (if you have a fight response). As you learn to work through your trigger you can freeze the moment then evaluate your options before responding in a way that you my regret.
Instead of running or starting conflict just absorb the environment. Ask yourself if your response is equal to the event that happened. Would someone else who did not have this trauma respond the same way? If your answer is no, then you know you are having a triggered response.
Remember you have a choice in how you respond. By pausing and evaluating you are stopping the cycle of automatically responding. You can ask yourself why do I respond like this? These simple tasks will help you to work through the trigger.
How To Overcome A Trigger
You can overcome any trigger with the help of Jesus. Invite Him in to help you through the simple prayer, “Help me in this trigger, Jesus.” You will be amazed by how much can change just by calling on the name of Jesus.
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’Jeremiah 33:3, NIV
Triggers can make us dissociate, which is essentially us checking out because we don’t think we can handle it. Give yourself a moment to “get back” to yourself. When the trigger is over you will probably find that you are more yourself and you can think clearly and communicate what you need. While in the trigger these simple tasks feel almost impossible because your brain is overloaded with trying to get to a safe place.
Trusting Yourself With A Trigger
Learn how to self soothe when you are in a triggered state. This could look like taking out your journal and writing down your feelings. You can use my guided journals or just write in a blank journal. Or you could let yourself cry to get the emotion out. I highly recommend taking a break from whatever you are doing in that moment and stepping away from the situation. Maybe you could take a walk or make a phone call to someone you trust.
Now that you know what a trigger is and how you can respond to that trigger, you can trust yourself with it. Trusting yourself is they key to conquering this area of your life. You can get triggered AND you can respond appropriately. This is because you are now responding as your adult self. To learn more about emotional healing read my blog on the 7 Steps for Emotional Healing.
To start praying about where you need emotional healing read my blog on The Healing Process.
Did this blog post speak to your heart? I hope so! Sign up today to receive my emails featuring the latest from Seeking Him Today by going to our Stay In Touch page.