Ways To Cope With Triggers

Anyone who has suffered trauma knows about triggers.  They are something that reminds you of past trauma & can leave you feeling very shaken up.

Triggers can be such a miserable thing to experience!  They feel like there is no reason for them when you’re going through them, but I believe they actually have a purpose.

When you are healed in a specific area, you can experience a trigger, & although it certainly isn’t pleasant, it isn’t devastating either.  It reminds me of what it feels like when you remember a nightmare.  Unpleasant but not terribly upsetting.

When you aren’t healed in some area however, that is when triggers can be helpful.  They show you the areas where you need some healing.   Paying attention to exactly what emotions you feel can be an excellent start to heal in this area.

When you’re triggered, I firmly believe it’s wise to consider exactly what you felt & why you felt it in order to heal.  For example, were you angered because you felt invalidated, powerless, ignored, or disrespected?  Did you feel shame because you felt judged, unimportant, or mocked?  Were you hurting because you felt excluded, unloved or as if no one cared at all about you?

Once you realize the root of your feelings, you can heal.  What helps me if I’m unsure why I feel what I do is to ask God to show me the root of this feeling.  Where did this start?  Usually then I remember some incident from a long time ago that shows me where the problem began.  Once I remember that, I try to remember everything possible about that incident, even seemingly unimportant details like what clothes I was wearing.  I also try to feel all the feelings associated with it, as difficult as that may be.  The more thoroughly an incident can be remembered, I believe the more healing takes place.  The more healing that happens, the less you will experience triggers like this in the future.

One important thing to remember is when you do this, take breaks.  Emotional healing is very difficult & painful work.  It also doesn’t happen quickly.  Because of these factors, it can get to be too much sometimes, especially when the trauma is extremely bad.  When those times happen, it’s best to take a break.  Stop focusing on your healing & focus on something else that has absolutely nothing to do with the trauma for a little while.  You need to put your emotions in a box on a shelf for a time, & take some time to do something fun.  Watch a movie, read, work on a craft, snuggle your furkids, spend time with a good friend sharing some laughs… whatever you do, make sure it is lighthearted & fun.  If it can make you laugh, all the better.  After you have relaxed & feel less overwhelmed, when you get back to working on your healing, you will be in a better frame of mind to do so.

Triggers can be difficult to deal with, I know.  Frankly, they just stink.  However, they can be a very helpful tool in your mental & emotional healing.  Why not use them that way & make the pain they cause count for something?

6 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

6 responses to “Ways To Cope With Triggers

  1. “I try to remember everything possible about that incident, even seemingly unimportant details like what clothes I was wearing. I also try to feel all the feelings associated with it, as difficult as that may be. The more thoroughly an incident can be remembered, I believe the more healing takes place.”

    Yes! You got this exactly right. My daughter, who lives in Washington state, is a newly licensed therapist. I was talking with her recently about my stepdaughter, who witnessed a very bad trauma a couple of weeks ago (she was first on the scene of a neighbor’s house fire and found a burn victim who was barely alive). I asked my daughter if she had any advice on how my husband and I can help her stepsister to process this trauma.

    My daughter said that one of the most important things she learned in her studies at Whitworth University, where she got her master’s degree in counseling last year, was that when we think about and talk about a trauma, we need to remember all of the details, from beginning to end.

    “It’s when we only focus on parts of what happened, that the trauma gets stuck and isn’t fully processed,” she said. “In order to keep that from happening, we need to tell the story starting at the very beginning, and going all the way through to the end.”

    It’s amazing, Cynthia, how you instinctively figured that out!!

    Speaking of my therapist daughter, would you please say a prayer for her? She saw her doctor yesterday and had three biopsies done. The doctor told my daughter yesterday that she needs to have a hysterectomy very soon, because the cells that were found in her pap smear last week are just one step below full blown cancer. The doctor is going to remove most of my daughter’s cervix next week in a procedure at her medical office. But because of all the coronavirus cases at the hospitals there in Washington, the hysterectomy will have to be postponed awhile.

    That’s why I didn’t reply to this comment yesterday when I first read and liked it. I was too worried about my daughter to think clearly enough to formulate my reply. But this morning, after doing a lot of praying, I am much more hopeful.

    Thank you, Cynthia. I love your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my word.. I am so sorry about your stepdaughter’s recent trauma. That is terrible! Thank God your daughter has learned how to cope with trauma & can help you, help her!

      And thank you for sharing what you did. You helped me get validation that I’m on the right track with all of this! THANK YOU!! It always helps because although I know these things I share help me, I think they’ll help others, but there’s always doubt, yanno?

      Of course!! I prayed for your daughter! Keep me posted on how things go with her if you don’t mind?

      Thank you!! You’re too kind! For the record.. .I love your blog too! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. annealcroft

    “When you’re triggered, I firmly believe it’s wise to consider exactly what you felt & why you felt it in order to heal. For example, were you angered because you felt invalidated, powerless, ignored, or disrespected? Did you feel shame because you felt judged, unimportant, or mocked? Were you hurting because you felt excluded, unloved or as if no one cared at all about you?”

    The adjectives you use here, Cynthia, so powerfully describe the triggers; invalidated, powerless, ignored, disrespected, judged, unimportant, mocked. Oh, yes, all of the above!

    Yesterday a friend going through a daunting situation settling her mother’s estate sent me a podcast by Dr. Laura, who says we are “sh*t” for them [our abuser(s)]. It is always those who care the most who are undervalued the most.

    I find that to be one of the big triggers, realizing as Cynthia points out, that there is no doubt that my family sees me as “unimportant” and am learning how to pray for humility to strengthen my character in order to heal this trigger. Our Beloved Savior never retaliated. He was meek.

    In his book titled “The Cross and The Beatitudes; lessons on love and forgiveness,” Archbishop Fulton Sheen, writes, “Now consider the anger of the meek man. For the meek man, not selfishness but righteousness is his guiding principle….Only the principles of God’s righteousness arouse a meek person.” He then goes on to say that Jesus Christ is “angry only when holiness is attacked, but never when his Person is attacked.”

    No, Jesus never retaliates when His Person is attacked in any way. He pleads forgiveness for his abusers as He hangs crucified on His Cross. “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

    Recently, my triggers have gone off the charts realizing my father has been giving his girlfriend my mother’s beautiful antique jewelry and the very worst, an amethyst cross and chain I gave her for Mother’s Day a few years before she died. It is not only the disrespect of my mother’s memory, but that my father’s behavior has to do with the fact that my father sold his soul to Satan — his girlfriend. The woman who he began an affair with long before my mother died, who was still married at the time my father began his affair. Not only still married, but re-married to the same man she divorced! Her own daughter tried committing suicide not once, but FOUR times. I have served witness as my father has turned into a shadow of himself, a cowardly, effeminate, self-centered fop who is an adulterer, a liar, a thief, an abuser, a pervert and even a murderer. It is difficult to find the good there.

    So as Cynthia says, “I try to remember everything possible about that incident, even seemingly unimportant details like what clothes I was wearing. I also try to feel all the feelings associated with it, as difficult as that may be.”

    Through these recent triggers, I’ve been reliving my very first memory of when my father beat me. I was about 3 years old. I remember vividly how I felt that night when I tried to sleep. I remember the print of the quilt on my bed. I remember vividly, I can still hear my mother screaming, “Charlie, stop, stop, you’re going to kill her!” I remember seeing my sister cowering in the corner, and then I passed out. That was the first memory I have of the beatings. Why didn’t my mother take her little girls and leave him? His beatings didn’t stop until I at last left the house when I married at 20 and went from a troubled home-life to a troubled marriage.

    Recently, when I asked a dear friend who has been through a similar situation with her father what she would do about the amethyst cross and chain that I gave my mother that my father gave to his girlfriend, she said, ‘BANISH IT. Banish it completely from your life.”

    There is no choice but to go no contact. Why, oh why, does it take such genuine wrath to reach the point that we step over these people who have damaged us for life, so it seems. Think of our Savior! Though he overcame death, His scars are indelible.

    Over the past few days, since the COVID ordeal, I have sent my father a couple of emails with links to articles though he has not responded. I have no idea if he’s okay or not, and obviously if he is, he couldn’t care less if I am. Yes, Dr. Laura is right, we are “sh*t” for them.

    My anger is the result of righteous indignation, that my father was willing to destroy the holiness and integrity of his entire family all for folly and cheap thrills. No woman who cares about a man would seduce him into committing adultery, nor would she accept the jewelry of his deceased wife when he has two daughters she is well aware this rightfully belongs to. Unless she is absolutely stupid she must realize where this jewelry comes from. I believe he is also giving her money. God only knows what else she has coerced him to do. Sin is a slippery slide.

    Anger gets the best of us when we do retaliate, and later realize that though my words are true, they are also caustic, thus giving the devil cause to point his accusing finger at us as “abuser.” Even though it is righteous indignation, the task as Jesus Christ teaches in His Beatitudes is to leave the wrath to Him.

    Ultimately, it is when righteousness and all that is good is poisoned, and we are painfully aware that the abuses of the narcissists in our lives are inspired by egotism, greed, and wrath born of their self-love, that we can only release the injustice to God and each time we do, less and less of the malignancy is left for us to have to process.

    “Forgive them, God. They know not what they do.”

    “What a lesson for us to remember: that those who do us harm, may, too, be of the same type of misguided consciences as those who crucified Christ.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it incredible, realizing just how little you mean to an abuser?! Especially when that abuser is your own parent. It’s impossible to truly comprehend for a normal person who values people in their life.

      I wonder if the reason it takes such wrath is because God didn’t design us to deal with such nonsense. He made us for healthy & loving relationships. We weren’t created to deal with things like abuse & death. That’s why they’re so incredibly hard to handle. Not sure if that’s correct or not, but it’s the only theory I have. And, another thought here, being human, we aren’t as perfect as Jesus no matter how hard we try until we get to Heaven. We WILL face things He wouldn’t have felt like the extreme anger at our abusers. He was able to forgive easier than us because we aren’t perfect. We can forgive but it takes us some work & time, unlike Him.

      Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (KJV)

      Liked by 2 people

      • annealcroft

        My goodness, Cynthia! Your words need to be carefully unpacked! Wow!

        Cynthia: “Isn’t it incredible, realizing just how little you mean to an abuser?! Especially when that abuser is your own parent. It’s impossible to truly comprehend for a normal person who values people in their life.”

        AA: You’ve just hit the nail square on its head. Incredible. Yes. That is the only word for it. Incredible. I think that is why the trauma. Because the abuse is incredible. We literally hold the abuse at a cellular level. The damage inflicted by the abuser (and their flying monkeys) is exponential. NOTHING reaches these people. Even a tragedy they exploit for their own gain. And sadly, they always seem to have their legions of flying monkeys who swallow every word they say because they are too stupid to think for themselves. That’s why the world is in the mess its in right now.

        Cynthia: “I wonder if the reason it takes such wrath is because God didn’t design us to deal with such nonsense. He made us for healthy & loving relationships. We weren’t created to deal with things like abuse & death. That’s why they’re so incredibly hard to handle. Not sure if that’s correct or not, but it’s the only theory I have.”

        AA: Cynthia, you’ve touched upon something here that is very important for us to be able to fathom abuse and why we need to incorporate Biblical teachings to be able to fully comprehend the fabric of humanity. What can possibly explain narcissism better than what happened at the Garden of Eden?! God gives us free will to make choices. Love is of God. The bite of the apple forfeited the integrity of free will to Satan.

        To fathom a father, by nature, sacrificing his own daughter for sin, blasphemy, and even the salvation of his own soul, is indeed incredible. C-PTSD! Oh, yeah!

        The saving grace is when we realize that our ONLY recourse is, in the words of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, “Clint to the Sacred Heart, and leave all the rest to Him.” Because if we don’t, we subscribe to idolatry and allow Satan to occupy our soul. Get thee hence Satan!

        Cynthia:” “Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (KJV)”

        AA: Amen! Blessings, Dear Cynthia! Thank you!

        Always remember —- No cross, no crown!

        Liked by 2 people

        • YES YES YES!!! To all you said. I honestly can’t even add anything to it, so please pardon my lack of response to your comment. It’s not because your comment lacked anything. You said it all & said it perfectly! ❤

          Like

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