Recently, I have been attending yet another trauma course. One can never know enough about trauma.
The course itself is fine. It’s quite challenging, but not challenging enough to get me super motivated. Despite that, the best thing that has come out of it so far is my awareness of my triggers.
I have been aware of many of my obvious triggers for a while. Some of them came out very early on in my life. For example, I have low empathy for people who are not courageous enough (according to my standards,) or people who are not self-aware or aware of others. Later on in my life, I discovered my triggers around relationships. These include how I find it difficult to set boundaries with certain personality types, and how I find it difficult to access my needs and voice them in a relationship (or even just believe that I have the right to have needs). I’ve also learnt that being all cool about situations, always fine with whatever happens is actually a trauma response of mine.
However, during this trauma course, I realised that I find people who need constant validation annoying–annoying on a level that requires self-reflection. Without going into explanations and childhood trauma stories, I understand where this trigger initiates. That is always just the beginning of a story, but what I decide to do with this knowledge is where the healing starts.
Here is what I do with my triggers:
Step 1 – Notice them, notice the pattern, build awareness
Step 2 – Accept these triggers and my response to them, however ugly my response may seem. For example, I recognise judging people based on my expectations of courage is pretty harsh, but judging myself for that response won’t help.
Step 3 – Find the origin of the trigger. This step is not necessary in order to work with the trigger, but most of us find it helpful.
Step 4 – Sit with the uncomfortable sensation without trying to make it go away or get myself too caught up in it. Every time I notice a trigger, I approach it with curiosity, as a bystander. “Interesting, here it is again,” I think to myself, without judgment. I watch my reactions to the event.
Step 5 – Keep practising Step 4. Yes, that’s it: no magic pill or magic formula to getting rid of the trigger. You don’t need fixing. Instead, it is more about accepting and monitoring your triggers with a certain amount of detachment.
The process is simple enough, but not always easy to do. The person on this trauma course (one of the course leaders, actually) who annoyed me with their need for constant validation, developed this need for a reason. Who am I to judge that? So, I instead just watch myself getting annoyed with some amusement.
However, sometimes your annoyance has nothing to do with you and your triggers, sometimes you might have just met an asshole. But this is where discernment comes in: knowing what is yours and what isn’t.
If you need some support in learning how to identify your own triggers, Centrd Life hosts free monthly online workshops that will allow you to better identify, understand, and regulate your emotions. We’re here to support you on your own journey to self-awareness.