A trigger is anything that invokes an intense emotional response, regardless of how someone is feeling in that moment. It is often associated with PTSD and is a very real trauma response. The emotions that are felt in a triggered heightened state are not due to the current situation or circumstances, rather the same feelings experienced during a past traumatic experience. For example, someone with severe abandonment sensitivities may react in an intense way when they feel they are losing a friend, partner and/or family member. The person experiencing the triggered event only wants to stop the intense emotions, therefore the reactions may go from “I hate you” to “don’t leave me”. While the feelings are very real, the actual cause is often unrecognized until the stimuli from the event(s) has plateaued.
So how are triggers resolved? That is a complex answer and may vary based on each specific person. Being self-aware and acknowledging there is a struggle would be a great first step. Understanding that any intense feelings which cause you to act out of your normal character would be a sign that something is amiss in a moment. Discussing those identified triggers with a trusted (and I mean trusted) friends and family would be a great second step. Being cautious as to who those triggers are discussed with is crucial, as those without good intent may use them to further harm you. A final great step would be having a plan. Whether the situation is with a loved one or at work, an exit strategy is a must so the emotional response can be identified and resolved without heightened sensations.
This article is not intended to diagnose or treat mental illness. If you are experiencing symptoms that are interfering with your day-to-day life, you are encouraged to seek professional help. If you are struggling with suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741. You are not alone!