Feeling Trapped? Part 2
Updated: Jul 24, 2020
What Triggers You?
Hello everyone!! Welcome back to Taking My Own Advice! This week we will be talking about, "triggers!" In the last article we talked about identifying what makes us feel trapped in our lives and how we can be more graceful about dealing with the difficult emotions. In this part of the exercise, let's discuss how moments in our life can make us feel trapped or jolt us into memories. This "jolting" is often referred to as being "triggered." People can be triggered by many different things and that has to do with their own personal experience. For me, triggers are often a crowd of people, a scary movie, a song that is too loud, old photos, or something someone said. A trigger can even be too much time on your hands which we are all experiencing now. Let's hop into this exercise and find some healing together!
Step 1: Find Out What Triggers You
Purpose: The purpose of this step is to go over specific situations where you felt triggered and pinpoint that exact moment by retracing your steps.
Experience: Have you ever found yourself really angry (insert any other intense emotion here) for no reason? I am a fire sign and I am pretty sure that 75% of my life is spent angry. I personally find myself triggered more easily into anger than any other emotion.That has given me a lot of practice with pinpointing why I am angry. Most of the time I may be hurt or sad about something totally unrelated to what triggered me to be angry in the first place. Retracing my steps, helps me find that moment and realizing that I am not angry at all. Maybe I am disappointed, embarrassed, or I feel that something was unfair. Finding that moment has really helped me look at the initial stimulus of my anger, dissect it and find what the true cause of my emotion was. Sometimes my anger was actually triggered by something really silly and ruined my day. Therefore, when I can find the true cause, I can handle and understand myself better.
Question: How do you handle it when you get triggered? How do you recover?
Action: The next time you have an intense emotion about something, try to remember the first moment you felt it. You can use this language: "I am feeling angry, when did I first start feeling angry?"
Step 2: Work Through Resurgent Memories
Purpose: The purpose of this step is to find the reason why you may be triggered to think about specific memories. If you find yourself thinking about certain times in your life over and over, your mind may be telling you that these memories are something important for you to work through.
Experience: Have you ever had a really low point in your life? Something you are really not proud of that always comes back to haunt you? Yeah, I think we all have moments like that. It is not easy to deal with a memory that keeps resurfacing. These memories easily become blockages and they do not allow us to grow or move from a certain place in our growth. Sometimes we need to give these memories the space to teach us. Writing something out with the intention of gaining new information about yourself, can be healing and can free us from these memories.
While I was pursuing my Bachelor's in Psychology I learned that one of the treatments for PTSD(and other trauma based disorders) was Cognitive Processing Therapy. The way this therapy works, is a patient will come in and talk about their traumatic experiences. The psychologist will work through the points of trauma and what the patient now believes to be true because of that experience. Then they would identify those points together to work through them by restructuring those thoughts. The patient's thinking would then develop into thoughts that can heal them.
Some examples of thoughts that can stunt our growth could be: "I will never be good enough. It's always my fault." Phobias, issues with self-esteem, depression and larger problems stem from thoughts that we have developed from our experiences. These thoughts can stunt our mental and emotional growth. These are a few examples I thought of that could lead to more growth oriented thinking: "I may have made a mistake, but that does not mean I should stop trying. There are some situations that are out of my control."
Question: What memories do you linger on? Are there some memories in your life that you wish you could forget?
Action: Write down your traumas or the memories that haunt you with the intention of acceptance. This is something that happened in your life that made you who you are. As you are writing this down, think of the effect this event had on you and ask yourself why your mind keeps bringing it to your attention.
Step 3: Be Present
Purpose: The purpose of this step is to take some time out for yourself to become more aware of your body, mind and soul. This way you can be more open to your dreams, what you value in life, and what you want to become.
Experience: Staying inside on your phone and only watching tv, will make you crazy. Why is that? Aside from the fact that humans need to be active, moving, and social, have you ever thought about our need to think for ourselves? Whenever you scroll through a feed, watch the news, listen to music, read a book, watch a video, or yes even read this blog; you get information from someone else. Social media is not inherently bad or wrong. However, more often than not we use social media as an escape. Purposelessness is extremely damaging to the human psyche and we do not have to save the world to have a purpose. All we need to do is be more present. Take time to see the world, see people and see ourselves. We are only here for a limited amount of time and this crisis has only proven that. Take out the time to be with yourself and work through your triggers so that you can move on and flourish in this beautiful life we still have.
Question: What time of the day do you take out for yourself?
Action: Time how many minutes you spend on your phone everyday and try to reduce it.
If you would like read more about what Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is, feel free to click here. https://deploymentpsych.org/treatments/cognitive-processing-therapy-cpt
This website, along with my book from college, Casebook in Abnormal Psychology p. 60, Second Edition by Timothy A. Brown and David H. Barlow, were the references I used to write this article. If you feel that you are being triggered more than you can control or are being haunted by your traumas, do not hesitate to contact your local therapist. There are also many counseling apps out there that are more affordable and convenient.
Thank you so much for reading today's article on Taking My Own Advice. I hope this has encouraged you to take the first steps in listening to your own instinct and believing in your own hopes, dreams, goals, and opinions. Please feel free to comment your thoughts and stories below and I will see you in two weeks for our next article!