Ever get really annoyed, sad, angry or frustrated by a particular song, or scent, or something random and not sure why? You may be experiencing a trigger. Triggers can come from all kinds of things, and usually stem from traumatic experiences. That’s right, you could be reacting to stress in a negative way because of your past.
Our Atlanta counselors like to educate clients about the brain, because it has a lot to do with triggers. The brain is an interesting thing. When we experience a trauma, little or big, the brain can have difficulty with storing the memory effectively. So, it ends up keeping the memory around (whether we’re conscious of it or not) and that memory gets bumped up against. That causes a negative reaction. Often times the bumps can come from triggers that are paired with the memory.
Triggers can be sensory (think about the 5 senses), auditory, visual, internal (feelings and thoughts) and external. They can be people, places, things, and experiences. They’re tricky, and if we aren’t aware of them we are more susceptible to actually being triggered by them.
Once you identify your triggers you’re more prepared to deal with them. Dealing with triggers may involve avoiding them altogether, coping with them, or working on re-framing how you view them. In a perfect world, it’s ideal to not get triggered at all and that’s where therapy can help.
If you want to begin working this, you can begin by working on your self-awareness. When did the bothersome feeling start? What was happening? What were you hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, or smelling? Who was around? Were you reminded of anyone or anything? When was the first time in your life you felt this way? Start becoming more aware of exactly what’s triggering you. Then, when you’re likely to face the trigger again you can prepare yourself. You can cope. You can avoid. You can reframe your thoughts on that trigger.
Obviously all of this sounds really easy, but not all triggers are easy to overcome. That’s where a therapist can help. Our team of Atlanta counselors have worked with many people who have experienced little and big traumas. We work in your treatment to individualize based on your needs.