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What Triggers Can Teach Us

"Be grateful for triggers; they point where you are not free."— Unknown

Something that I’ve talked a bit about in my blogs are my insecurities and feeling like I’m not good enough. Feeling not good enough is the root of a lot of my mental health struggles. But, I’m not drowning in them like I used to. I lose my way, I lose my footing and fall back. But, I’ve also grown a lot in the past few years and have gotten to a place where I can now recognize when I’m slipping and can address the issue in real time.

What I’m learning now more than ever is that we have triggers. A gun without a trigger is useless; but, a gun with a trigger is dangerous. The trigger is what propels the bullet forward and a trigger is also what ignites our emotional pain. So, let's say we had a rampant fire that we worked really hard to put out, but there were still a few small flames flickering, unbeknownst to us. What a trigger does is come in and add fuel to erupt those few flames into a full-blown raging fire again. If we are completely unaware during this process, all we will see is the fire and get completely lost in the extremities of our emotions. But, if we are aware, if we notice that there was a trigger that set the fire in motion, then that gives us power. It allows us to question, why were there still flames brewing beneath the surface? Why did this trigger me into feeling this way? What do I still need to heal?

So, if I’m feeling neglected and unimportant in my relationships and it’s triggering me because I felt that way in my past relationships—then my old wounds of feeling not good enough are brought to the surface. But, if I am equating the way that someone is treating me to how worthy I am, then how will I ever be at peace? If that is the way that I derive my sense of self-worth, then I will forever be at the mercy of other people, and that is no way to live. So, rather than allowing someone else’s behavior to trigger my feelings of insecurity, I need to recognize that I have these feelings of insecurity and to shower myself with love and acceptance, rather than try to seek that from the outside.

Triggers really fascinate me, but what is most interesting to me is that so many people are unaware of their triggers and move through life constantly suffering because of that. When we blame other people for even our feelings and emotions, we are taking on a victim role. And, I’m not saying that other people aren’t ever responsible for hurting us. But, if we allow them to have that power to dictate whether or not we are worthy, or if our emotional well-being is always dependent on the behaviors of other people, then we will never be free.

And, accepting someone’s behavior doesn’t mean that we have to accept mistreatment and live with it. I remember the time in a past relationship when I finally surrendered and gave up on trying to control my boyfriend’s behavior. It was at that moment that I realized that I could no longer stay in relationship. I finally understood that I couldn’t change him and realized that if I stayed in the relationship that meant I would have to accept certain behaviors and treatment. And, I was not okay with doing that anymore. So, whatever situation that you are in, whether it’s with a family member, a friend, or a significant other, rather than trying to change someone’s behavior, opt to move into a state of acceptance. And then, if you find that you cannot stay put with accepting those behaviors, then that might indicate you have outgrown the relationship, and it’s time to move forward.