(GoHealthier.com) – Getting triggered is a phrase that’s often misunderstood. It has even been used to make fun of people’s reactions to seemingly insignificant issues. But it’s actually a very real problem and may come from the experience of a traumatic event. Understanding what causes triggers and how to reduce their impact may lead us toward a healthier, happier life.
What Are Triggers?
Triggers are intense reactions to events. These reactions may seem “over the top” when compared to the expected level of reaction. But for the person experiencing the trigger, the intense reaction isn’t really about the current event. It’s actually about how the current event reminds them of a past event. Triggers commonly come from past experience with traumatic events, including:
- Military service
- Losing a loved one
- Emotional abuse
- Physical assault
- Serious accidents or other violence
Some people also become triggered much more easily than others. How a person processes a traumatic event may affect whether something triggers them in the future. Additionally, the person’s sensitivity to the world around them may also play a role in their reaction to a potentially triggering event.
Why Do We Experience Triggers?
There’s a reason why we find some events to be riggering. The brain, when exposed to trauma, may have trouble processing it correctly. Essentially, it’s so horrible that we cannot deal with it effectively, but the exact scientific mechanism that causes this reaction is not known. That may lead to separating the experience, trying to lock it away, or dissociating ourselves from it.
When triggered, that experience comes flooding back as if it was happening in the present moment. Because of that, the triggered person may experience flashbacks, dissociative episodes, or other emotional experiences that are distressing. Until the person does the work to “heal” the trauma, those issues may continue to occur.
Can Triggers Be Prevented?
Preventing triggers isn’t always possible, but there are ways to reduce the risk of encountering them or the frequency with which they occur. Therapy is often suggested to people who are struggling with being triggered. That gives them the chance to talk through their experiences with trusted professionals.
With continued effort, that may help their brain resolve the trauma, so they won’t experience it in real-time the next time a triggering event happens. Staying out of triggering situations may also be valuable, but it’s not always possible to do that. Working through issues without therapy may also help, and sometimes the risk of triggering fades over time, as well.
How to Manage Triggers Effectively
For those who can’t stay out of situations that may be triggering or trying to work through past issues, learning to manage triggers effectively may be the biggest goal. One way to do that is to set clear boundaries with the people around us, so they understand what to avoid that may cause a triggered reaction.
Journaling may also help because it requires consideration of thought processes. Understanding why we react in a certain way to a particular stimulus may help us move toward changing our reactions in the future.
It’s important to remember that being triggered is more than just experiencing discomfort. There are many issues that make people uncomfortable or that we don’t like to talk about with others. But being triggered goes well beyond that. However, with time, effort and support, it’s possible to reduce or eliminate the risk of feeling triggered based on past events.
~Here’s to a Healthier Life!
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