We all have people or incidents which can trigger us, or which can cause us to experience negative emotions or reactions, as if we are being provoked. Much of the time, getting triggered is so powerful we can feel as though we are out of control with our responses. It is as if we are powerless to change that response, a response which is second nature to us because we have felt those triggering feelings so deeply or so frequently, in the past.
Typical examples of getting triggered are events which remind us strongly of our childhood, in a negative way. You might, for example, find yourself behaving as you did in childhood when you are in the company of a particular sibling, one who metaphorically drags you back by arguing about certain things from the past or in a certain, familiar way. Familiar patterning is the thing that the causes triggering effect. You might, for example, become triggered by a certain place, if that place had a strong and negative impact upon you.
New triggers can be formed also by repetition or impact of negative experiences. We can also encounter certain people whom remind us in some way of problem people from our past, and again, create a triggering response.
Getting Triggered – Sheila’s Experience
Shiela met a new man. It started off beautifully but after a few weeks, he began to make her feel oppressed. He would not listen to her explanations and he type cast her in a way that made her feel that she was someone else. He told her what she liked and what she did not like, what she thought and what she did not think. Shiela was confused. How could this man believe that he knew more about what was in her own mind that she did. What was he trying to do? Things had been so good between them and then, bang!
Sheila’s reaction to his misplaced opinions was extreme, however. The discussion escalated because of her reactions, as she became extremely defensive and began exaggerating her own opinions as a kind of rebellious revolt against his attempts to control her. It ended badly. He ended the relationship. Over a month later they reunited. Things became quite serious between them, but again he would strike out with these attempts to control her and she would again, be getting triggered and rebel against him. She was actually experiencing anxiety at his behaviour, but he could not understand why. Sheila was now always waiting for the next time he would seemingly attack her.
Understanding Sheila’s Triggers
Without a doubt, Sheila realised that her partner was triggering her old familiar pattern of feeling controlled and compromised by her father, from her years as a child and young adult. In fact, Sheila left home to escape her father’s control. Perhaps it was too a karmic joke that Sheila’s partner had the same birthday as her father. The lesson was all too clear. While it would be nice for Sheila’s partner to adopt a sense of equality in the relationship, it was up to Sheila to overcome her trigger reactions. Most likely, her partner too was triggered to respond to Sheila in the way that he did, with the need to try to control her. But that’s another story.
Only by overcoming this pattern of getting triggered would Sheila be able to experience objective observation as to whether she felt that her partner really cared for her or not, and whether or not the relationship was healthy for her. When emotions are triggered in such an extreme way, it is virtually impossible to make objective decisions. Sheila owed it to herself to overcome this barrier.
Breaking patterns is the essence of resolving triggers. We used the timeline regression technique to assist Sheila to reframe her past experience with her father, as the instigator who initially made Sheila aware of the need to revolt and eventually escape her oppression. This was the beginning of the pattern. We then carried through the reframing of that event, all the way through to the present day and into the future.
Sheila commented that she no longer felt trapped by her partner’s behaviour, but saw it more as a flaw in his communication. We then engaged some NLP devises to chip away at her defensive reactions. This part of the pattern breaking was given as ‘homework’ and took around 2 weeks to effectively kill off her old habitual responses. Sheila could now make better decisions about whether this aspect of the relationship was important, or just silly.
Getting triggered is a real problem for many people. If you would like to tackle your triggers, get in touch. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Sunshine Coast.