August 17, 2015

What Not To Do When We Are Triggered: 25 Things.

"ANGRY-YYYY baby!!!!", Harald Groven, Flickr commons

Time stops.

Our face flushes, our heart pounds quicker and if suddenly the option to just disappear and never return was offered to us we would definitely accept it in a flash.

Because being triggered feels awful.

That is why we call it being triggered. We feel set-off and set-up and all the things that make us uncomfortable are near the surface of our consciousness and we don’t like it one bit.

When we begin to practice meditation and increase mindfulness in our lives we start to see that our ups and downs aren’t necessarily successes and failures but instead are just a series of moments that are constantly coming and going. But triggers seem to bypass our practice and we find ourselves back at square one.

However, there are many spiritual teachers who believe this process of being triggered is essential to decreasing our own suffering and the suffering on the planet as a whole.

Becoming aware of where we hurt, where we lash out and where we feel insufficient just as we are is a courageous process. And if we want to live a life of benefit, to ourselves and others, it a necessary one.

In her audio recording, Unconditional Confidence, Pema Chödrön talks about ubiquitous anxiety.

She explains how we all have this constant level of neurosis and anxiety in us all the time which, since it’s so habitual, can be hard for us to see. So when our anxiety gets raised it is actually a great opportunity. When our anxiety and pain is loud and yelling at us and terribly uncomfortable, this is the moment we can actually do something about it.

Now we can deal with this anxiety in productive ways because we can see it more clearly. We can look it in the face and ask it, “What are you all about?” and “What are you asking of me?” and “How can I love myself more in order to heal this wound?”

But in order to get the most out of these triggered moments there are a bunch of things we need to stop doing:


1. Taking it personally

2. Blaming other people

3. Thinking it is no big deal and we can ignore it

4. Cuddling up with our addictions

5. Lashing out at the people we love

6. Deciding we are a piece of shit who can never heal because we are such a bad person

7. Thinking that we need this trigger because it is an essential part of who we are

8. Making a mental scrapbook of all the other times we were triggered in the same way and show it to all our friends

9. Trying to justify the trigger by deciding we are right

10. Trying to justify the trigger by deciding we are wrong

11. Falling in love with the trigger

12. Breaking up with the trigger

13. Holding the trigger’s hand and invite it on vacation with us

14.  Using the trigger as ammunition to trigger other people’s triggers

15. Spending our time lying in bed feeling helpless

16. Choosing not to access our own bank of self-love and resources

17. Believing we can’t talk to anyone about the trigger because they won’t understand

18. Forgetting all the other times we were triggered and found great solutions

19. Thinking we are the only person on the planet to ever experience this trigger

20. Belittling ourselves for feeling old childlike emotions

21. Ignoring the healing power of spending time in nature

22. Neglecting our yoga mat and meditation pillow

23. Treating our body badly

24. Letting the trigger be bigger then our love

25. Forgetting all the solutions that we have used before are in reach if we just look

Instead we can try to see that the flush of emotions the trigger has brought on as a simple current running through our systems.

We can let these emotions and sensations arise organically as they are doing and we can set an intention for this uncomfortable moment to be a vehicle for healing and transformation.

And then we can observe that as the heat of the trigger fades we feel a little different.

Maybe a little lighter.

Or a little more present.

Or even a little raw and vulnerable.

And we can know we are doing a good job. Working with ourselves when we are triggered is hard, but I believe we can all benefit from it with the help of a little love.


Mindful Approaches to Taming Troublesome Triggers.


Author; Ruth Lera

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Harald Groven/ Flickr




Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Ruth Lera  |  Contribution: 35,510