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“Avoiding your triggers isn’t healing. Healing happens when you’re triggered and you’re able to move through your pain, the pattern, and the story- and walk your way to a different ending.” ~ Vienna Pharaon
We hear the word “trigger” a lot these days, and often it can be said in a condescending way, like being triggered is a a negative thing.
We make fun of people being triggered, and we expect people to place “trigger warnings” on anything that could possibly provoke an emotional reaction.
The reality is being triggered is a natural, healthy part of the human experience. The fact that we mock it, or want to hide from triggers, just shows how deeply we avoid our own emotions.
Triggers can happen when we least expect them. When we think all the emotional wounds are healed, something can happen that reminds us there is still a scar. These emotional triggers can teach us and help us grow, or they can keep us stuck in the same old sh*t, repeating the same old patterns, living the same old story. Sometimes a reaction seems out of proportion to the situation, and that’s usually because something else deep within us has been triggered. Some old wound, some belief that no longer serves us.
Like many people, I used to avoid my triggers, or at the very least, I would try to ignore them or bury them. All this did was keep me in the same space. I didn’t learn, and I didn’t grow.
Now, I get curious. I sit with the pain, hurt, sadness, or whatever emotion is swirling around in me, and I ask why. I reflect on what triggered me and where that’s sitting in me. I dive deep, and what I’ve learnt is I often come back to the same triggered response, “I’m not enough.” I’m aware of this, and I’ve spent an incredible amount of time working on this and through these beliefs and feelings.
But still I get triggered. And sometimes I still feel like I’m not enough.
Why was I triggered? Perhaps I felt trapped and was reminded of a time I was forced to do something I didn’t want to do. Perhaps I felt misunderstood and felt like someone was manipulating me or intentionally twisting my words. Perhaps I felt like I was “bad” because I formed a belief that parts of me were not acceptable or wrong, so in moments when I feel this again, I go into protection mode. Perhaps I felt unheard, like nobody was really listening to me. Perhaps I felt foolish, a little ashamed for not knowing something or for parts of myself that were not deemed “normal.” Perhaps I felt not considered, a little irrelevant, like I didn’t matter, or like I was completely unseen.
Even with my knowledge and my ongoing work, I still get triggered. And sometimes still I feel like I’m not enough.
It was an emotional release when I was finally able to discover that I had a belief that was formed as a child in a situation where I did not feel heard or seen. It wasn’t an overly traumatic situation as I look at it with my adult eyes, but as a child this incident formed a lifelong belief that I wasn’t enough. This one incident where I was speaking and felt completely unheard and where I sat there and felt completely unseen would trigger me. And if I’m honest, it can still trigger me, although I’m far more self-aware now.
With healing and growth, I’ve changed. Not fundamentally changed—my heart is still the same but has changed in awareness, in that I’ve built boundaries, and in that I know I need to love myself and focus on myself as a priority so I can keep my own cup full to support those in my life.
Some people in my life haven’t liked the changes in me. I’m more self-reliant and whole within myself, so don’t need them in the way that the old me with more broken parts did. I’ve come to understand that’s their insecurities, beliefs, and triggers, and just because I’ve taken the path of growth and change, I have to be accepting that not everyone will choose that path. Not everyone is comfortable with change, and some people will never realise that some of their beliefs no longer serve them. Some people will always react in a particular way because they are stuck in the same space. In the same story. And that’s okay.
So today, I take care of my scars. I lovingly soothe them when they feel a little raw. I’m a work in progress and appreciate my triggers for reminding me of the messy parts of myself. Those little pieces that encourage me to dig deeper and wade through whatever darkness is there. The tears that flow, highlighting that there are still a few shadows of “I’m not enough” lurking. And the blocking up of my throat chakra forcing me to remember I can speak and I can be heard.
My triggers have been the catalyst toward growth. I’ve trained myself to understand that strong emotions are a trigger for me to look at something. To go within and really look and use those emotions to grow in my level of consciousness.
Sometimes I still get triggered. And sometimes that little voice says, “You’re not enough.” And that’s okay because in all my messiness, I now see the beauty in using every trigger to learn something new about myself. Perhaps forgive myself, but most of all, remember to love my light and my dark.