A trigger is something that reminds us of a traumatic event from the past, such as an abusive relationship. Anything can become an emotional trigger for different people, from loud noises to specific places. Because triggers can be random things, it can be difficult, even impossible, to avoid them entirely. But why It’s impossible to avoid emotional triggers?
This is just the world we live in. So, if we can’t get away from emotional triggers, what can we do about them? One good thing about triggers is that they can actually be informative—they can give us the clarity to see how we can change our situation. By understanding our triggers, we gain power over them. Awareness leads to action, and action allows us to establish boundaries.
Why It’s Impossible To Avoid Emotional Triggers
In a world filled with turmoil, challenges, and complex relationships, it’s a universal desire to seek tranquility and emotional peace. Dr. David Hopkins, the director of the Marriage Recovery Center, specializes in narcissism and emotional abuse, two subjects that frequently bring individuals face to face with emotional triggers. Can we truly escape these triggers, as Dr. Hopkins contemplates? While the ideal may be to live in a serene, trigger-free environment, the reality is quite different. This article explores the inevitability of emotional triggers and offers insights into how to navigate them effectively.
Understanding Emotional Triggers
What Are Emotional Triggers?
Emotional triggers are the remnants of past experiences that resurface when we encounter similar situations or behaviors. It’s like a series of interconnected events that replay in our minds, causing us to react emotionally. For those in emotionally abusive relationships, these triggers can be pervasive, stemming from recurring patterns of dismissiveness, overbearing behavior, or provocations.
The Toll of Emotional Triggers
Emotional triggers often leave us feeling as though we’re on constant high alert, a state associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). The toll these triggers take on our mental and emotional well-being cannot be underestimated.
The Unavoidable Reality
Dr. Hopkins rightly points out that avoiding triggers altogether is an impractical goal. Living in complete solitude or an idyllic, tranquil setting may seem appealing, but it doesn’t align with the realities of the world we inhabit. Life is a mosaic of challenges, and emotional triggers are an inherent part of this mosaic.
Navigating Emotional Triggers
1. Self-Reflection and Journaling
One powerful strategy to manage emotional triggers is self-reflection. Find a quiet place, take out your journal, and spend time reflecting on what triggered your emotional response. Dive deep into your thoughts and emotions. Why did this trigger affect you? What does it reveal about your needs and desires?
2. Seeking Clarity
People who have experienced emotional abuse often crave clarity. They yearn to know what to do and how to navigate their situations. Surprisingly, triggers can provide valuable insights into your own needs and the changes you desperately require. They can guide you toward a clearer understanding of your circumstances.
3. Identifying Action Steps
While understanding your triggers won’t necessarily change your abuser’s behavior, it can empower you to take action. Sometimes, these actions can be small but significant, such as not reacting when provoked or holding your ground when appropriate. Stealing moments of solitude or discussing your feelings with a trusted friend can also provide relief.
4. Setting Boundaries
Once you’re aware of your triggers and have identified actionable steps, it becomes easier to establish boundaries. Boundaries are essential for maintaining your emotional well-being. They allow you to protect yourself from further harm and assert your needs within the relationship.
Emotional triggers are an inescapable part of life, especially for those dealing with emotionally abusive relationships. While the idea of living without triggers may be appealing, it’s simply not feasible. However, through self-reflection, seeking clarity, identifying actionable steps, and setting boundaries, you can regain control over your emotional responses and move toward a place of healing and empowerment.
Remember that awareness is the first step in this journey. By understanding your triggers, you gain insight into your own needs and desires. This knowledge, coupled with decisive action, can lead to healthier decisions and, ultimately, a life less dominated by emotional triggers. It may not be easy, but it is possible to find a path to peace and emotional well-being even in the face of adversity.
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.