Emotional triggers can either be your worse enemy or your best friend. You get to choose your perspective by learning how to cope with emotional triggers. Your triggers are trying to warn you that you are in a situation that has harmed you in the past. To protect you your triggers will either send you into flight or fright mode when you experience it, which may look like social isolation or an outburst of anger. Emotional triggers can be a thing, person, place, time or smell that transports you back to a traumatic experience causing you to relive the emotional intensity of that trauma in the present. In this blog post, we will discuss how to cope with emotional triggers.
“Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback. She/he will react to this flashback, trigger with an emotional intensity similar to that at the time of the trauma. A person’s triggers are activated through one or more of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.”
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Learn to Identify Your Emotional Triggers
I experienced a series of traumatic events in a short period of time when I was fourteen years old. Due to lack of support, I never coped with any of it. I simply kept moving forward with my life and suppressed the memories of it all. When I transitioned to college I began to experience my depression more intensely and I did not know how to cope with emotional triggers. Heck, I did not even know what my emotional triggers were or have any positive coping skills. Due to this, I suffered emotionally and physically in silence. At the height of my depression, I was constantly fatigued, sick, and controlled by my triggers. At the time I wasn’t aware, but due to my trauma at fourteen one of my major triggers were a series of negative or stressful events. Those events would subsequently control my mood and behaviors. When I would get overwhelmed I would tap out of my daily activities, isolate myself for a few days, and just stay in bed, overspend on food delivery and rely on unhealthy behaviors as a form of pleasure and escape. This put me on a very self-destructive path.
How to Cope with Emotional Triggers
With the help of behavioral therapy, overtime I began to really acknowledge my traumas and began to see how my behaviors were tied to my past trauma. Going to see a trained therapist helped me to identify my triggers and identify how my trigger was impacting me. Identifying my triggers was the key to better managing my depression and anxiety. I became more self-aware of my negative coping skills and what triggered them. Slowly, I began to control my depression instead of being controlled by it.
This did not mean that overnight things changed. I had moments that I was aware that I was engaging in negative coping skills and why, but continued anyway. However, as my positive coping skills and self-awareness increased I was able to snap out of my cycle of negative coping skills sooner and sooner. When I would gravitate towards isolation or unhealthy behaviors, and I became more aware that my body was simply trying to cope with a trigger. This helped me to focus on finding the stressor in my life and the trauma it was linked to rather than focus on those negative feelings. but rather to find the stressor in my life that was causing those feelings. Once I found my stressors I would use the positive coping skills I learned in counseling to replace my negative coping skills. I would also focus on solutions that eliminated my stressor instead of giving in to negative thoughts (or at least helped me to at least feel less overwhelmed).#Mentalhealth triggers can either be your worse enemy or your best friend it's all about perspective. Click To Tweet
Are you ready to learn how to cope with your emotional triggers? If so this will require facing the trauma you have you been through, and realizing how it impacts your mental and behavioral health. If you do not know if you are ready to begin that journey that is ok. As always, this is only my personal experience and what has worked best for me. However, I truly believe there is hope for every unique situation, even yours. If you suffer from severe mental illness or thoughts of suicide I want to encourage you to seek help today. Find a local therapist or contact the National Suicide Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting “START” to 741-741. A trained therapist can provide you with a diagnosis and help you develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Need resources? Check out our resource library for free worksheet downloads like our Trigger Tracker.
Before you leave, please don’t forget to comment below. Sharing your experience and what works for you. Doing so may be the key to helping someone learn how to cope with emotional triggers they are struggling with. Also, please share this post because you never know who in your circle may be struggling and may need to read this post for encouragement.