Triggers: Day 1 of 30

Today marks the start of my 30 day challenge to blog every day in the month of November. My biggest take away today was being aware of triggers. I wasn’t great at controlling them, but afterward when I had a pause, I knew they were there. Some cases I was great at bringing them to heel and not let them get the best of me. In other situations, not so lucky.

What I noticed most about triggers when they get the best of me, they have a really negative impact and compulsory way of taking over my decision making. In other words, I felt like my decisions where being hijacked by the situation that was setting me off, versus making it rationally or for the right reasons. It was like stepping outside of myself, seeing I was making a rash decision, and yelling at myself to not do it. I was stuck in a clear box banging on the glass yelling at myself to not do it, but I couldn’t hear myself, and I just had to watch it happen.

When I was aware of my decision and more self-aware of what was about to set me off, I found a quick way to escape. I had to move or excuse myself from the spot that was triggering me, so I could be clear minded on what needed to be the next step. In that case I was in full control, found my center, and then made a decision that was thought out. I was not being controlled by my emotional first gut instinct, I felt in control of the next step to take.

Things that trigger us are nasty and can bring to the surface the worst versions of who we are. In those moments we are powerless and make irrational choices based on motion rather than ones that make the best sense. I wanted to find out more about triggers so I dug in a little more to learn.

Triggers are very different and very personal for each person. So, there wasn’t really any kind of remedy that I could find or suggest that would be a shot gun approach to solving it for all of you that view this post. Triggers do create avoidance tendencies inside of us where we will avoid situations that make them come to the surface. In those cases, we never really learn to deal with them or find ways to not allow them to be triggers any more.

Triggers are typically activated through one or more of the five senses. The most common senses that cause triggers are sight and sound. They are often very diverse and varied. For sight as an example, an object that was used to create the experience of the trauma becomes a trigger. A dog that as a puppy was traumatized by the sound of guns, has the same triggered reactions when fireworks or thunder happens. For sound as an example, anything that sounds like anger to a child who was abused in their younger years will be a trigger in their teenage and adult years.

I’ve learned today that triggers, if we let them, keep us from being the person that we want to be the most. We can’t let our triggers have that power. Triggers are simply a stimulus that if we let it, changes our thoughts and actions. We cannot underestimate them or ignore them. They’ll keep us from being the best versions of ourselves. Marshall Goldsmith wraps this post up nicely for us with this quote:

Fate is the hand of cards we’ve been dealt. Choice is how we play the hand. People don’t get better with out follow up. Half the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.

Not bad for a day one learn. I won some battles against my triggers today and some I did not. In every case I did not, it didn’t go well. I was a scary person to be around and not very approachable.

I’m not sure I can keep this challenge of posting for 29 more days but, I am happy with day one and what it taught me.

Thanks for reading.

Shawn ✌🏻

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