When you are triggered by a certain look or a tone of voice, you are letting emotions hold you hostage
Look for the Patterns
One of the keys to healing yourself emotionally is to recognize the behavior patterns of other people and the situations that take you back to a vulnerable time and cause you to relive your pain from the past all over again.
Know your Triggers
Each time you are triggered by a certain look, a spoken phrase coupled with a tone of voice, a way of moving, or a conversational dynamic that sends you into fight or flight mode… you are letting emotions hold you hostage. To overcome this limitation, become cognizant of what specific series of events, words, expressions, or sounds typically set you off.
Learn From the Bad Experiences
The more aware you become of things that trigger anxious feelings or cause you anguish, discomfort, or some other type of negative response… the better you will become at knowing which people and situations to avoid in the first place.
For example, if a woman who was verbally abused by her partner encounters an imposing male who speaks and moves in the same aggressive and domineering manner as her abuser, she may become triggered and feel a surge of anxiety (fight or flight) that makes her want to escape the situation.
Another benefit of being able to recognize when you’re triggered is that awareness becomes a form of damage control. You can head off a possible confrontation or dramatic scene once you realize that you are not actually in any sort of danger – this is just your over-active nervous system responding to a familiar, traumatic series of events.
To experience what it’s like to feel triggered may not be ideal. However, emotional reactions can serve as an effective means of avoiding dangerous people and situations in the future. The key, of course, is to recognize and become aware of what’s happening – the negative actions of another person that are setting you off, and your reaction – so that you will be reminded of how important it is for you to remove yourself from this type of threat.
In fact, this very awareness of being triggered by the wrong kinds of people can actually take you to the next level of satisfaction in your relationships. Once you know which types of people and attitudes/behaviors provoke you, you will be able to identify these as a red flag. You’ll avoid getting personally involved with such people so as to hold space in your heart for more kind and loving individuals.
You will never be able to avoid all emotional triggers. However, in identifying and becoming cognizant of them when they happen, you will be able to remove yourself from the situation in order to prevent yourself from becoming aversely affected.
Another advantage to becoming aware of the people, situations, actions, and gestures that cause you to flash back to painful, vulnerable moments of your past is that when they do happen, you will be able to snap back into reality by way of coping skills – such as mindful breathing — to help you through the difficult moments.