Truth Bomb Tuesday: Do you know how to work with your triggers?
Do you get ‘triggered’?
This is one of those words that has come out of nowhere recently, and now you hear it everywhere.
“I was talking to my mum and she got totally triggered.”
I has taken on a tinge though that I think is a bit regrettable.
Like, when we say something like, “Karen got totally triggered by what the attendant at K-mart said to her,” we sort of imagine someone going on off some sort of irrational rampage, knocking over shelves of napkin holders and serving spoons.
And so we have ‘triggered’ = “crazy”. “Triggered” = “losing your mind”. It’s become a bit of an insult.
“Oh don’t worry about here. She’s just triggered.” Which implies that she has no good reason to be triggered.
But I think this is a shame because when it started out (in the psychology profession, I guess), I don’t think it had those connotations. It certainly wasn’t the put-down it’s become.
I think originally it was just something to describe what to psychologists is a pretty mechanical process.
It’s a term borrowed from electrical engineering and computer science for a reason.
Like, if you turn the nob on the washing machine, it sets in train a string of actions that end up with your clothes being washed.
When you turn the nob, the washing machine gets totally triggered.
Human minds are all that much more complex that a washing machines circuit board sometimes, and we work in similar ways.
A lot of our thought processes follow set patterns that have been established over our life time.
At any point in time, there is a sequence of thoughts and responses ready to go, just waiting to be activated – just waiting to be triggered.
Maybe someone talks to you in a loud voice. That triggers a memory of being yelled at by your mother, which sets in motion a chain of fear, retreat and self-loathing.
Now there is nothing wrong with this. Let me say that again. There is NOTHING wrong with this.
This is how a healthy mind works.
Sure, maybe it’s problematic sometimes. Maybe you don’t want to get that shrinking feeling whenever you are around confident people.
But the existence of a ‘trigger’ and the sequence it sets in motion is not the problem here. Your mind is not doing anything wrong.
This is just how the mind works. And if you want to consciously engage your thoughts, and set yourself up with productive and empowering thought patterns, then this is just something you have to work with.
So that’s why I think it’s a shame we have pathologized “triggers” – that we see triggering as a bad thing.
It’s not. It’s just how we work.
And if you crack the code of your own triggers and sequencing, then you can totally change your thinking.
And if you can change your thinking, you can totally change your life.