Conflict # 10 – Triggers

We use the word “trigger” to mean something that stimulates a knee-jerk reaction. It can come from the environment, like other people’s behavior; that’s an external trigger. Or it can come from inside, such as a physical pain or an unpleasant memory; that’s an internal trigger.

A therapist was working with a troubled young woman, who had been sexually assaulted and suffered for years afterwards. Despite his sincerest efforts, he was not able to encourage the client to talk about the trauma. It was suspected that she had not yet come to trust him. One of the therapist’s colleagues suggested that something about the therapist might be the problem.

Long story short. After more in-depth questions the therapist succeeded in having the client describe the sensory features around the abuse: sights, sounds, smells. She said one thing stood out: the man who abused her used a brand of after shave lotion, which she named. This was the ‘aha’ moment. The therapist had been using the same brand himself. Each time she met with him she was being triggered, without even knowing it. How did she not know it? A scent on the skin of one person does not smell exactly as it does on another person. So, she never identified the scent on the therapist; but somehow she was still triggered.

When tensions run high, we can be triggered without realizing it. And without knowing how or why.

If you’re reading this, you probably have an interest in self-improvement. Follow the words of Socrates: know yourself. Be aware of the various triggers – internal as well as external – that produce an instant defensive or hostile reaction from you. Understand what you do to trigger negative reactions from others.

Not sure how to get started? Just call for a free consultation: 219-309-3928. This process is not nearly as hard as you might believe, and I know, when you learn this wonderful skill, you’ll be happier and more at peace.

Thanks for reading!