Over the past few weeks in my life, I have been having a series of very stimulating and consciousness expanding conversations with a very good friend. I’d like to go over a couple of questions I have been asked in these conversations in this essay with you all, as I feel they can be very helpful for each of us to consider.
Why does a person get triggered into emotional reactions?
How have you been able to heal yourself to a point where you no longer get triggered by things that used to really get to you?
I’ll answer the first question first, and the second question second, in that order.
A Process To Find Healing For Personal Trigger Points
The process I went through to identify the real triggers and heal myself is actually quite practical and pragmatic. I used a method of healing that got me to a point where I was longer triggered in the moment.
Imagine if you could get yourself to a point where you no longer get burnt by touching a red-hot stove. You would no longer have any need for burn treatments and first aid. You would no longer get triggered. The depth of calmness you can attain no matter what external circumstances you are presented with has importance in the process, however the depth of calmness you have or reach is not a required starting point. That depth becomes easier to reach and more consistent as you go through the process.
For me the key to the whole operation is finding the source of the triggers and healing the wounds.
My best example of this comes form the idea of getting over a heartbreak. You know that you are truly over a heartbreak when you can think of the person and you no longer have emotions “in the moment” that come up. You may think about how you were sad but you no longer get sad right now when you think of the person/events/triggers.
Changing How We View Personal Trigger Points
Before beginning to look for the sources of the triggers I’d like to change how you view them. I think of those sources literally as “open wounds”. This is something I got form Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom . Your emotional body is literally covered in festering open sores. Every time you are triggered it is because someone, or something pokes their finger into one of the sores and swishes it around a bunch. With these wounds you carry a constant pain that subconsciously affects your life (like any chronic pain). However when someone swishes their finger in there, you are suddenly jolted with new pain that is quite intense and real, and in the moment. That is what is happening when you are triggered.
An interesting point to note about the triggers is that anyone can cause the new pain. The new pain often has nothing to do with the original sore. If you are really unaware of the sore, you can actually end up blaming the person who just poked you for the pain. You can end up staying mad at them and harboring new pain, and you may even end up creating new sores on top of the old ones.
It’s very important when thinking about triggers to maintain the perspective that what you are actually mad about is not necessarily the poking that you just endured, but actually the pain from the sore. After all if you didn’t have a sore there, you wouldn’t even notice the poking as something that was painful. This idea is reflected in the classic anecdote: “when a couple is fighting over doing the dishes they are really fighting over something else.” Their anger has just found an outlet in the problem of dirty dishes.
So once you learn to see the triggering events as what they really are—poking of old wounds—and once you see the triggers as what they are—old wounds—then you can begin healing the actual wounds.
That leads us into the second question I was asked by my friend in the past few weeks: How have you been able to heal yourself to a point where you no longer get triggered by things that used to really get to you?
I know these topics need some reflection time for thorough processing, as each one of us normally has our own complex triggers. I will therefore examine and answer this second question in my article next month, and let you have time to reflect on, process and integrate into your life what we talked about here today. When you are ready, I invite you to continue onto part 2 of this series, where we will cover a process for deep healing beyond emotional triggers.