I need to start this post with a disclaimer: I love my family. I’m very close to them and they’ve always had my back.
Having said that – often when I’m home, I feel about 50 lbs heavier and 20 years younger.
And I know I’m not alone.
Plenty of us feel “triggered” by certain people, situations, or even memories.
Often I hear clients talk about wanting to avoid family, doctor’s visits or even medications or other therapies because it “triggers” them and they hate that.
I get it.
Why would we want to voluntarily put ourselves in situations that make us feel awful?
We’re never triggered into feeling good.
When we talk about being triggered, we’re never talking about feeling awesome. Being triggered feels frustrating, disempowering, and worse of all, it feels like it’s out of our control.
It’s scary to think that other people have this control over us.
We can start to associate these feelings with certain people – like family or doctors. Being triggered into feeling crappy by someone is certainly cause to avoid that person – or group of people. It’s completely understandable.
The ugly truth about triggers.
What if I told you that you could avoid being triggered – without having to avoid the people that trigger you?
Imagine enjoying family time without automatically feeling like you’re failing at life because you’re not married.
Being with your friend that has her life all figured out without feeling like you’re a loser.
Or even reminiscing about how great things used to be without immediately thinking how everything has gone downhill and then getting all upset about it.
This is all totally possible when we realize the truth about being triggered: other people aren’t triggering us – we are.
Think about an audience of 50 people watching a comedy.
How does the audience react?
Some people may laugh and feel silly and giggly.
Some may slightly smile and think about how true the movie is.
Others may think it’s stupid and look at their watch.
Everyone is seeing the same movie, but there are lots of different reactions to what they’re watching.
That’s because individuals decide for themselves what they think of the movie.
You’re not automatically triggered into laughter simply because the movie is streaming. You’re triggered into laughter when you believe that the movie is funny.
People and situations are no different.
You’re not triggered when your family says something to you.
It happens when you agree that what they say is right.
You’re not triggered by the people in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.
It happens when you believe that you may end up like them.
Here’s your ruby slipper moment.
This means you’ve had the power in your hands the whole time.
You have the choice to agree or disagree with whatever you want.
You have the choice to agree with your family, your thoughts that your current situation is crap, or your thoughts that your future is doomed.
So if you have the choice, why not choose something that feels good?
How to avoid the trigger.
Before you go to a place where you’re triggered, decide what you believe.
For example, before I go home for some family time, I decide that I believe that I work hard for my health and am kicking ass.
I decided that my family is allowed to have their opinions and those opinions don’t really have anything to do with me.
I decide that I am one of the adults in the room.
When we decide what we believe beforehand, it’s easier to feel in control of the situation.
And when we feel in control and know what we believe to be true, we can’t be triggered by anything.
So what do you want to decide before that next family hang-out?
What do you want to believe the next time you go to a doctor’s appointment?
Write it down and remind yourself often. Notice how confident you feel when you think about what you want to believe.
Arm yourself with what you believe like a beautiful platinum shield that can only be used for good.
When you do that, you’ll start to notice something amazing.
You’ll see how wrong people are about you when they say something totally different than what you believe.
Or (and I love it when this happens for me) you’ll see how wrong you were when you notice that other people don’t actually say those things at all.
Try on these new beliefs and see how your future opens up.