We’re triggered when something happens that creates intense emotions in us that are some type of FEAR. We can experience rejection, betrayal, disapproval, criticism, loss of control, feeling unwanted, etc.
What Causes It?
The trigger can be related to trauma or adverse childhood experiences, and it can also be related to the beliefs that we hold. Something as simple as being shamed when we’re young and not being able to properly process the emotion and understand that experience means that a similar experience can trigger the same thoughts and feelings again, even if what’s actually happening is something entirely different. We can end up taking the stimulus and making a story about it that is related to our thorny stories.
Our Beliefs Can Make Us Reactive
We all hold a set of beliefs about ourselves and the way the world works. Triggers related to our beliefs can happen when:
- Either they can be challenged and that threatens our sense of identity
- Or we continue to believe something about ourselves that’s not true
So, for example, if we believe that being a “Braves fan” or “engineer” is part of who we are, and someone says all Braves fans and engineers are dumb, then we can feel threatened.
Or, we can have beliefs like “No one likes me if I’m myself” and then when someone does something we perceive as rejection, we lean into that false limiting belief again.
Fear as Guidance vs. Ego Fear
The emotional part of our brain, our limbic system, exists to keep us safe but often our perception of what’s happening makes us feel unsafe rather than us actually being unsafe. Reactivity is great in a life-or-death situation when we need fear to kick in. When our hair raises or a strange man approaches us in a dark parking garage, we need to trust our fear. That’s when it’s critical that we don’t default to being nice girls or people pleasers and just let our body lead the way to safety.
But when we’re reacting to a stimulus that’s not a threat we need to pause and question it. If our husband says he’s hungry and we start to have an emotional reaction to it, then a limiting belief like “I’m not a good cook, I’m not good enough, no one likes me” is present that we need to deconstruct to find the origin of, reparent our inner child, heal from the emotional wounding around it, and choose a supportive new belief.
When we heal the emotional baggage we carry, then we’re just reacting to the moment rather than being triggered by an event that recalls something from our past.