I talk a lot about triggers.  As someone who never had children, I would have spent the rest of my life being triggered by pregnancy announcements and baby showers if I didn’t learn how to heal them.  Even at 48, 3 years after deciding to stop fertility treatments, I occasionally feel that familiar pang of a trigger.

We’re taught throughout life that other people are the cause of our triggers. You probably started hearing about it when you first got into a relationship with someone.  Spouses always know how to hit your hot buttons. Right? 

What I see most out there on social media and even in counselling is that when someone hits our hot buttons, the best thing to do is to educate them on how not to trigger us. 

Social media will give you the idea that awareness and asking people to stop triggering you is the best way to stop being triggered.  You’ll see tons of posts out there of women listing all the things not to say to someone who’s had a miscarriage.  What not to say to someone who’s experiencing infertility. What not to say to someone who’s trying to adopt. 

And it goes on.  I see posts by others too.  What not to say to someone who’s lost a spouse. Someone who’s getting a divorce. 

Counsellors will teach you to communicate with the person who hits your hot button.  Tell them, “this is how that comment made me feel”. 

In other words, please stop hitting my hot button because it makes me feel bad.

A hot button is a trigger. A trigger is a hot button.  They all boil down to something that initiates a negative reaction within you – anger mostly, but also sadness, irritation, etc.  That negative reaction is evidence of pain within you that is unhealed.  And pain that is possible to heal. Pain that when healed, will no longer trigger you.

This might be a new concept for you so lemme explain. 

I recently watched the Netflix documentary called My octopus teacher.  It’s the story of a South African film maker who documents a friendship that grows between him and an octopus off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa.

What amazed me, was how quickly and effectively octopuses can change shape, colour, even the pattern of their skin depending on the circumstances and environment they’re in. It’s incredible. 

What struck me one day is how much triggers are like the octopus in the movie.  They change shape, colour, they disguise themselves in different situations.

Triggers are Shapeshifters.  This is something I first heard Gabby  Bernstein say. I really didn’t know what she meant by it until recently. 

Triggers are like that.  They change shape.  They disguise themselves.  But they always dial down to the same wounds underneath it all.

Here’s an example. 

When your husband affectionately teases you about the 5 pounds you’ve gained and you explode.  What’s this one about? 

Chances are, you’ve already judged yourself for that weight gain.  Your body already doesn’t measure up to your own standards.  You’ve probably judged your body many times before too. It’s painful to feel like your body is not good enough. 

But when your hubby points it out, the wound is already there and he has just pressed on it.  You feel flawed and he’s reminded you of that.  Your husband’s words are the trigger.

Then, you go into a shop and a woman is trying on the same dress as you.  It looks fantastic on her but for you, it’s too tight around the hips, too loose on the bust.  Or vice versa.   The other woman and the sales lady are gushing about how great it looks and how excited she is about the wedding coming up where she’ll wear it.   Suddenly that woman is the most annoying person in the world.  She’s loud and conceited and why doesn’t she just pay for the dress already and get out of the store. 

What’s happening here?  The trigger is different.  It’s a different person, presenting in a different way. But the woman is still illuminated that same body shame and judgment within you.

Here’s maybe a more relevant example…

I have someone in my life who had a miscarriage, then infertility, and then she had her rainbow baby. 

First, she was triggered by pregnancy announcements.  Her body isn’t good enough, she wasn’t good enough to carry to full term. But that went away when she got pregnant again.

After she delivered, she noticed something.  She was triggered by women who talked about their natural births. Their easy births.  That was what she wanted.  And it triggered a flaw. Her body wasn’t able to do that.  Her body isn’t good enough.  The trigger is different, but the underlying wound is the same one that still hasn’t been healed.

One last example….

For me, and many others, seeing other women get pregnant and have babies triggers a feeling of not fitting it.  Not being good enough to be a mother.  

And then they go on to get pregnant.  The triggers go away.  Or do they?   This is what society will have you believe.  That once you get pregnant, all will be fine.  

But what happens when that mother wants to have a second child and has more trouble conceiving?  The triggers come back, but now it’s not pregnancy announcements that trigger the feeling of not being good enough, it’s women who get to have a second child. 

Or there’s the mom that is triggered by all the stay at home moms who make home made birthday cakes and drop their kids off at school instead of putting them on the bus.  The career mom who would love to give this to her children’s becomes the mom that is not as good as they are.   

For me, the underlying wound is one of not fitting in.  Not belonging. Not being good enough to be a part of that crowd I wanted to be a part of.  I felt that way as far back as grade 5.  I’ve had clients come up with a similar pain as well. 

 So what is one to do about this?  Well, you can continue to go through life being annoyed and triggered by other people, blame them for hurting you, resenting them for it and continuing to stay in your pain.  But if you’re still with me, I’m guessing you’d rather feel the freedom that comes with letting go of your pain. 

If you are, I invite you to sign up for my newest offering: a 2 hour mini-program called The Trigger Release Formula that you can use again and again.  The cart is open for a week starting today. Click here to learn more details and purchase the program.

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References from this episode:

Trigger Release Formula mini-program

Miscarriage – Love & Loss Facebook group

Sheri Johnson