How can we live our life without trauma triggers having control over what we do and feel?
This is a simple question, with a complicated answer. Trauma is a normal response to abnormal and overwhelming events. Trauma responses help us deal with overpowering experiences in the short-term, but in the long-term, these responses can get stuck in our body and mind, and this makes overcoming the abuse difficult. We cannot flip a switch and just get over what we’ve experienced. However, it is possible to understand, work through, and release many of our trauma triggers.
Releasing trauma triggers does not mean that we don’t have the triggers anymore. Everyone’s trauma experience is unique, but many people continue to be triggered by experiences from the past. The goal, therefore, is to understand the triggers and learn to work with them. When we do this, they are easier to release and we gain freedom from these painful experiences.
“Heal so you can hear what’s being said without the filter of your wound.”
This quote is a social media post I recently put on Facebook. The goal of trauma recovery is to release the powerful voice of trauma and empower the voice of a healthy emotional response. If we continue to listen to the trauma, it will become stronger and have more power in our life. However, if we work to empower the voice of self-love and self-trust, it will be easier to release the trauma triggers when they hit.
A trigger can be powerful. It’s not only that we remember what happened in the past, but we are pulled back emotionally into the past. This response comes from the emotional part of the brain or the limbic system. When the limbic system is activated, the thinking part of the brain or the prefrontal cortex goes offline.
When the emotion is too strong of a reaction for what is happening currently in our life, this usually means something is being triggered from the past.
When we have a strong emotional reaction to something in our current life, it’s helpful to pause and try to process the event more cognitively and less emotionally. However, this is much easier said than done. And this does not mean that expressing our emotions is bad - not at all! But when the emotion is rooted in something that happened in the past, it can damage our life, rather than benefit us.
The first step in empowering our voice is to understand where the trauma is coming from. This requires self-awareness. To gain awareness of how the trauma affected you, it may be best to work with a skilled therapist. When we understand how the trigger connects to our past, we can pause and decide how we want to work with it. A trigger response is activated by something in our present life but is related to something we’ve experienced in the past. Being able to separate the two is important.
The big question is, how do we move the trigger from the emotional part of the brain to the thinking part of the brain? As stated earlier, it’s about gaining awareness of what is happening. When we gain awareness, then we can develop perspective. Perspective helps us decide how we want to handle the situation rather than react to what is happening.
“It is in the realization that you are able to turn a story from pain into power, from rejection into love, and from insecurity into confidence.”
Evelyn Lim, Abundance Coach
We change the voice of trauma into the voice of empowerment by learning to love, value, and trust ourselves. There are several other blogs on my website that give tips and ideas about this topic. A couple you might want to check out are: You Got This Girl, Five Ways to Overcome Shame and What Do I Need Right Now?