HOW TO COPE WITH TRIGGERS
THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE!
Look below for the link to a new pageDiscussing this face to face works far better, as it allows you to explore deeper, but as some guys are still unsure or even afriad to talk about these issues (this is quite common amongst survivors) it was considered that it should be part of the website, so I hope it makes sense.
What can trigger you off? Anything can; A sound, a smell, taste, hearing music, even seeing someone who looks like the person who abused you, all of which can cause what is known as a trigger and can cause you to freak out, feel afraid, react badly to things, or even feel suicidal at times.
Triggers can occur any time, any place and can invoke aspects of the sexual abuse you survived, and can even make you feel as if it has happened all over again, so here are some simple ideas on how to deal with them, but as always, it will take some work to alter your current frame of mind, and how you deal with the past, but if put into practise, it becomes a normal way of thinking and reacting to the triggers.
Try it, it does work, but as said, it take some time to change current thought practises so take some time to do it, and if you 'fail' at the beginning, keep trying until you win!
OK, how to get started.....
Start off by putting the triggers back where they belong, which is in the past, and in doing so, place those thoughts back where they belong, which is in the past.
This is not what you will find elsewhere on the Net and is not a typical way of dealing with triggers, so please don't expect to read things about taking care of yourself. (Make sure you do!)
As you go about your normal day time routine, and if anything kicks in that scares you or makes you feel unsafe, pay attention to who or what has triggered you to feel the way you do.
As said above, it could be a sight, a sound, or a person who resembles those who hurt you, but in reality, it is just a thought process that kicks in and makes you feel unsafe and potentially at risk of being harmed. You are safe, yet your past tells you to be scared of a potential threat or danger.
This is increased even more if the abuse was a violent attack, which initially left you feeling scared for your life, and that can linger well in the future, as a pre-warning sign of possible danger.
Make a list of all the things that do trigger you, and if you state that everything triggers me, list everything! By that I mean sit down, with pen and paper, and start writing it all down, as it really helps to see it all written down.
DON'T begin this by putting a barrier of if's and buts' in the way, or you will never do the work that needs doing.
So, having read this far, how do you start to recognise the triggers and deal with them?
You can do three things, which are;
1. Run for your life
2. Avoid and deny it.
3. Deal with it.
What I would like you to do is to recognise what exactly are your trigger feelings. Name them, and then write them down on paper, and keep the list safe
While doing so, remember that however unpleasant they may be, they do not have to lead to previous negative behaviours.
Whilst you're doing this, you may feel triggered, but please carry in and in doing so, recognise the difference between feelings, thoughts, and behaviours whilst you write them down.
By naming the triggers, you take away the scary feelings associated with them, and in reality, they are words on a sheet of paper
So, make a list of between five to ten trigger feelings, but as just said above, avoid feelings that have underlying feelings attached to them.
e.g. if 'angry' or 'depressed' are words used for triggers, think of the underlying feelings that might lead to 'anger' or 'depression', such as hurt, rejection, embarrassment or manipulation.
Now write down the thoughts you often have when experiencing these feelings.
Stay focused on this, so if you begin thinking of a recent situation that led to particular feelings, keep the thoughts that come as general statements.
e.g. If your boss shouts at you, and you start to think "I never get things right" that is a generalisation. Better to go with "he's picking me on because his wife shouted at him last night".
With each trigger feeling and thought that comes along, you need to write down the negative behaviours that follow on.
As a suggestion, your list may look something like:
Feeling - Rejection.
Thought - 'No one cares about me, I can't trust anyone'.
Behaviour - Isolation, self-harming, drinking to excess, etc.
The more triggers you identify, the easier it becomes to see a pattern emerge, so pay attention to your thoughts, they are the ones that let you down primarily.
Broad reaching statements such as "nobody, everyone, never, always, always everything, etc, are all part of 'all of nothing thinking', which doesn't allow you to have a safer middle ground to base yourself on.
When caught in this negative cycle, thoughts can trigger negative emotions, and often that triggers negative feelings.
Once you have done the above, put the paperwork away, and carry on as normal, saying to yourself that yes, you recognise that event as a trigger, but it belongs to the past.
So try to be aware of any thought process, that comes from the past, that stops you living your life, and begin to learn how to place that thought back where it belongs, and then carry on living today's life.
All the above sounds simple to say, and I have heard some people say its not that easy to handle triggers, but it is, and you have the power to do so, so change the way you think about the triggers and see if that works for you.
Keep trying to alter how the triggers make you feel and in doing so, your thought process will chance and you will feel far better for doing so, and will also take back the power, taken from you when abused but which is yours to have.