I didn’t choose this plot.
Why am I drowning in this hole of thoughts
like a reaction I’ve set on default.
I didn’t want to end up here.
God, bring this to a halt.
This is not my fault.
We all have emotional triggers. If you’ve been scared, disappointed, pressured or traumatized before, you’ll become triggered by experiences that are reminiscent of those painful feelings. With this word “triggered” used so often, do we really understand what it means or how we should deal with it?
We may have understood it wrongly.
Here’s the thing – emotional triggers are commonly understood as a response to a person, situation, event, dialogue, reading, film, or other content that provokes a strong emotional reaction. However, according to a counsellor from Biblical Counseling Coalition, triggers do not cause our response.
“Triggers don’t cause your response, they are reminders that tempt you toward a well-worn destructive thought pattern.” – Andrea Lee
But here’s the question, are we aware when we are triggered?
Since triggers lead to temptations, our unidentified emotional triggers can be the enemy’s tool to misguide us towards an action that you’ll later regret, and the worst part is that he’ll make you feel entitled to your reaction.
With that being said, once you identify it, you’re exposing it, when you expose it, darkness loses its power. In other words, if you take time to identify your own triggers, you’re making yourself aware of your weakness – a.k.a the area the enemy plans to use against you.
Here are some common emotional triggers:
- You feel anxious when X leaves you.
- You think that X is not listening to you.
- You think that X is too busy for you
- You feel helpless over situations where you have no control.
- You do not feel valued or appreciated.
- You feel that you are not good enough.
- You think that you are being judged all the time.
- You feel belittled and worthless around X
- You feel controlled by someone.
- Someone is making you feel guilty about leaving them.
- You feel that X never happy to see you.
Sounds familiar? When we are not aware of our triggers, we tend to react in stressful situations, instead of responding to them. Our emotional triggers will often make our bad habit look justifiable because we often use blame, avoidance, isolation and addiction as our defence mechanism in negative situations. So what do we do when we feel triggered?
1. Pause, acknowledge your feeling. (1 Peter 5:7)
Your feeling is not a sin. Don’t push it away just because it’s negative. That’s avoidance. Avoidance will bring you to a state of denial which will prevent you from exposing the story of your past and secret in your heart, to yourself. Be honest, it’s okay. You need to acknowledge it in order to expose it; You can’t bring to light what you keep denying; you can’t çast the worries you won’t admit!
How to cast your worries:
“Lord, I always feel like I’m not valued, help me to live knowing that you see all my deeds and you’re pleased with me as your child.”
How NOT to cast your worries:
“Lord I don’t understand why they don’t value me, but I have You so I’m not affected.”
Saying “ you’re not affected” does not make you strong, you may just be lying to yourself. Strong people are ones who are brave enough to confess their feelings, before asking God to help them through it.
2. Recognize that you have the power to make a choice. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
In overwhelming times, tell yourself repeatedly you don’t need to do what you feel like doing at that moment. Choosing courage, joy, and peace- it’s a choice that you can make.
When you’re about to react, here are somethings you can remind yourself:
- Always “too nice” ? Compromise isn’t always kindness. (2 Tim 1:7) Your validation comes from Christ, you don’t need to compromise in order to please people.
- Always angry? Do your best to hold your tongue. (Psalms 37:8-9) It takes great strength to do that. If you tend to always be angry, try to remain silent and recognize that the situation is probably not as bad as you perceive. Take time to calm down. Ask God to fill you with His peace instead.
- Feel bad for yourself? Don’t play victim. (Luke 17:3-4) Don’t dwell in blaming other people for the pain you’re experiencing, even if it is really their fault. The act of blaming gives power away to external forces to determine your action. Blame makes you weak, take responsibility by doing one of the hardest thing first – learn and take time to forgive. Relief yourself from that pain by building strength to forgive.
- Can’t control yourself? Command your bad thoughts to flee. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Addictions are often perceived as a source of comfort in times that we feel out of control. Nonetheless, Command your urge to (rage,overeat, restrict food, do drugs, alcohol, watch porn, overspend, gamble and so on) to be obedient to the Word of Christ. Command them to leave in the name of Jesus. There is real power in His name. Do it again, and again and again every time you’re tempted. Flee from it by finding a healthy activity replacement. Make sure it’s something you enjoy too!
3. Take time to learn about yourself, dig into your past. ( Lamentations 3: 40)
- What disappoints you, and why?
- Why does a particular statement anger you so much?
- What was a childhood event that left a huge impact on you?
- Who were you around when you formed your old habit?
- What do you spend your time feeding on?
- What did you aspire to be, did you unknowing formed negative habits to achieve it?
Asking yourself all these questions will lead you to understand yourself better and it will prepare you to recognize the events that’ll make you feel triggered, and it will reveal to you the things you should stay away from, and the things that make you happy as well. All these will equip you to have better control of yourself.
4. We need to regulate what we’re thinking about. (Ephesians 4:22)
We need to think about what we’re thinking about. While that sounds tiring, we are already constantly thinking anyway. We need to think about the way we think, why we’re thinking about the things we think and recognize how it drives our course of action.
“What you choose to see determines your reality. You have the power to change your reality by shifting your focus.” – Dr. Caroline Leaf
We give power and control to what we put our focus on. Be mindful, be intentional, ask all the whys. In fact, daydreaming has its benefits! Research says that it’s a way of resting in your own thoughts, which actually serves as a housekeeping method in your brain. How cool is that?
It’s easier to blame the devil for attacking you than to take responsibility for your own action. You have more power than you think. These practices are not a meant to be done once. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a habit to renew your mind, to pour out the hurt, to filter the junk and to fill it, surround and protect it with the life-giving Word of Christ.
Life ain’t gonna get easier but with Christ, you’re no longer a prisoner to your destructive patterns, and you will no longer be a victim to the stronghold of triggers formed by your past!
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before Him he endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the
right hand of the throne of God.”