As we go through life we all have our own experiences, relationships and situations that are both good and bad. Everything we face in life helps to shape us, but these things can also become triggers in our thoughts, emotions and spiritual life.
A trigger is a stimulus such as a smell, sound, or sight that triggers thought patterns and emotions and can often be related to trauma or stressful situations.
Fortunately all triggers aren’t bad. Some triggers are actually beneficial and pleasant like today as I walked into our local pool and was surrounded with the sounds and smell of chlorine and water. The instant I smelt the pool my thoughts went back to my own swimming lessons when I was a child and the fun I had learning to swim. I emotionally connected with the smell and sounds all around me and the pleasant memory the pool triggered.
The same is true for certain foods, scenery, texture, music, particular people, celebrations or situations I might find myself in. Many of my triggers are triggers to joy and beneficial to my emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. However I also have had, and in some cases still do have negative triggers that push me to react and cause my emotional state to unwantedly shift. Like the smell of a certain perfume or aftershave, things people might say or do that are similar to something in my past, a song that reminds me of the last time I saw my brother before he died, or the sight and smell of satay sticks being a reminder of our daughters anaphylactic episodes.
The key to not being at the mercy of life triggering us into places that we don’t want to go is to begin to be more aware and in touch with what we react to so we, with God’s help can deal with and be healed in these areas of our lives.
If something is negatively triggering us it is helpful to:
Be present and notice what we are reacting to. Self awareness is key to dealing with and moving towards healing from negative triggers in our lives. If you struggle to connect with your real thoughts and emotions ask God to help you understand how you are feeling, and if needed talk to someone who will support you.
Relax -breathe deeply and hold your breath for 3 seconds and then breath out and release the tension.
Step back – Clear your thoughts and focus on one thought or phrase which you want to think and feel so that you shift to responding rather than reacting.
Pray and think upon and speak what God says about you and the situation or relationship memory that you are reacting to. Many triggers may be facts about how we perceive/d a situation but they aren’t necessarily all true.
Consider what God says about your life and think upon His truth. Start to visualise the future He has for you. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Forgive and let go – many times what is triggering us negatively we simply need to let go of and determine to move on. We don’t have to be negatively shaped by our pasts, but can determine to let God into our hearts so that we can heal, learn, grow and move forward.
Change the narrative – most of us are going to experience rejection, hurt, disappointments and challenges, but we get to choose how these things will shape us. Will they make us small, fearful and limited or with God’s healing and guidance will we choose to use these things to cause us to become stronger, more resilient and things God uses to build our story of overcoming, breakthrough, hope and faith. God says he will work all things together for our good and His plan and purpose is to weave an amazing tapestry of our lives using with all the threads of who we are and who He declares we are in Him. (Romans 8:28)
Today don’t let your triggers manipulate, control or hold you back from the life and purposes God has for you. Take time to recognise what triggers you have both negatively and positively, focus on responding the way you want to rather than reacting badly, pray and seek God for what He says about situations or relationships, forgive and let go and determine to change the narrative as with God’s help you begin to build the life He has for you.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 53:5)
“Casting all your anxieties on Him. For He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2Timothy 1:7)
“The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.” (Psalm 145:18-19)
Prayer: Lord thankyou for your love, concern and grace towards me. Please help me to be more self-aware, to understand what triggers I have in my life and how to move forward to wholeness and joy. I choose to forgive those who have hurt, rejected or disappointed me and I ask that you would build in and around me the life you have called and chosen for me. In Jesus name amen