Typically, when you are triggered, it is not about the immediate situation you are in. You are triggered because you have unresolved emotional issues that lie beneath the surface. Similar to the iceberg theory – what lies above is a small part of the iceberg that lies below. From Dr. Gabor Mate: “I want you to think about the triggering image. What is a trigger? If you look at a weapon, the trigger is a very small part of the mechanism, isn’t it? What there really is, is a weapon that is loaded, ready to fire, and it’s got an explosive in it and it’s got ammunition in it. That’s you. Then you see something or hear something that triggers you. Should we look at these triggers as a tiny little thing, or should we look at the loaded gun and the ammunition that we all carry and we are so afraid to actually look at?
If you are triggered, it’s because you are a gun ready to fire, it’s because there’s explosive material in you that you’ve been carrying all your life. The rich learning is in getting curious about your ammunition. Never mind focusing on the trigger so much.
I’m suggesting that in your life, in your work, be much more interested in the ammunition and the explosive, than in the trigger. Or to quote Eckhart Tolle: “Be at least as interested in your own reactions, than in the people and situations that evoke those reactions.” When you are activated and triggered, that’s a great time to compassionately inquire within yourself. What’s all this about for me? And that’s how you learn to take responsibility in the present self.
Every time you are triggered, you can do one of two things with it. You can either respond to the trigger by attacking, dismissing or withdrawing from whoever is triggering you OR you can stay with the emotion and work it through. Those are your choices. And as long as you do the first thing, as long as you withdraw or attack, you’re simply perpetuating your victimhood.
“Your conflicts, all the difficult things, the problematic situations in your life are not chance or haphazard, they are actually yours. They are specifically yours, designed specifically for you by a part of you that loves you more than anything else.” That part of you that loves you more than anything else has created roadblocks to lead you to yourself. A roadblock means you can’t go that way, you have to find the real path. There is something telling you “You are not going in the right direction, look here, this way. That part of you loves you so much that it doesn’t want you to lose the chance. It will go to extreme measures to wake you up. It will make you suffer greatly if you don’t listen, what else can it do? That’s it’s purpose.” And that refers to upsets, anxiety, depression, physical illness, anything. So then consider that every time you get upset by “somebody or something” it is a part of you that guided you there, because there is something you need to learn.
When you get triggered be grateful and get curious. “What is the hole here? What is the emptiness? What is the loss? What am I missing here?” ” — I am so grateful to have studied Compassionate Inquiry this year with Dr. Gabor Mate and learning how to compassionately navigate my triggers. If you find yourself constantly emotionally reactive, please reach out and schedule an appointment with someone that can help you navigate your emotional waters. To this end, I offer a training program – if you feel ready to learn more, I encourage you to check it out.