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3 ways to move through trauma triggers

When you have difficult emotions triggered, it can feel like you are trapped in the moment. The tendency may be to do something to distract yourself from these feelings so that you don’t have to face them and deal with them head on, but here are three ways to move through your triggers instead of trying to avoid them.



Triggering is something we all deal with as humans, and unfortunately many of us experience triggers that are painful and emotionally charged such as grief or trauma. It can seem daunting to navigate your way through these types of triggers without feeling like you’re going crazy.


The tendency may be to do something to distract yourself from these feelings so that you don’t have to face them and deal with them head on, but here are three ways to move through your triggers instead of trying to avoid them.



Practice Self-Compassion


Sometimes, we get triggered because of life situations outside of our control. Those are times when self-compassion—being gentle and kind with yourself during difficult moments—is key. Remind yourself that you’re human. Set realistic expectations. Self-compassion may mean realizing that things won’t go your way all of the time, and deciding that’s okay. Rather than fighting your feeling, practice non-judgmental awareness by acknowledging what you feel without attaching emotions like shoulds or musts


Use intentional breathing


You’re not always in control of what enters your mind, but you can use intentional breathing to restore your calm and quell anxiety. When a trigger pops up, bring your attention to your breath. Slowly inhale for five seconds, and then slowly exhale for five seconds. Continue doing so until you feel more centered. This way, you’ll be less likely to react impulsively during stressful moments. To learn more about intentional breathing—and how it works with meditation—see here.


Talk through it


The first step to moving through a trigger is actually acknowledging that you have one. After a trigger has passed, take some time to journal or talk about what happened.


One way that people tend to avoid their triggers is by trying not to think about them—at all. This strategy tends not to work, though, because our minds naturally seek out what we’re avoiding.

For example, if you’re trying not to think about a pink elephant right now, you probably pictured one in your head at least once. So instead of trying so hard not to think about it, consider discussing it with someone who can help you through your pain point and take steps toward solving your issue or addressing your concern.

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