Triggering is a (typically) subconscious, spontaneous reaction to some sort of stimuli.
The reaction is usually out of proportion to the trigger, and can include: fear, anger, rage, sadness, panic, flashbacks, pain, emotional disconnect, self pity, etc. When triggered our thinking moves to our “fight or flight” or self preservation mode of thinking.
The addict typically responds by attempting to avoid the rising pain and seeks comfort or reward.
What triggers us is not always obvious. Typically there are two triggers: the first trigger touches us deeply but we bravely set it aside, but it still festers in us; and when there is a second trigger (however minor) it pushes us over the edge.
Trigger #1: I argue with a coworker, and lose the argument. I feel bad, but I tell myself that I am OK, maybe some self talk, but I’m OK!
Trigger #2: I work all day and feel tired. I feel overworked or taken advantage of, so I “need” comfort or deserve a reward, so I indulge in my addiction. (The turmoil from the previous day’s argument was slow burning within me, making me vulnerable.)
Neither triggers 1 nor 2 were painful enough to push me into my addiction, but the combination of the two is.
When you have unresolved trauma, you live with that constant weight (or shadow), and are far more susceptible to being triggered.
- Keep a journal and track your day-to-day experiences.
- When triggered into indulging in your addiction review what was happening in the hours and days before that. Look for patterns so you can identify your triggers.
- Pray, when you are going into a situation that is likely to trigger you, that you will be safe or insulated from the trigger, and also avoid those situations.
- Long term make peace with and seek healing of your triggers, understand that the trigger is not the problem, it is a symptom.
When triggered pray:
- Jesus what is the lie I am believing?
Identify the lie
- Jesus what is the truth?
Proclaim the truth out loud:
- I reject the lie (lie from above) and I proclaim the truth (the truth the Lord revealed).
Thank you Lord for you love and healing.
Simple Spiritual Diaphragmatic Breathing is another method that may help pull us back from the edge once we are triggered.
It is very difficult to avoid trigger/addictive behaviour once we are triggered, because it alters the way our brains function. Once triggered we step into behaviours that we would simply avoid when not triggered. Our ultimate freedom comes from doing the (often hard) work of healing, and the best results we see are empowered through Jesus.