A trauma trigger is something that sets off a particular response, usually an emotional one. If you have ever been “triggered,” you know how intense the feeling can be.
Internal vs External Trauma Trigger
Trauma triggers can be internal or external, and they are created through experience and conditioning.
Internal trauma triggers are created internally, usually as a result of our own experiences or memories. For example, if you have ever been in a traumatic situation, you may experience flashbacks or intrusive thoughts that trigger intense emotions.
External trauma triggers are things that happen outside of ourselves, and they can be anything from a sound to a smell. Seeing someone on the street who looks like our abuser, for example, can be an external trauma trigger.
PTSD and Trauma Triggers
Trauma triggers can be a major factor in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). If you are constantly being exposed to triggers, it can be very difficult to manage your emotions and stay healthy. Triggers can cause flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and other symptoms that can be very disruptive to your life.
How to deal with PTSD Triggers
It is important to learn how to cope with triggers, especially if you have PTSD or CPTSD. One way to do this is by creating a safety plan. A safety plan is a plan that helps you manage your triggers and stay safe when you are feeling overwhelmed.
There are many different ways to create a safety plan. One way is to identify your trauma triggers and then come up with a list of coping strategies. Coping strategies can be anything from relaxation techniques to grounding exercises. You can also create a list of people that you can reach out to when you are feeling triggered.
You could also create a physical or digital safe space. A physical safe space is somewhere that you can go to when you are feeling overwhelmed. It could be your bedroom, a friend’s house, or a therapy office. A digital safe space is an online community or forum where you can find support and connect with other people who are dealing with triggers.
How is a trauma trigger created?
Triggers are created through experience and conditioning. If we are repeatedly exposed to a certain thing or situation, we may start to associate that with a particular feeling or emotion. For example, if you were abused by someone with a particular accent, you may start to feel anxious or scared every time you hear that accent. This is because your brain has associated that sound with danger and fear.
How can we cope with trauma triggers?
How can we cope with triggers? The first step is to identify them.
Once you know what they are, you can start to develop strategies to safeguard yourself. Some people find it helpful to have a list of coping mechanisms that they can turn to when they are feeling overwhelmed. Others opt to talk to someone about their triggers, either in person or through a support group. There are also people find relief in grounding techniques such as focusing on the five senses. Whatever strategy you choose, make sure that it works for you and that you are comfortable with it.
A trauma trigger can be very overwhelming, but there is hope. By understanding what triggers are and how they work, you will slowly start to free yourself from these distressing reactions. Remember, you are not alone. There is support available for you.
For Further Reading
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – What Is PTSD, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
- Complex PTSD (CPTSD): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
- The Linen Cupboard Metaphor – Traumatic Memories and PTSD
- Can You Get PTSD From Narcissistic Abuse? The Toxic Impact of the Narcissist
- PTSD Awareness Month – Everything You Need to Know About PTSD
- PTSD in Men: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
- Adverse Childhood Experiences and PTSD: What’s the Connection?
- What is a Trauma Trigger and What Does Being “Triggered” Mean?
- Hypervigilance: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
- 7 Signs Complex Trauma Is Impairing Your Relationship
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