Thursday, March 8, 2012

On triggers and disarming our inner landmines

We use the word "trigger" when we talk about someone/something that gives us an unpleasant feeling specifically because it relates to a bad experience or a negative issue we haven't worked through.

What he said really triggered me.
It triggers me when she talks about her boss.

I've used it, often back in my early days of Boulder, when every word with a new meaning—"manifest," "project," etc.—begged me to latch on to it, stitch it up in an invisible dictionary and toss it at unsuspecting East Coasters on my trips home.

For example:
Hey, sorry I'm late. But don't worry, I'm manifesting a parking spot right in front of the bar.
I think maybe you're projecting that on to me. Have you tried Emotional Freedom Technique?

But within this exciting world of New Age lexicon, what happens if we don't want to be triggered anymore, when we want to let go of and move through our issues?

Conscious communication gurus (like this guy and this couple, both of whom cradle me in sweet sanity in my darkest moments) teach us that nothing makes us feel a certain way; we own our emotions and we are the creators of how we feel. "You make me happy." No— "I feel happy when I'm around you."

When we say something triggers us, we give it power. Why frame it that way, blocking us from going inward toward further understanding? What does the trigger look like? Is it purple, black, red? What is its shape? Is it the shape of a golf ball, your mother's wedding ring, a ruler, a locker room? How does it smell, how does it taste?

My triggers taste like a French pastry (yes, I made this at Frasca's Caffe).

I'm trying to be grateful to people who trigger me, toward reframing the idea of a trigger and saying instead: this person reminds me that I have armory around, that I have things inside that can explode. Let's disarm the system; let's take out the bullets so there is nothing that can hurt me.

Instead of, "He triggers me," how about, "He helps me to notice my intricate and treacherous inner landscape of security sensors and landmines, and begin the journey toward disarming them." Over an almond-milk latte. On a sunny Boulder no-work weekday.


1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. We are in control of our own emotions, and as a friend would say, our own hurt.