Maplewood Counseling

Relationship Triggers

How to Deal When You Get Triggered
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Relationship Triggers & How to Cope

We work with so many couples and understand how triggers can cause big problems in any relationship. If you have had a lot of challenging experiences in the past, especially childhood trauma and difficult experiences, you may get triggered by others easily.

The problem when you get triggered:

  • Causes you to lash out at the trigger.
  • Causes you to withdraw in silence.

Lashing out at the trigger can make you rage by yelling, screaming, criticizing, name calling, or act out physically against your partner, child or others who trigger you.

Maybe you shut down when triggered. The wall goes up and you check out emotionally or actually leave physically.

We understand triggers as unconscious seeds based on conditioning. Usually there is something very old – maybe you felt you did not matter or felt like you could not trust the adults to be caring and nurturing and childhood experiences were unsafe emotionally and sometimes physically. So, when your partner, child, or other unsuspecting person triggers you, the same awful feeling can be triggered. Unfortunately, the feeling is nowhere near conscious awareness and is just quickly acted on without any understanding of the true source.

We try to help people work on what to do when triggered. How to find healthier ways of understanding, then communicating in a more skillful way so you don’t destroy your close relationships.  This takes time and we have compassion for how challenging this can be and can help with the process.

Secure attachment is the ideal form of attachment. This means someone grew up in an atmosphere that fostered the 4 S’s Safe, Seen, Soothed, creates Secure Attachment

  • Feelings of Safety – you could express all types of feeling openly without threat of being crushed, ridiculed, criticized, or abused in other ways.
  • Feeling Seen – you felt seen when you expressed your feelings because parents and other adults were understanding or at least trying to convey an empathetic response.
  • Feeling Soothed –  you felt the parents or other adults were able to comfort you in any number of ways. “I’m sorry you are feeling sad,”  “I am sorry you are angry “ about ….”what can I do to help? Do you need a hug?”
  • Doing this over and over creates an atmosphere of security that allows the child to develop into an adult that has many tools for a healthy relationship.
  • If you did not experience secure attachment style as a child, your adult relationships can help you heal or confuse you. You might be reliving those earlier painful experiences with all of those unpleasant feelings that you felt when you were younger.

Therapy can help you understand your triggers and do a better job of dealing with them. If your triggers are causing big problems in your relationships, please reach out for help.  You can break these painful patterns. We can help.

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