Category: Triggers

What do I do with Triggers?

Sometimes when life is going fairly well, you can still get hit with a trigger out of the blue.  You are able to see that the situation is a trigger and not based in reality (Sariah at Back Pocket Yoga calls this trigger vs. truth).  When this happens sometimes it seems logical to push the trigger away, or try to ignore it and move on with life. Often if we try this approach we find the trigger lingering.  It can be more helpful to validate yourself in the situation. Consider, “is it normal for me to have been triggered by this situation based on my past life circumstances?” More often than not you will find that being triggered is a normal Betrayal Trauma response.  Hold some space for that thought: this is a normal response to my circumstances. Don’t shame yourself, or push the reaction away, or ignore it, or freak out. Just accept it and hold space for it. Breathe into that validation. It is amazing how this can clear your mind and bring relief.  Relief that this is normal and an acceptable reality to be in.

Once you have validated yourself, and have accepted your reality you are in a better space through which to process, assess your situation, and move forward.

Healing Comes With Safety

For those healing from Betrayal Trauma, one of the first things that needs to be assessed is their current emotional safety.  If they are not emotionally safe, nothing we do in therapy will be very healing. This is one of the reasons I believe that couples therapy is often not useful very early in the recovery/healing process.  The betrayed spouse needs to develop boundaries, and the betraying spouse needs to find some emotional stability and sobriety. Both of these are necessary for them to hold space for the third entity, the relationship, which includes the pain and issues both people bring to it.  Individual healing and recovery must occur to the point where couples are in a space to work on the relationship. Therefore, couples therapy is indicated either when that individual healing and recovery is underway, or when there is a need for conversations as a couple in the development of safety and healing (such as working out the setting of specific safety boundaries, or determining together what “recovery” or “sobriety” looks like as defined by the couple themselves).

The analogy I use is that of a PTSD war vet.  No one would ever conceive of convincing a war veteran to heal and work through his PTSD before he has left combat (technically at that point he wouldn’t be a veteran, but you see the point).  The trauma is ongoing. There needs to be a level of safety present before healing can be attempted. For the betrayal trauma spouse, that safety is boundaries.  

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