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  • Writer's pictureAmy G Nash

What are triggers?

Updated: Apr 2

Woman sleeping after being overwhelmed.

For some, the word "trigger' has a negative connotation. Thanks, Pop psychology, for misinformation or portraying struggles as a weakness.

To understand triggers, you first have to understand trauma. We cannot just "let it go" as pop psychology and some groups would have us believe. We have to process the trauma.

Bessel van der Kolk's research has shown that trauma is NOT a psychological event. It is a physiological event that changes how the brain operates, blocking neural pathways, and altering how we perceive the world and danger. See to learn more about this.

In trauma, this brain perceives everyday stressors as dangerous. When an incident is close to what we experienced in the past, such as an abusive tone of voice, a smell from a time that was frightening, a word that was used to shame or abuse, our brains react by springing into high alert. We will suddenly feel overwhelmed and our fight or flight response will kick in.

We get overwhelmed.

It is as simple as that.

Do you frequently feel overwhelmed?

Are there times when you want to run and hide, or turn and fight?

Do folks around you question your reaction as "inappropriate" or "overboard"?

You may be getting triggered. Triggers are letting you know that you are re-experiencing a past event that affected you profoundly.

Don't live a life feeling overwhelmed repeatedly. Seek help. It can change your life.

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