Recently I went through two situations that were significant emotional triggers for me. I am aware of many of my emotional triggers and things that may cause stress, but these two situations hit me out of nowhere. The first situation was a Caucasian woman asking me was it ok to sing a “slave song” as a tribute to another African America. I was crazy shocked. First I was like what is a “slave song.” Two why did she feel the need to seek me out and approach me about it. Three why did she think that singing this type of song to someone who is of age to have lived through segregation appropriate.
After doing some digging and asking some questions, I learned that the song she wanted to sing was about segregation. To me, that is even worst. The justification of this woman actions is what caused the negative feelings of emotions. After a few weeks of this person approaching me, the problem was “rectified.” However, at the end of the conversation, I was told that I should be ok with this behavior because of the upbringing of this women and her lack of awareness. Excuse me, red flags all over the place. Her upbringing cannot be an excuse when she is over 50. I felt hurt, to me, it was just another situation that I had sought help with only to be turned down.
The second situation was with a family member making a decision that could have significant effects on a child’s life. I noticed the negative trigger of emotions after I replayed several conversations I had with other family members outside of the situations. I was doing more of an emotional casting than a giving advice. It was all about what I have been through than presenting the facts at hand. Not a good look at all.
Dealing with unrequited love, abandonment, or abuse can leave a mess in your life. Even with this mess all of us still have to work, take care of our families and keep going on with everyday life. There will always be things that will get you down, stops you in your tracks or makes you feel like you can’t keep going. I find that identifying these things helps make life a little easier. You can better prepare yourself and have processes in place that support you get back to sunny days and blue skies. Learning your stressors and triggers are extremely important.
What are Stressors VS Triggers
Psychology’s definition of stressors is an event, experience, or environmental stimulus that causes stress in an individual. Simple put stressors are things that cause internal or external pressure. Some natural and typical examples of stressor are bills, work, relationships, and public speaking to name a few.
Triggers are things or events that bring you back to past traumas. It can be through sight, sound, taste, smell or touch. The two situations that I described earlier were triggers, and because I knew what my triggers are it was easy to see that these situations triggered me. Note that triggers can cause an extreme level of stress, primarily if inappropriately managed.
How to Identify your Stressors and Triggers
I stated before that stressors can occur every day. They are also easier to identify. What are things in your life that are causing you stress? Your stressors don’t have to be negative either they can be positive also. For me, my negative stressors are my bills, sometimes my job, and other things that I feel like I can’t control. Some positive stressors are interviews, starting a new career, public speaking, meeting new people and my blog. I want to give great content, so sometimes I stress over what I’m writing or my ideas.
Identifying your triggers takes a little more time to recognize. You may not be in situations daily that re-trigger a past trauma. At least I hope you are not. While evaluating your triggers, always ask yourself the four or five easy things: WHO and WHAT, WHEN, HOW, and WHY. WHO and WHAT caused you to have a trigger? Was it somebody reminded you of your past trauma or what sounds that are related to it. WHEN did you notice you may have been affected by the situation you are reviewing. HOW did you react emotionally or physically? Did you start crying, yelling, you began to pace across the floor. WHY do the current situation trigger you.
If you remember the story about the lady at the beginning of my blog, we can see how I narrow down my issue. WHO; in this instance the Caucasian lady that asked the question and the Caucasian man that invalidated my problem with the matter. WHEN; after being refuted by the man telling me I had to see past it because of her upbringing. HOW; besides the fact that I was angry, I lack motivation for a little, I cried and became mentally drained for a few days. I felt like I was in a haze. WHY; it reminded me of my childhood and not having my feeling outwardly validated.
Working to manage your stressors and triggers like any process of healing, does not happen overnight, but putting in the work to better control our stressor and trigger can make for a happier life. Try the who, what, when, where, and how when trying to identifying your triggers and let me know how they worked for you. Please leave a comment here and or IG or tweet me your thoughts. Next week we will look at some coping skills that can help you in a stressful situation or when you are triggered. Subscribe so that you won’t miss the next post.
Peace, Love, and Healing
3 thoughts on “Containing the Mess Part 1: Stressor vs Triggers”
Ms.hawkins thank you for posting these blogs it has given me perspective on what it means to be a human being and understand what effect I have to those closest around me.
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