Dealing with Past Trauma Triggers

It is rough going for many of us that have had past trauma in our lives.  You spend so much time wishing that your past was something different… you try to push it down…. out run the fears…. change your patterns… get help… and yet… there you are TRIGGERED once again.

We all want the pain to end.  We all want to just heal and be strong and not have to deal with the crap any more.  And the truth is… well… the truth is not easy … because the truth is that triggers are still going to happen.  I know, you don’t want to hear this but take it from one who knows… you will be all the better if you realize that while the trauma was not in your control… the way you use the past can help you today.

Let’s get real for a moment about trauma… shall we? The pain and hurt triggers are there for a reason. They are there to tell us that things were not right.  It is our personal indicator that what happened (or is happening) isn’t good for us.  Without this response, we  probably wouldn’t be here today. We would just push on no matter the pain to our detriment.

So once you have space from the trauma … you want it to be done and gone. There is nothing wrong with this desire. It is real and important. However, without dealing with the emotions of what happened (this does not mean you have to focus on the details of the events) your brain will probably repeat the process in other relationships. Your brain learned a specific way to interpret being cared for… and if it is crisscrossed with trauma, your brain naturally is confused.  If you don’t take the time to untangle the messages your brain understands as fear, pain, caring, and safety… you will probably also have really strong reactions to experiences that wouldn’t call for such a drastic response.

You realize all this… you go into therapy and you find you get stronger and heal a bunch. All good… right?  Yes… all good… AND the unspoken reality is even with growth and therapy and healing … your brain is going to be scared in certain situation. You can breathe through, do things in the moment to change the details, but the pain/fear is real.  I could claim that it will all go away forever with time, pop psyche would love to have you believe that, but I just haven’t ever seen that in reality.

What is real is that you were deeply hurt, you are dealing with it, it diminishes, AND the residue of the trauma will always be a part of you.  However, you ability to change your life, take that past pain and create a more secure and stable environment is just as real. There is something deeply powerful about knowing that you are moving beyond what was done _to_ you and instead are creating a life _for_ you!

Yes, you might be in the kitchen learning to cook something new… and all of a sudden you realize that you are terrified of what the outcome will be … not because of anything currently happening… but instead based on the trauma of the past… and you want to cry and run away.  Instead… you breathe through…. you gather yourself together…. you remember that this is now and not the past… you deeply sigh and wish this wasn’t all still a part of your… AND then … you start to LIVE your life again…by stirring the ingredients and becoming present to what you are doing.   Yep, you just experienced a trigger and didn’t allow the past to keep you hostage… but rather found the freedom of moving forward.  Congrats… you just took control!

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