When we look around the world right now we see a lot of anger, frustration, personal attacks and condemnation, division and separation. Left and right, people are being triggered by the values, beliefs and ideas of others. Buttons are being pushed as people lash out at one another to defend their views, make themselves right and the other person wrong. What the heck is going on? Emotional triggers explained…

What Is A Trigger?

A trigger is anything that helps you bring to the surface or recall a traumatic memory from your past. It can be a word, an object, a person a behaviour or action, a sensation, a face, a place, or any situation or thing that causes you to feel unsettled or fearful. You might feel anxious, nervous, sick, hurt, or uneasy and not sure why. But your subconscious mind knows, and it is trying to help you.

When a trigger is experienced it may prompt irrational and unexplained behaviours and actions. The trigger prompts an automatic reaction only to the trigger and all other sensory information is ignored. When triggered, we cannot see or hear logic, or consider other perspectives, views or information objectively.

We know we feel triggered by something or someone when we feel agitated, anxious or frustrated. We hold onto the situation and refuse to let it go. We react automatically with thoughts, emotions, words, actions or behaviours that we feel we cannot control.

When someone is triggered or their buttons are pushed, the response can be viewed by others as irrational and even insane.

Unresolved Trauma

To understand why triggers occur, we need to understand trauma and resolution of trauma.

Trauma is the result of an unresolved incident caused by an overwhelming amount of physical, mental, emotional, relational or spiritual stress that exceeds the ability to cope with the distress.

To resolve is to solve a problem, end a difficulty or make a decision formally or with determination.

When we experience something we cannot resolve physically, mentally or emotionally this creates trauma. Trauma is held in the body as energy with the frequency of unresolved, conflicting and trapped emotions and thoughts.

Trauma can be created by an external event, situation, person, thing or condition that creates stress or distress. The level of tolerance of stress and distress and the ability to handle stress is different for everyone. What is enjoyable for one person, such as a roller coaster ride, might be terrifying for another. No wound or trauma is more or less valid or legitimate than another.

What is trauma to one may or may not be trauma to another.

Trauma is often created in childhood and can range from being born into the world, being yelled at for making a mess to being bullied or physically or sexually abused. Trauma is not only what exists and is experienced by an individual but also what is missing such as neglect and the absence of physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual support.

Separation From Trauma

Incidents of trauma can occur dozens or hundreds of times in childhood. Trauma comes from confused and conflicting thoughts and our needs not being met.

A child cannot understand why a parent who is supposed to love them, would hit them or hurt them. If a child deserves to be hit or hurt how can they be loved? Does it mean someone loves you if they hit or hurt you?

A child is told to be quiet when they speak up for want they need or want. They are told to be quiet, to be seen or not heard. Does this mean they are not worthy or deserving of having what they need? Does this mean their thoughts and needs are not important? Does this mean they should be quiet even when they need to say something?

In these situations, the confusing and conflicting thoughts and emotions are not expressed externally and resolved. They remain within us, waiting for an opportunity to rise to the surface and express themselves so we can properly process and understand them and let them go. They remain within us, waiting for a trigger to help them emerge.

When we are triggered, whatever need was not met at the time of the trauma, fights to be met. Whatever part of us we discarded, punished, hid or ignored fights to be seen, heard, valued, acknowledged or loved.

Healing Trauma Through Triggers

A trigger brings the energy of trauma to the surface along with the associated thoughts and emotions for it to be resolved.

A trigger is an opportunity to heal trauma and a wound and resolve the conflicting and confusing thoughts and emotions associated with it.

A trigger is a messenger for the unhealed parts of our soul.

We heal our traumas when we are conscious and aware. We heal our traumas when we know we are being triggered and choose to hold back from an unconscious, emotional and irrational reaction and behaviour – just for a moment. We heal our traumas when we consider the emotions and thoughts that arise in response to a trigger and why we think and feel that way. We heal our traumas when we consider what is the unmet need arising from the trigger, and how can we meet it now. We heal our traumas when we face them front on and see, hear and accept them for what they are. We heal our traumas when we choose to pay attention.

We perpetuate our traumas when we allow our childish thoughts and emotions to run unchecked.

We perpetuate our traumas when we are unconscious, unaware and deny they even exist.

Collective Trauma

Planet Earth is in a time of great turmoil and change. Never before have we seen such separation and divide, triggered by opposing values, ideals and beliefs. Never before have we seen so many people so easily abuse, berate and name-call others with no thought or regret.  Never before have we seen such anger, fear, frustration, intolerance, malice, hate and divide.

What is happening on planet Earth is a mass eruption of collective shadow and trauma.

What is happening on planet Earth is the opportunity both individually and collectively to heal old trauma and wounds that are coming to the surface.

What is happening on planet Earth is an opportunity for great, great change.

Instead, we are seeing the perpetuation of anger, frustration, separation and division.

What we are seeing is individual trauma and unresolved emotions arising and expressing collectively.

What we are seeing is human beings who at their core are traumatised children, acting out in response to the triggers of fear, separation and divide.

What Can You Do?

When someone says or does something stupid, that makes you angry, frustrated or mad, it’s because you are being triggered and allowed to heal, and they are a gift.

When someone says or does something hurtful or hateful to you or someone else, do not react with angry or frustrated words, violent action or irrational behaviour… Do not try to make them wrong, see your way or view, have the last word, or be right. Do not shut them down, shame, humiliate, deny, disown or discard them.

Instead, consider the trauma and wound you feel and what you need instead. Consider the trauma and would they feel and what they need instead. Consider how you can be the one to give yourself and them what they need and attempt to heal one more wound and resolve one more trauma in the world.

When someone says or does something that offends, imposes or intrudes and triggers you, stand up for yourself for sure. But choose to do so in a way that heals and meets your needs without triggering them right back.

Choose to be more conscious and aware, shift and make a change, or choose to perpetuate and poke the wound.

The choice is yours.

…Liz Watt

PS… If you have any questions or thoughts about emotional triggers, what is going on in the world right now how or how you can live on your terms, let me know in the comments or at

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