The Trouble With Triggers

Ugh, I did it again. In this video, I talk about minimizing triggers while my cat Ned upstages me. It’s a huge subject to cover in only three minutes, so how do you think I did? (Transcript is under the break)

“Hey, it’s Mike. Today I want to talk about triggers. “Trigger warning”, “I was triggered when LaLaLand almost won Best Picture”, “triggered avocados”. Okay, that last one means something different. But the political arguments online and in person are heating up. I’d like to think I’m a sensitive and emotionally intelligent human being, and if you’re like me, it might seem easier to just pull the covers over your head and sleep in for the next four years.

But avoiding conflict isn’t going to help anyone. We’re all going to be called upon to be a lot stronger in the four years ahead, both for ourselves, and for those less privileged than us. As emotional creatures, it’s natural to be angry lately, to be more politically active than we’ve ever felt before. So, let’s work on reducing the impact of what triggers us.

First of all, what’s a trigger? It’s usually a comment or an action that leaves you feeling unexpectedly angry, or anxiety-ridden, or depressed. The first part of reducing the impact of triggers is digging down deep to identify 1) what the specific trigger is, and 2) what was the origin of this trigger, what was the very first time you felt it?

For example, in my recent dating history, my anxiety spikes through the roof when someone ghosts me, or when someone breaks up with me in a shitty, sudden way, I feel abandoned and unloved. I dug deep and realized these feelings got their genesis when my brother passed away suddenly when I was young.

The second part of reducing your triggers is to brainstorm alternatives. Now, you know how the saying goes: the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result every time? Well, that’s just a saying, it’s not actually the definition of crazy. But! There’s a kernel of truth there. For example, if hearing the president’s voice or seeing his racist, sexist orange face on TV triggers your anxiety, do something different: look for the transcript later, so you still can still sift through the litterbox of what he said, but just not be triggered by the voice or face of a rapist.

In the end, you are in charge of your triggers, not the other way around. You’re smarter than them too, because you can figure them out, not the other way around.

No one said reducing the impact of your triggers was easy. If it feels like hard work, if it feels like homework, you’re probably doing it right. Also, if you really don’t think you can “fix” your triggers, then don’t, but do try to make a stand for your mental health and at least avoid situations that will likely trigger you, like social media. Be nice to yourself. We’re all in this together. and we’ve all got each others’ backs.

Until next time, I’m Michael James Schneider, aka BLCKSMTH, aka triggered avocado. Keep punching Nazis.”

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