My triggers are not about my partner. They are about me.
A trigger is that instant of "fear" or "panic" that comes out of nowhere based on something unexpected has happened. It could be anything, like being told that I am going to speak in front of an audience, a car suddenly changing lanes in front of me, or my partner saying to me "Can we talk". It is something from my past that is causing me to react to an event, a situation, a even a comment in a way that might be considered "unreasonable" to somebody without that same trigger. It is an issue, trauma or belief from the past that is presenting itself to me because it has not been first recognized, and then properly dealt with.
My triggers, and my reactions, are MY issue. They are not my partners’ issue. My reaction is based on something that has happened to me that I have not yet taken the steps to heal. In a conscious relationship, I won’t let the trigger control the relationship, I will work with my partner to fix the trigger.
Unfortunately, what can often happen is that I will “trigger", and then act on that trigger in an attempt to coerce or punish my partner. I use my trigger as an excuse rather than addressing it. This type of acting out is likely not the best way to inspire my partner to be more giving, particularly if I am in search of a closer relationship. In fact, it tends to have the reverse effect. Once I trigger and start acting in an unreasonable manner, this creates a trigger in my partner and now there are 2 people acting unreasonably. Does this sound familiar?
Getting over my triggers is a process. It is not going to happen all at once. Initially, I cannot control the "emotion" of the trigger, but I can control my reaction. I can recognize the feeling of a trigger and begin to control what I do about it.
What should happen when I “trigger” is that I should allow myself to feel the knot in my stomach, without reacting to it. It might be an uneasy feeling, or a rush of adrenaline, that presents itself. I need to recognize it as a trigger, and then pause. I need to take a moment to think about what is happening. There is something from my past that is causing me to feel the way I am. What is it? I may not be able to figure it out right away....and that's okay. The key is to recognize that it is something from the past and that it is simply a trigger.
The next step is to put it into perspective. Think about what is happening right now. I need to determine if my feeling or fear in this current situation is justified? Is my partner guilty of what is triggering me, or is my trigger controlling the situation and creating a fear or issue that doesn’t exist? Or maybe it isn't my partner. Maybe it's my child, or my co worker, my dog, the neighbor, the loud noise....it could be anyone or anything.
The goal is to work through the feeling rather than react to it.
Over time, as I recognize all of my triggers and work through them, the intensity should start to reduce and I will start developing a new reaction to these situations. It will take some practice.
It is not my partners’ job to take care of me emotionally; it’s my job. My partner will hopefully want to help, but I must lead the way.
Don’t let the trigger control the relationship. Fix the trigger.