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When we have unhealed wounds within us, we can find ourselves being easily triggered by events, by things people say and do, by memories or associations, or by anything that reminds us of our pain. Often we don’t know why we’re being triggered by something or someone. We can find ourselves being highly reactive, volatile, even hostile. We can be increasingly sad, anxious and afraid. We can be confused and overwhelmed by our reactions. We haven’t yet developed an understanding around the unhealed pain within us.

One thing we can do for ourselves when we feel triggered is to stop judging ourselves for our reactions. Sometimes we are disappointed with ourselves for how we react. We’re frustrated with ourselves for still being in pain. Let’s try not to beat ourselves up, but to instead be gentle with ourselves. Give yourself the gift of your compassion and understanding. Remind yourself that you’ve experienced something very difficult, and that being triggered is a very common after-effect of trauma. Pain is a universal thing we all go through, and it is part of human nature to have difficult responses to our pain. As we grow, we learn how to cope with our pain in healthier ways. As we’re healing, we naturally start to have more control over our emotional responses. We’re able to respond to the things that were once triggering for us with more calm, ease and grace. We don’t feel so unsettled, uneasy or upset by triggering things. We find ways to calm ourselves down, through meditation, exercise or journaling.

In this place of gentle compassion, we can examine the wounds causing us to feel so triggered. What painful thing happened to you that you have yet to heal from? What within you is still unresolved? Let’s look at our triggers and follow the trail of clues they provide us. Our triggers are signs of unhealed wounds, and when we look at them closely and more deeply, they point us to the pain and fears we have yet to heal from. When you feel triggered, what pain comes to mind? What memories come up for you?

Take time to explore your triggers. This won’t be an easy or quick process. Enlist the support of a therapist, as the unhealed pain within you can continue to trigger you until you get to the root of the issues at hand. We can stop ourselves from being so easily triggered when we give time and energy to seeing what our triggers are trying to tell us. We can connect the dots between our heightened emotional responses and the deeper pain those responses are reflecting back to us.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.