Healing emotional triggers can be a gradual and sometimes challenging process, but there are several steps you can take to begin feeling more powerful and in control after going through a divorce.
First, let’s understand where these triggers come from so we can gain better self-awareness. Emotional triggers can come from a variety of sources, including past experiences, childhood conditioning, societal and cultural influences, and individual beliefs or perceptions.
Some emotional triggers may stem from traumatic experiences such as emotional, psychological, or physical abuse in a marriage, neglect as a child, or even loss or abandonment by a parent. These experiences can create pathways in the brain that can lead to heightened emotional responses when triggered by similar situations in the present. This is why most of the time our emotional triggers in romantic relationships are usually deeply connected to a need that was not met as a child and is often replaying in adult relationships.
Often times one may not be aware of the trigger’s root due to adapting to the behavior over time out of self-protection. However, a partner will punish and project onto their romantic partner for something their parent did to them as a child. Many times is this a subconscious defense mechanism playing out on a deeper level.
For example, if a child is consistently criticized for their appearance by a parent, they may develop a trigger around body image and feel shame or anxiety when they perceive criticism in this area. They may unconsciously seek out a partner then who is similar to the parent they struggled the most with growing up only for this partner to be emotionally abusive and shame them for their appearances all over again. This is how generational trauma continues. And, why an ex-partner may trigger the behavior we once experienced as a child. Until we heal the trauma the cycle typically continues in our adult relationships and becomes a repeated relational pattern.
Here are some strategies to consider when trying to heal emotional triggers:
Identify your triggers: The first step is to identify what situations or experiences trigger your emotional response. It may be helpful to keep a journal of situations that trigger in order to get to the underlying reason. Triggers may be sounds, sights, scents, situational, or emotional.
Understand the root cause: Once you have identified your triggers, it's important to understand the root cause of them. This may require some self-reflection and exploration of your past experiences and beliefs, even from childhood. What is causing you to feel unsafe or disrespected?
Develop coping strategies: Explore different coping strategies that work for you, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or reshaping or creating the experience in a way where you have control. Experiment with different strategies until you find what works best for you.
Determine the need: Core values are generally the opposite of the trigger. This is the need that is being neglected or unfulfilled. For example, feeling ignored may demonstrate a need for meaningful communication, while feeling disrespected may suggest setting a boundary for mutual respect.
Set boundaries: Sometimes, healing emotional triggers involves setting boundaries with others. This may mean saying no to certain situations or people that trigger you or communicating your needs and boundaries clearly to others. Boundaries allow you to feel safe and express your needs from a place of value rather than emotion. Learn more about our Boundary Badass method in our online courses.
Seek support: Finally, it's important to seek support from trusted friends, family members, or a coach who is experienced in healing trauma. Talking to someone who understands your struggles can be incredibly helpful, validating, and eye-opening in seeing just how valuable you truly are.
Remember that healing emotional triggers takes time and effort, but with persistence and the right techniques and support, it is possible to feel more powerful and in control.