You have the power to choose how you respond to a trigger? 


A trigger is something that occurs today and takes you back to an experience or moment in time and can be both positive and negative. I am talking about the one that hurt, caused pain, anger, fear, or whatever that moment was to you.


The smell of smoke can be a trigger.

If your trauma is associated with a specific smell like cigarette smoke, the simple whiff of smoke could trigger you.

What does a trigger look like and how does it show up? Triggers can occur in many different forms. Because our experiences are unique, each person will respond differently when triggered. 


A trigger may be a scent like perfume or cologne, something cooking in the kitchen, a campfire, smell of the smoke from a pipe, cigar or cigarette. It’s a scent or smell you connect with the experience you had in the past. It may be a sound. The sound of a cabinet opening and a glass being pulled out, keys dropped on the counter, a car door opening, the house door opening or the doorbell ringing. Different sounds that may cause you to revert to the past experience. 


A trigger may be a word or phrase. Maybe mom said something to you today, that she used to say to you in the past that hurt.  


They come without warning at different times of day and during different circumstances. You could be having the best time of your life, a sound happens and immediately, you are taken back to that place in time where you felt pain, fear or anger. When this happens, you have the opportunity to experience the moment differently. You have the opportunity to decide how you’re going to choose to respond. 


Oftentimes, a trigger will occur, and it’ll create an emotional response like crying, depression, anger, helplessness or some other response that leaves you feeling out of control of your emotions.  That reminder took you back to that moment. You’re there in your mind hurting and now your body is releasing cortisol, creating anxiety and you’re feeling all the emotions, as if you’re there. 


How can you respond in a way that’s healthier, that’s more productive and supports your healing journey? Become aware and acknowledge the trigger is the first step. 


Let’s walk through a trigger scenario. 

You are out and about, running errands and you smell a cologne that instantly reminds you of this experience that caused fear and pain. You can choose to allow the smell to hijack your emotions, or you can choose to become aware and acknowledge the triggered emotions. 


Say to yourself, all right – I smell you, I see you, I feel you and I understand this smell is not causing me pain today. I remember this pain and I’m choosing to stay present now, free from the pain. I’m in control of my emotions, and how I will respond. That past experience is not going to hijack my emotions because that was the past and I don’t live in the past. Thank you for reminding me how far I’ve come. Now, I choose to move on with my day in control of my thoughts. 


By practicing this, you are consciously making your brain aware that you are in control of your response. Now, take a deep breath, breathe in and exhale slowly. Speak out loud to yourself, I am safe, I am in control, I am here today, I am present today and I choose to be the victor in my life. I am owning how I respond to this trigger. I am the victor in my life. 


When you remain in control of your emotions, you are no longer surrendering your power to the experience that hurt you. You are in reality, STANDING IN YOUR POWER. To learn more about how resistance in your healing journey click here.