What’s a trigger?

A trigger is any experience that causes you to suddenly feel sad, fearful, vulnerable or uncomfortable. Basically any negative emotion with no obvious, conscious reason. They can hit at any time but usually, it is because of something that has happened that reminds us subconsciously of a past hurt or negative experience. It could be a song or a smell or a place you visit or drive by every day. This is very common for someone that has been involved in an abusive relationship.

Disclaimer: I am not a therapist or counselor. I am a life coach. Everything written here is simply based on my own experience in an attempt to inspire others.

Triggers can suddenly put you in a tailspin and make it hard to focus, breathe and perform daily tasks.

Some signs of a trigger can be a racing heart, sweating, trouble catching your breath, feeling of oncoming doom or feeling sick to your stomach. Out of the blue, you may feel like crying, running away or shouting. Maybe you feel anger, shame or helpless. Triggers can also cause us to overeat or just binge on anything not good for us. They can also cause us to sit frozen and feeling hopeless, unable to move forward or focus on the tasks at hand.

As an abuse survivor, it is very important to learn to recognize when a trigger hits. Realize you are not defective or crazy, or even incapable, maybe just a little beat up or tired. Learn to be kind to yourself when this happens. Self-love is critical. When you do recognize this is happening, have an automatic default you can go to to get you out of it. Make sure you have a pre-planned thought to turn things around. Remember what we focus on is how we feel.

Something like deep breathing, a good belly laugh (or two or three), taking a walk, getting some sunshine, calling a trusted friend, playing with your pet. Make sure it is something that makes you feel safe and loved. The more you learn to recognize a trigger and stop it the better you will become at staying in the present and in a positive mindset.

As you pay attention and watch for triggers you will learn to recognize them when they hit. And trust me, the more you watch for them the better you will become at catching them before they disable you.

Examples of my triggers:




Seeing someone angry – anywhere, TV, on the road, etc.


For you, a trigger might be a song or a smell, really anything that can bring back a memory or emotion. The important part is to learn to watch for a trigger and stop it cold so it doesn’t stop you.

The next time you feel any of these things start to get to you stop, slow down, take a few deep breaths and consciously remind yourself that you are safe! You are doing great things and God is on your side. He knows you and loves you. Always has, always will!

Do you have any good tips for stopping triggers in their tracks? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Know a friend who needs this? Be sure to share! ❤️

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