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Are Triggers Actually a Growth Test?
Most people try to avoid triggers at all costs. Why? Because nobody likes to remember a traumatic experience, let alone feel the emotions associated with said event such as fear, upset, or anger.
I’m right there with you, and yet lately I’ve found myself being triggered quite a lot.
For those of you who don’t know me, I have lived a rollercoaster life underpinned by co-dependent, toxic relationships that affected my health on every level — emotionally, mentally, and physically. At my lowest point I wanted to die, because living had become unbearable to me. Instead, I chose to live, but that meant changing. And so, my healing journey began…
So back to the triggers…
Of course, triggers have been present throughout my years of healing, but this is the first time they have surfaced in the form of a romantic relationship.
Whilst incredibly frustrating because, after all, I have spent years working through my trauma and feel confident in all the changes I have made in my life due to this healing work, as I move through this relatively new relationship, l am also realising how much of a growth opportunity these triggers are for me. Am I truly able to make the unfamiliar familiar when it comes to matters of the heart?
I’ll share an example with you. To some, this may seem silly, but in my experience, triggers are rarely rational…
One night when my boyfriend stayed over, his snoring woke me up. I turned his head as this often solves the problem. Yet a little while later, it happened again. By the third time his snoring woke me up it was 4:00 in the morning and I was exhausted. My reaction was to go to my guest room in an attempt to get at least some sleep. Alas, a mere two hours later my dog woke up and started barking like crazy because I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. As soon as he found me, he calmed down, but I had to get up to take him out. All in all, I didn’t get more than a few hours of sleep the entire night.
That morning I felt angry, even bitter. Angry because I was exhausted and cranky, bitter because I had chosen to sacrifice my needs and comfort for someone else again.
Upon being woken up the first time, I could have simply woken my boyfriend and asked him to go to the other room. Instead, my default was to prioritise his need for sleep over mine, his comfort over mine (it’s my bed after all), and his overall wellbeing over mine. TRIGGER!
Even though he of course did not snore or wake me up on purpose, I felt anger towards him. But more than that, I felt angry at myself — for falling back into old, destructive and self-sacrificing patterns.
In my past I would have suppressed the emotions, convinced myself that it wasn’t a big deal because it wasn’t his fault, and moved on. Yet that approach led me to exhaustion, resentment, and always feeling ‘less than’.
Fortunately, I was able to approach the situation very differently now using techniques such as self-parenting, mindfulness, meditation, and most importantly, having the clarity and confidence to address the issue with my partner from a place of care as well as boundary setting.
Moreover, it was another opportunity for me to see how he would respond. Would he tell me to stop fussing over nothing? Would he ignore the issue completely? Would he tell me it’s my own fault for not waking him? …. All of which would have been major red flags.
In case you’re wondering, he did not do any of those things. He expressed empathy, he showed affection, he apologised, and he said to absolutely wake him up if it ever happens again. In other words, definitely a green flag for proceeding with the relationship.
Yay for growth!
If your relationships have left you unfulfilled to date and you’re keen to understand your WHY, learn how to recognise red flags, acquire a multitude of coping mechanisms when you are triggered, and feel seen and supported throughout the process, then consider joining my 8 week Make Your Body Your Boss program. You can learn more about that here.
Wherever you are on your journey, always remember that YOU ARE ENOUGH.
About the Author
Name: Veronica Weedon
Professional Title: Founder
Bio: Veronica Weedon is an Integrative Health & Relationship Coach focused on helping people heal on an emotional, mental and physical level after toxic relationships and break the abuse cycle for good. To learn more about her work visit www.revivalhealth.ch.
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