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Ep #109: Understanding Triggers | Becoming You Again Podcast

For someone going through a divorce, feeling triggered can seem like a daily occurrence. The trigger can be somewhat expected, like your anniversary or knowing you'll see your ex in court the next day. And often the trigger will be unexpected, like hearing that song playing in the background at the grocery store, or hearing the tone of someone's voice.

When you feel triggered you have the stimulus (trigger) and then your automatic nervous system response without any space in between to choose how you want to react in those moments.

In this episode you'll learn the three types of triggers. You'll learn how having better understanding of your triggers will help you create space between the stimulus and your response, leaving you feeling less powerless in your life and instead more powerful and in control.

You'll be given a simple four step process to help you release the triggers when they show up in a healthy, self caring, compassionate way.

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Grief and trauma are the two biggest struggles women deal with as they go through their divorce. It's highly likely that you are experiencing both and don't even realize what you're feeling. I'm here to tell you that it's okay for you to grieve your marriage (even if was shitty) and it's normal to be experiencing some kind of trauma (which is essentially a disconnection from yourself (your mind, body and soul). I can help guide you through the grief in all of the forms it show up so you can heal. I can also teach you how to ground yourself in healing so you can ease through the trauma. Schedule your free consult by clicking here.

Featured on this episode:

  1. Interested in the Divorce Betrayal Transformation? Learn more here.

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  3. Want to work first hand with Karin so you can stop worrying about what your life will be like after divorce, and instead begin making it amazing today? Click here to schedule a consult to find out more about working 1:1 with Karin as your coach.

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Full Episode Transcript:


I'm Karin Nelson and you're listening to Becoming You Again, episode number 109.


Welcome to Becoming You Again the podcast to help with your mental and emotional well being during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the trauma of your divorce by reconnecting with yourself creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life, so your life will be even better than when you were married. I'm your host, Karin Nelson.


Hello, my friends, how are you all doing? I'm actually doing really great. I've had a good couple of weeks, the spring is keeping us very busy here in our household.


My son is actually turning 18 Very soon. And then a week after that is my partner's daughter's birthday. And then a week after that is my partner's son's birthday. And then it's going to be basically graduation for my son. He is 18. And he's graduating from high school. And then in between there, my daughter is leaving for Germany for three months. And it just kind of seems like everything is going on. And then of course, after graduation, it's going to be summer. And then we all know how quickly summer goes right? It just seems to fly by. And we are getting ready to foster a cat for a few months for a friend of my daughter's which is actually going to be something that's kind of new for us. We've never actually fostered a kitty. I've had cats my entire life. And I have two cats right now. But I've never fostered a cat that we only get to keep for a little while. So I'm excited. But also, you know, a little nervous because I think I might be sad to see it go when it has to go back to its owner. But I am very excited to have another kitty in the house. You know, you guys know that I I'm such a cat person. I really love the cats. So I feel like I've got a lot going on. It's all seems like great things. And of course I'm sure there will be some mixed emotions in there too. And that's totally fine. But how are you all doing? What is going on for you? What are the things outside of divorce or maybe even with divorce that you are excited about or that you are struggling with? I would love to hear from you feel free to drop me a DM on Instagram at Karin Nelson coaching and just tell me I'd love to get to know you a little better. And you know, connect. So feel free to DM me, I love the DMS. Alright, so let's move into today's topic, which is understanding triggers. I have done a previous episode on triggers. And it was a very long time ago. And I think it's a good episode, I really wanted to give an updated episode on this topic. Because triggers are something that affects so many of us, especially as we are going through a divorce triggers don't affect just people who have been through trauma or people who have been through really hard things. I mean, we all have the opportunity to be triggered by something in our life, right. And I'm really going to kind of dive more into that and explain more about triggers and where they come from, and why we have them and what different types there are. But I think especially as we go through a divorce, or as we are working to heal from our marriage, or our divorce triggers can be kind of a big deal and a big part of our lives. And so I really wanted to revisit the topic of triggers to give a deeper understanding of what they can look like and what types there are. And I really just wanted to kind of offer you some directions about having a better understanding of triggers, that might be showing up and then what you can do to deal with those triggers when they show up. And not just the mindset part because the mindset part is important. But also there are other things that we can be doing to take care of ourselves and really love ourselves through those times those moments when we feel triggered. So first off, I want to define a trigger. And a trigger is a psychological stimulus that prompts in voluntary recall of a previous traumatic experience. So this stimulus or this reminder, if you will, of something that happened in the past, it doesn't necessarily have to be frightening or traumatic, like the stimulus that happens, right? It may indirectly or superficially be reminiscent to your body of an earlier traumatic experience. So let me give an example. Let's say your partner can't sleep one night, and he gets out of bed and he goes downstairs and he sleeps on the couch. And you may have an amazing relationship with this partner, right? This is something that doesn't happen very often it's totally out of the blue. But you might wake up and feel triggered by not seeing him in bed sleeping next to you. Now, not seeing your partner in bed. That in and of itself is not necessarily a traumatic or frightening experience in that moment. But it may be bringing back a reminder


Have something that had happened in the past, let's say that when you were married to your ex, he would get angry at you often at night, as you were getting ready for bed, and then he, you know, would maybe yell and get in an argument and then choose not to sleep in the same room together, that experience might have triggered some kind of response in your body. And although these two experiences are not the same thing, the way your nervous system is reacting, or is responding is the same, it is like a remembered response. But the problem with triggers is, they can occur unexpectedly, just like that example that I gave, like, you didn't know that your partner was gonna get up in the middle of the night and go downstairs to sleep because he couldn't sleep and he didn't want to wake you up. And triggers can also sometimes occur Expectedly, like, maybe it's your anniversary next week or something, and you know that that is kind of a heavy day for you. So triggers are kind of messy in that way, because they can happen at any time without any expectation. And there can be certain moments or certain times or be in a certain situation where you know, that you are probably going to feel triggered in some way. And there are three types of triggers that we should be paying attention to. The first type of trigger is external triggers. And this means that the trigger is associated with something outside of us like the external environment. So this could be like a person a place or thing that is associated with a memory, kind of like the example that I just gave. Or if you remember back to the movie, Forrest Gump, when Jenny is older, and she is working on healing herself, and she's staying at four US house and she and forced her out on a walk, and she sees the house where she spent part of her childhood. And that house was an environmental trigger for Jenny, because of the abuse and the trauma that she suffered in that home. And if you remember this scene, she, you know, is really having a very emotional response. And she's picking up rocks and throwing them at the house, and she's crying, and just the the external experience of seeing the home, and being in the area of the home really triggered that reaction that showed up inside of her. But it could be other things like an image on a billboard, or being around someone who may be associated with a specific trigger. So these are just things to pay attention to, with things that are happening outside of you in your environment. If you get triggered, it's kind of good awareness for you of like, what might that be about? Why am I feeling this way? What could it have been? That triggered me in this way. And the second type of triggers are internal triggers. And these are triggers that are associated with something happening inside of us inside of our mind inside of our body or a specific feeling. This could be like fear or insecurity or uncertainty. It could be a feeling of panic or feeling out of control in some way. Like, have you ever had the experience where you think you're going to have a panic attack and you're like, don't have a panic attack, you're trying to like talk yourself out of having a panic attack. But in your head, all you can think about is panic attack, panic attack, panic attack, right? This this exact thing actually happened to me years and years and years ago, when my husband at the time and I We'd only been married maybe a year or two. We were at a party together. And he was basically the only person at this party that I knew. I was very young. I got married when I was 19. I was very insecure. We were around a lot of older, like more established in my eyes type of people. And I was really kind of nervous about going to this party. And with talking to people I was kind of nervous about what do I talk about? And how do I have conversation, you know, I was young, and having conversations with other people was kind of a scary thing for me. I remember at one point, my husband had kind of disappeared, or he had gone into another room. I didn't know where he went. And I just found myself in this room surrounded by people that I didn't know. And I began to panic. And in my head, I was like, don't panic, don't panic, don't panic, which literally just caused me to panic more and more. And I would just remember ending up in the bathroom, working really hard to calm myself down from this triggered panic attack that was associated with my initial feeling of anxiety and then panic and then it was a further intensified and exacerbated by me telling myself don't panic and trying to hold in that panic and that anxiety. And then the last type of trigger is sensory triggers. And these are triggers that are associated with the five senses. So sight, taste, touch, smell sound. This could be maybe when a certain song is playing in a store in the background, or you smell something


thing that triggers you, I think this can be kind of a common one for women who have been in abusive relationships, I have heard, often women will hear a specific tone of voice. And even if the voice isn't coming from someone that they know, or the person who was, you know, usually would talk to them in that tone, they'll hear the tone, and it may trigger that nervous system response inside of them. And so just knowing about these three types of triggers, is a good way for you to start becoming aware of what might actually be happening on the outside or inside of you to create the nervous system response that you're having. And you might notice that with some of these triggers, there's going to be some overlap, right? Maybe there's like an overlap of sensory and environmental, or an overlap of internal and sensory, you know, that is totally normal and fine. But I think sometimes just recognizing and working through that trigger, can be enough to help you release it to help you work through it and release it. When we experience a trigger. What happens when we don't have an understanding about our triggers is we have the stimulus, right, the thing that causes us to feel triggered, and then we immediately have the nervous system response to that stimulus. And so without understanding why it's happening, where it's happening, what caused it, there's no space in between the stimulus, and how we react or the stimulus and the response. And that can make us feel very powerless over ourselves and our lives. Because we, I mean, if, if we're getting triggered constantly, all the time, which can sometimes happen when you're going through a divorce, we can feel very powerless, because we're like, I don't, I can't even live my life, I can't leave my house, I can't listen to music, I can't turn the TV on, I can't have a conversation with someone without feeling triggered, right. And so I think this can be really helpful and useful. Because what we're going to try and do by understanding that trigger is create space between the stimulus and the response, the more we can understand our triggers, the more we can add space between those two between the stimulus between the response, which is going to put us back in control, and allow us the opportunity to self regulate, as needed. And that's the important thing in between the stimulus and the response and between the trigger and our reaction is that ability and that opportunity to have space in there to create self regulation. And so in my last Podcast, episode number 108, I talk about grounding work. And I teach a lot of different grounding techniques that you can try on that are going to help you self regulate. And so if you haven't listened to that episode, go back and listen to it and try some of those techniques that I teach in that episode, I don't really want to go into it in detail in this one, because I'm going to actually give you a different technique that you can use. But the grounding techniques are going to be huge when it comes to working through and releasing that trigger. Because there are other ways to help regulate yourself as you notice a trigger. And as you learn to create that space between the stimulus and how you respond, do REIT, right and tall is a couple's life coach, and she has come up with four steps to safety and CO regulation. And these four steps can be very useful when you feel triggered. And so I want to share with you just briefly what those four steps are. Because I think that they can be very powerful. When it comes to being able to work through the triggers that are showing up in your life. The first step is to identify and clearly be aware of the trigger. And this could look something like stating, I can see that I'm triggered, or even just validating yourself in the moment, I see that I'm feeling scared. And I see that I'm triggered. And this reminds me of that one time. And then you kind of describe what that time was. And then you just validate like, it makes sense that I would feel triggered in this way because of that experience. Because of that moment when I felt that way. Validation of yourself and what you're going through is huge, and it's totally fine for it to come from you. The second step is to come back to the here and now I talk about this so much on this podcast, I talk about this with my clients, I teach all of my clients this, the here and now basically meaning being present with where you are right now. That is always a good place to remind yourself that you are safe in this moment. I mean, as long as that's actually true if you're in a in a space where you are not safe like physically or even emotionally, someone's yelling at you or throwing things at you like obviously you can't just tell yourself you're safe if you're not actually safe. But if you are in a space in the present moment where you


are safe. And you can remind yourself that and bring yourself back to the present. There is so much healing that is going to happen here in understanding how to create safety for yourself. And when I talk about safety, I am used most of the time I'm not even actually talking about physical safety. It's mostly, what does safety feel like inside my body? What does safety feel like? For me? What do I know what it feels like when I feel safe? Inside? What does that feel like? Where do I feel it in my body? Where does that peaceful, calm feeling? Show up? And can I describe it? That's what I mean by safety. What is your nervous system doing in that moment? Right. These are things that we don't usually pay attention to. And I want you to start paying attention to them. So that you can create that safety for yourself in moments where you can reregulate and feel calm and feel relaxed and feel present. And then the third step is to create safety and stability in the moment. And this is where you get to use some of those grounding techniques that I talked about in the other podcast episode that I mentioned. You can also really show up with self compassion and self love. You can ask yourself things like, what does my body need? Right now and really listen and allow your body to speak for you allow your body to tell you what do I need right now? Or what feels like love for me? In this moment? I have asked myself those questions a lot over the last probably four or five months of this year, as I've been learning so much more about trauma and triggers and my nervous system and how it shows up in response to healing and in response to perceived threats. And I get different answers every time. Sometimes I've gotten the answer of I need to cry. Other times I've gotten the answer of I need to go snuggle on the couch in a blanket, I've had the answer of I need to go take a nap I've had the answer of I need to not work right now. I need to really just allow myself to rest. I've had so many different answers and your body knows, it's just so many of us are out of sync with what our body and our brains need. And we don't know how to listen. And so slowing things down and allowing our body to kind of answer for us and tell us what is it that I need in this moment? How can I show love for myself in this moment? And what does that look like? And then trying it out? And seeing? Does this feel safe to me? Does this feel good to me? And then the fourth step is engagement. This means we're going to start recognizing the somatic signs that is this trigger being diffused? Okay, yes, I'm starting to feel relaxed, like what is happening in your body? In this moment? On a scale of one to 10? Where are you? Where are you when you were first triggered? Before you started these four steps? And where are you now what has changed? How does your body feel different? What feels different? Where does it feel different? I really liked that scale. Because even just putting a number on it, even if it only goes down half, like if you started out as a seven and he went down to a 6.5. But really being able to step in and gauge creates an understanding for you when it comes to your triggers. And when it comes to figuring out your own self regulatory response to those triggers. Once you can start to understand how triggers are affecting your own regulation. That's when you're going to step into a more powerful role in your life of allowing yourself to reregulate when the unexpected and the expected triggers do show up for you. All right, my friends. That's all I have to talk about on triggers today. Thank you so much for listening. I will be back next time.

Have a great week and I will talk to you next time. If you like what you're learning on the podcast and you're ready to create lasting change in results in your life. Then you need to be working one on one with Karin as your divorce coach. This is where we take everything you're learning in the podcast and 10 x it with implementation and weekly coaching where you start to see change in yourself and your life immediately. To find out more about how to work exclusively with Karin go to www dot Karin Nelson That's www dot k a r i n n e l s o n


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