Your palms are sweaty.
Your heart is thumping.
Your chest gets tight.
And, because you're triggered, you're tempted to either run or get aggressive. You may feel the urge to immediately make sure everything is alright and everyone around you is taken care of. Or, you may sense your body stiffen up—making it harder to think, move, or speak—paralyzed with the inability to respond.
You have an emotional, allergic reaction to pain that's resurfaced in your heart.
And, whether you realize it or not, the opportunity to heal becomes available.
Before I explain myself, let's talk about what a trigger actually is. According to Spencer and Sammi Robbins, CEO and President of Alive and Free Consulting, "a trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma."
And, with that being said, let's talk about what a trigger isn't:
When your pain resurfaces, your emotions are hijacked, and your memory flashes back to a traumatic moment, it doesn't necessarily feel like unicorns and rainbows. Wouldn't you agree? If anything, you feel robbed, helpless, powerless. You feel like your pain points are being violently poked with a stick.
But, that's just the thing! When you are triggered, your past pain walks right into the present, and your past, wounded self hopes that this is the moment they can be healed.
Because, you want to know another revelation provided by the Robbins'? "A triggered feeling/emotion/reaction is a reminder that you have pain that needs to be felt, heard, validated, and met with love and compassion." In other words, a trigger is an opportunity for your past self to receive what they needed to heal in the moment they were first wounded.
So, yes. Triggers are not fun.
But, just because they don't feel good doesn't mean they're not good.
This might be hard to read—and even further—challenging to do, but triggering moments are not ones that should be dismissed. Instead, they're actually the moments you need to welcome the most.
Hence, the title of today's blog post.
As triggers are often referred to as moments of emotional hijacking, these hijackers should not be turned away at the door. They shouldn't be resented, nor should they be prevented. Instead, they should be greeted with open arms and received well. The reason why they trot up the walkway of your heart in the first place is so that they can invite you to heal. And, that's why you should open up the door to let them in—to heal! Make friends with your triggers. Embrace their approach. Let your heart and mind welcome those moments with a hopeful and celebratory, "Hello, Hijack!"
Because at the same moment you are triggered, you also have the chance to heal, to grieve, and to reconnect with your past self, lavishing that person with love and compassion, because your pain is most present and most reachable in triggering moments. The medicine provided by self-compassion can deal with the pain in its complete exposure because the trigger brought it to the light. The trigger gave you the chance to identify what you're feeling so that you can then recognize that those feelings were felt way back when too. Your year-old wounds can then be touched and soothed as the door of compassion opens wide, allowing love to flow over your pain points like warm syrup. Your unmet needs can be fulfilled. Your buried feelings can expose themselves to water, light, and truth once again. You can hold your past-self—the person you were when you were wounded—look them in the eye, and say:
"I'm not going to leave you.
I'm not going to reject you.
You absolutely and positively matter."
And, for those of you who feel like you're incapable of speaking those life-giving words, for those of you unsure of what to say to your past self, I want to make it known that you are not the only one willing to go back to your past to speak words of healing, compassion, and grace to yourself. You're not the only one swinging the door wide open for the opportunity to heal.
There is Someone who is willing to go back to that place with you.
In fact, this same Someone is already there waiting for you.
This Someone's Name is Jesus, and He is the God of compassion and mercy.
And, when Jesus sees your need for healing, He is moved with that compassion and is therefore ready to deliver. He is humble and gentle at heart, and He wants to heal the version of yourself that was wounded. When you are triggered, He has already predestined your hijack to work out for your good, so that the healing and compassion you needed back then is the healing and compassion you can experience now. He was there the moment you were first wounded, and He didn't leave you as time went on. He was always there. He was always speaking life over you. He was always ready and willing to heal you.
And, if you didn't experience it then, you can certainly experience it now.
He's with you. He's for you. And, most of all, He loves you.
And, He would love nothing more than to remind you of this in the moments you need to hear it most: when you're triggered, vulnerable, and emotionally hijacked.
So, the next time you're frozen, fawning, flighting, or fighting, completely welcome what happens next. Match your present emotions to the emotions you felt in the original painful moment, shower grace upon your past self, and come into agreement with the compassionate, lovely, and excellent word from Your Father:
"I see you (Psalms 139:16). I love you (Romans 8:37-39). And, I'm never going to leave your side (Deuteronomy 31:6)."