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Triggers & Primal Brain Function

What does it mean to be ‘triggered’?

Well as the queen @jheneaiko writes, “Triggered, I am not okay, uh. You need to stay out of my way, uh” be in a triggered state, is to be not okay. When a person is triggered there is an alarm that goes off in the brain that alerts the flight or fight system to engage. It is what helps protect us when we are in danger. But not so helpful if we’re out here just trying to live our life. Our hearts start racing, pupils narrow and blood rushes from our vital organs to our lungs and extremities.

Here’s some key info on triggers that are helpful to know when supporting someone healing/recovering from trauma:

🚨 Triggers can be ANYTHING that the amygdala (oldest/least evolved part of our brains) has identified as a warning sign for danger. Sights, sounds, smells.

🚨 Each person’s triggers are unique to their own experience.

🚨 One trigger might be more harmful or elicit a more significant response than others.

🚨 One cannot choose what will trigger them in any given moment.

🚨 Triggers can only be eliminated through extensive and intense cognitive reprocessing via therapy. The only way we heal is learning how to keep ourselves regulated when we are triggered.

⚠️ So what do we do when we get triggered or trigger someone else? ⚠️

* PAUSE - stop everything. Breathe. Breathe again. Try a breathing method like the 4-7-8 breath. Breathe is the nervous system super highway for connecting brain back to body.

* GROUND - sometimes a walk, taking your shoes off and putting your feet in some grass or running your hands over warm water can ground you and pull your brain back online. When we’re in a triggered state our brains shutdown.

* BE GENTLE - triggers are just the spark, what comes after is an inferno and will require the above mentioned methods to calm and regulate and it may also take longer than you expect to get back to a safe place in your mind. That’s okay, be gentle. Healing isn’t linear. It takes time.

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