The People Who Trigger Us Most

Getting emotionally healthy so you can protect yourself from them.

It’s a brand new year. The time to get it right, improve our relationships, heal our wounds, get in great shape physically and emotionally, and to finally get a handle on our spending. Yep, at the start of the year is the promise of all things new . . . and lovely . . . and fresh! The trouble is often we still have yet to deal with the leftovers from last year.

I mean, let’s be honest: How did your holiday season go? How was that ‘yearly’ family dinner? You know, the one where you got together for that beautiful ‘breaking of bread’ with loved ones? Did you enjoy it? Did you even have it?

Maybe your family, like mine, brings up so much pain and suffering that you can’t force yourself to stomach another round of fake falsities and passive-aggressive digs and comments. Leaving you wondering why you can’t just ‘put the past behind you’ and move on!

Here’s the thing: I know we all want perfect, harmonious relationships. Yet the people who trigger us most are actually gifts; gifts that teach us about where we are still wounded. They can trigger us easily because we have wounds—neuro-associations—from a past pain, something we haven’t healed and something we never want to feel again. But if we don’t feel it, we can’t heal it.

People who trigger us remind us of when we felt ‘shamed’—we feel that pain again in the present and all the old wounds feel like fresh cuts. This is how it works: over the course of our lives, we have trajectory-changing moments that cause us to feel guilt and shame. We defragment from our Self and take that piece of ourselves and bury it in our proverbial basement. We bury our Princess. We bury our Drama Queen. We bury our Ruler. We bury our Warrior. We just keep burying parts of our identity so that we don’t have to feel badly about ourselves ever again.

I never want to feel ‘that’ again so I will disown that part of me.

Eventually, we have all these ‘compartmentalized’ aspects of our lives and of ourselves. We are no longer whole. Complete. Expansive. We are little tiny fragments. Frozen. Shards of glass. Shards of light. We are wounded, looking out at the world trying to figure out who or what will make us feel whole and safe and loved again. But we can never find it out there in someone else. We must go within. Self-healing is an inside job.

Isn’t it time to love yourself so that you can love the people in your life? Isn’t it time to get healthy—emotionally? Once you do, the rest of your life will take care of itself!

Here are the facts: the ‘trigger’ person may be a jerk, but you won’t be as triggered by him or her once you do your own work. I’m not suggesting that you should spend time with people who trigger you. What I am suggesting is that before you toss your family members or spouse or friends aside, look at yourself and how you are showing up in that relationship.

  • Are you really bringing your ‘best you’ to the table?
  • Are you really speaking with assertive, accepting, even loving communication?
  • Are you really speaking your truth, without passive-aggressive digs and put-downs?
  • Are you trying to bring out the ‘best’ in the people around you? Could you be projecting your wounds onto them and not even realize it?
  • Are you teaching people to treat you in a healthy loving respectful way?
  • Are you willing to change how you are showing up in the world because if you are, the world will change how it shows up to you! Guaranteed.

How’s that for a new year and you?



Photo Credit: Alliance/Shutterstock

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