Why you get Triggered

Aug 27, 2022

You might notice yourself being triggered by experiences you encounter or by things people do. You will know this effects you because you will find yourself feeling angry, fearful, frustrated, irritable or anxious. If you pay attention long enough, you might even begin to notice a pattern amongst what it is that causes you to feel this way. These are not random occurrences. What triggers you is going to be different from what triggers your neighbor, friend or another family member. Personal triggers are a result of unresolved emotion.


When you experience a situation as an adult that emotionally reminds you how you felt sometime in the past, and that past emotion remained unresolved, this will trigger you to feel and respond in much the same way you did at that earlier time. Various defense mechanisms will surface as a result to protect you. You might project your feelings onto others, misinterpret communication, become defensive in behavior, become passive aggressive, or even chronically avoid environments or situations that you might otherwise wish you felt more comfortable in. Emotions in need of resolution bring you into a fight or flight state.

Perceptions Matter

For example, if another child made a comment to little Jim in the school cafeteria that embarrassed Jim, this emotion was likely held onto and carried in the subconscious. The subconscious mind holds onto all of the memories you experience in your lifetime, while the conscious mind only filters what you most need to know in this current moment. However, the subconscious is like a cup. Once that cup is full of liquid, it will find a way to seep out. When your internal bucket of unresolved emotion is full, emotions will pour out into other areas of your life through behavior. If as an adult, Jim has to present in front of others for work and finds himself feeling flushed and nervous, to the point of physically feeling sick or finding ways to avoid presenting, it is likely that his current adult feelings relate to past experience(s) that remain emotionally unresolved. In a hypnosis session, the memory of the cafeteria may arise and Jim suddenly remembers how embarrassed he felt at the time, and how embarrassing it is to feel himself being watched now while giving presentations. His past self, as a child, needed something in that moment that was not achieved and so the emotion became stored and held onto.   It is very important to know that how you as an adult assess a past situation from your current conscious mind state has little to no bearing on the effect it has on you. Adult Jim may feel in his conscious mind that the cafeteria incident was “no big deal”. However, to little Jim as a child, his perception at the time was that of embarrassment and it mattered. The situation itself is less important than the perception of the situation at the time of its occurrence.


Other examples I have seen are:

  • Death of a loved one early on resulting in feelings of abandonment and resulting in avoidance of intimate relationships
  • Feeling of loss of control earlier in life resulting in a fear of flying in airplanes
  • Feelings of unworthiness earlier in life resulting in a fear of public speaking
  • Past hurts resulting in a distrust and avoidance of establishing friendships and meaningful relationships
  • Irritability and impatience with self or others caused by the need for an inner critic earlier in life
  • Lack of self confidence resulting in avoidance of desired goals 


I have seen this over and over again in my practice. When I talk to clients about how emotions work, I often hear how it makes sense to them, but that they cannot remember anything that would relate to what they currently experience. However, it is not about the specific situation experienced. When looking at various life experiences, we might not find the commonality between them that would drive human behavior but that is because what drives it cannot be seen by the eye.  It is all about the underlying emotional connection those experiences hold. How you feel now subconsciously reminds you of how you felt at a time earlier in your life and sometimes, multiple times that must all be processed.

You Can Thrive!

Once experienced in a hypnotherapy session, clients are frequently shocked at the realization of how much impact a prior event had on them. They very often are also surprised at how once that event is processed and the underlying emotion resolved, the fear or other strong emotional reactions to current events and undesired behaviors (reacting or avoiding) disappears.  This is where true freedom lies. Events that would have once triggered a strong emotional reaction and resulting behavior now become neutral and individuals find themselves moving from a place of existing to one of thriving. You can thrive too.

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