How to Stop being “Triggered”

Did that title produce an automatic reaction in your emotions or mind? Did you make an immediate guess or assumption about what this article would be about and whether you wanted to read it ? Are you prepared to agree or disagree with it before you even read it ? If you answered honestly in the affirmative to any of those questions you are like most people !

It’s actually normal to respond to words and pictures based on our past knowledge and experiences. In fact , life would be pretty difficult if we didn’t have memories to help us make quick decisions all day about things to stay safe, happy and productive. But sometimes we depend on outside information, other than our own experiences, to form opinions about ideas and people. If we get most of our information from social media sources, we can easily become biased for and against many things because social media has become a place where people can feel better about themselves by comparison to others. “At least I’m not as bad as that idiot!” “I would never do such a thing!” “I am a good person because I…. and you don’t.” “At least I’m not fat, ugly, poor, eating meat, a Trump voter, a Liberal.” People have been divided up and it is not making this country a better place. I’m not saying everyone does this or that anyone does it all the time. But it is a problem.

The words “triggered” and “trigger” have become trendy and refer to an unhealthy, unpleasant, negative reaction to words or stimuli that we associate with something negative . This may be caused by past trauma , as in Post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, which can greatly affect a person’s life . Or in the more trendy usage, it can refer to things that cause a reaction simply because the person is passionately for or against that thing, or offended by it. This article refers to the second usage.

Let me list some statements and you ask yourself how they make you feel .

I am a vegan .

I am on the Keto diet.

I don’t eat gluten.

I drink diet soda.

I smoke pot.

I drink beer .

I’m on Food Stamps.

I’m on Disability.

I’m Muslim.

I’m Christian .

I’m atheist.

I’m Jewish.

I work for Exxon.

I work for Amazon.

I shop at Walmart .

I work at McDonalds.

I take Prozac.

I take pain meds.

I drink beer.

I’m gay.

I sell MLM product X.

I’m undocumented.

I’m overweight.

I’m a fitness model.

I have six children.

I have no children.

I’m divorced .

I am a runner.

I am a Crossfitter.

I am a feminist.

I am a Stay home mom.

And of course, anything political.

I voted for Trump.

I voted for Obama.

I’m a Libertarian.

I think we should abolish abortion.

Abortion should be legal .

Vaccines are dangerous.

Vaccines should be mandatory.

All of these and so many more can trigger a reaction where you judge the person without even knowing them or their reasons for that choice or how they live and treat others . You may judge their intelligence, their work ethic, their morals, their upbringing, even their worth. Or , you may just eliminate that person as a possible friend or feel defensive or on guard. There is some truth to most stereotypes, but not always.  You don’t want to be that kind of person do you?  Mr. or Ms. Judgypants! Don’t you want people to give you the benefit of the doubt?  So what can we do?

Step one: Recognize your triggers and name them . Become aware of your bias or prejudice for and against various ideas and people .

Step two: Consciously begin to look further at the ideas or people .  Do some real research. Not the Huff Post. You may find that you have some wrong beliefs.

Step three: When you feel triggered, instantly replace the quick judgment with a decision to wait and learn more and see if you could be wrong . This can go both ways as in sometimes we judge a person positively who doesn’t deserve it . Or if you are absolutely sure you are correct about your assessment, then ask yourself does this person’s opinion or belief impact you directly? If not, then ask yourself why do you care ? Ask yourself if arguing or criticizing that person is going to change their opinion or belief. Highly unlikely. Ask yourself if that person has the same right as you to freedom of thought and speech. Yes. Then move along. Do not engage. Do not feed your angry or self-righteous emotion. Then you can congratulate yourself on not contributing to the increasing anxiety, anger, and division in this country.

Freedom of speech and thought is an essential human right. Let’s celebrate that everyone is not the same. Even if you think  they are wrong, you can respect their right to their belief.

8 comments

  1. I admit that I do make snap judgments about people based on a small bit of information. However, I do try to not act on those judgments until l know more about the person. I know I am not always successful, but at least we can all give it a shot!! We need less division in our country and more people (on all sides) coming together. It makes me sad how much hate and anger and division there is. Thank you for a positive blog post about the issue! God Bless!

    • When I wrote this I figured that most of my regular followers were not the ones who needed to read it. 😀 But I am glad you liked it. Thank you! It was just an idea that popped into my head. Sometimes I just like to write “how to” articles. I did read it aloud to someone in my family who I thought might benefit. And it also stands as a reminder to myself because sometimes I get super irritable, as I’ve posted before, and I get triggered easily during that time. I have to take my own advice and just stay off Facebook. :p Have a good day! 🙂

      • It’s always a great reminder for everyone 🙂 We all have preconceived notions and prejudices. We all need to remember to work through them 🙂 Especially during irritable times!!!

  2. Mr. Judgypants. Ha! This is a great post, PK. I have friends or people I love represented by most of your statements. If I could only have positive relationships with people who think the same as I do, I’d be very lonely.

  3. I’d like to cross-stitch your advice and gift it to every human. 🙂 Whatever people’s opinions or political stances may be, choosing mean and judgemental positions is bad for future development and unity.

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