A Therapist Recommends Her 7 Personal Tips for Healing Emotional Triggers
Image Credit: Katie Larson
When I was asked to write this article, I did not know if I should write as a therapist or as a human being who has been highly triggered by past events happening around us.
Then, I said to myself, being a therapist doesn't prevent me from having feelings that need to be validated as well.
As a start, let me tell you that there is nothing harder than being exposed to that dark ugly side of human beings. I understand that I actually do that on a daily basis through hearing the stories of my brave clients yet, it never stops aching my heart!
Maybe this silent ache that I feel is what makes me give my all in each and every counseling session as if I really want to erase that harsh reality.
Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. No one could save or help everyone and surely, I am no perfect therapist to click with all clients and give them what I think they need.
I guess I am writing this article searching for validation for myself and giving the same validation to others.
You're Not Alone
How many times did we feel triggered, used, abused, humiliated, or bullied for being something that others don’t accept! All sorts of discrimination make us feel this way. Such a horrible feeling of undeserved pain and injustice!
The sad part is that many people have to live with this burden on their chest out of fear of judgment or stigma. So, what do we do? How do we cope? We suppress, we hide, we cover, we act. And while doing that, we slowly lose parts of ourselves.
If you're being triggered, I feel you
Lately, many factors have been triggering us, as current events are exposing a very evil part of human beings. Judgmental attitudes are prevailing. As well as, lack of empathy and exaggeration of reactions as well. All of these might make real victims and survivors at extreme risk of relapse or meltdown.
I was personally extremely triggered that I noticed my anxiety levels becoming higher than the usual!
Wow! The professional therapist is triggered? How could you call yourself a therapist?
Well, I prefer to call myself a human being who had her share of struggles in this world and saw the ugliness that this society has always shown to people, especially women!
What Advice Can I Give You If I am Myself Triggered? Will You Trust My Advice?
Well, that is up to you to decide! The thing I can assure you is, that it worked with me! For the first time in my 14 years of being a mental health professional, I've decided to give myself therapy tips and when it made me feel better I decided to share them first as a person, then as a therapist.
So, Here Is What I Did When the Triggers Got Too Much:
1. Free Your Feelings
In similar situations, we realize that we have been hiding too much pain in our hearts and constantly feel guilty about letting it out. Either out of fear or denial. In all cases, this suppression never helps anyone. So, free those feelings, let go. Cry if you want, get angry, or even hug yourself and give yourself some self-compassion. Those feelings are there for a reason, they need to get out, they need to be set free so that you could breathe in easier and exhale deeper.
2. Minimize Triggers
People love to talk, share, exaggerate, judge, etc. and unfortunately no platform is better than social media for this. Deactivating your social accounts or simply staying away for a while is always a good idea. Believe me, the more exposure to judgmental attitudes, the deeper your wounds might get.
3. Be Selective
If you want to feel validated or if you want to express your feelings safely, then be selective of who you're surrounding yourself with. Choose wisely before opening up or sharing your opinion or story. Look for clues in people before allowing them into your safe circle. This is an essential step because based on experience, there is nothing worse than opening up to the wrong person!
Because the last thing you would need is a cynical sense of judgment.
4. Express Yourself
Now, what are we going to do with all these emotions? They have to come out! We have to get rid of that weight off our chest so that we start walking lighter! Going to therapy is one way to express your feelings but it is not the only option especially that it is not possible for everyone.
Therefore, we have to know that people’s ways of expression are as diverse as their faces. Some people like to draw, others write, run, sing, cook, talk to someone, or even themselves. Whatever way you choose to express your feelings is fine as long as you do it and rid yourself of the burden of holding them in.
Easier said than done, I know!
There is no button you can push that would stop that heart from pounding or those hands from trembling, yet, at least we can try.
Stick to a calming routine:
Warm herbal infusions.
Although breathing might seem like a cliché yet it is magical if done correctly as it regulates your heartbeats, therefore, calms you down. Also, scents such as vanilla and lavender soothe people based on so much research in the field of aromatherapy.
Lastly, meditation! The trick is to find the right type for you because there are so many styles, voices, and techniques, try to find one that matches your character, try to do it daily and you'll notice a difference in a matter of days.
6. Take Your Time
Remember, that this is your story; these are your feelings and this is your journey. Therefore, you decide when you are ready to talk, act, or react. Don’t rush anything, follow your own pace, and trust your heart. No one is allowed to take that decision for you because no one is in your shoes.
Now, if you feel re-energized, less heavy, and ready, you can decide that whatever you went through does not define who you are. Be positive that inspiration can sometimes come from the heart of pain. If you feel empowered, supported, and safe enough you could even get better by helping others as well. It is a fact that healing improves through action. Therefore, you could support, advocate, and educate!
To those who are fighting an invisible enemy, know that you are not alone!
To those who are struggling with a storm of painful emotions, rest assured that there are many who could feel your pain!
And to those who are reluctant to speak, don’t blame yourself, it is okay to be afraid or confused. Take your time and when you are ready you will act!
I hope this article helped its readers in any form and even if it was not helpful at least I wish it made you feel validated.
Be safe, Be strong, and most importantly be kind!
Noha El Nahas, MA.
Senior Counselor and Heal Counseling Center’s founder
Adjunct Faculty in the Psychology Department of AUC.