I sometimes hear a lot of talk about triggers.
“I’m triggered by this.” “That is a trigger of mine.” “That’s a trigger and will make me (insert your favorite destructive activity here).”
Really? Hmmm. On the one hand, I empathize with folks whose lives are ruled by triggers. I know what it’s like to live life reacting to what is handed out to me. It’s not a pleasant place to be, and it’s even less unpleasant because when I was there, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was ignorant, going through life being triggered and not knowing there was any other way to be, not knowing there was any other way to do things.
I also know that it is extremely difficult to rid ourselves of those things which just…well….they push our buttons and before we know it, we are reacting willy nilly to something without any hesitation at all!
What’s up with that?!?!?!
I’ve rid myself of many of my triggers, and I’ve removed the language of “that’s a trigger for me” from my vocabulary. Our words have power, and if I say something is a trigger, well, it remains a trigger and I’d really like to avoid being the victim of things like triggers.
So other than removing the language from your vocabulary, what else can you do to remove a trigger?
I’m assuming, of course, that you would really like to have the trigger removed. So that’s really the first step. What would your life be like if you were no longer triggered by….let’s say, crowds. Would it then be possible to go to crowded places? Perhaps there is a concert you would like to attend. What would life be like if you no longer had that limitation? Would it feel empty inside without that trigger to determine where you go and when you go there? Would it feel a bit scary to be able to simply make a decision to go or not to go based on your desire? Do some introspection on it, think about whether you really want to remove the trigger, and what life would be like without it.
In treatment centers they like to talk about triggers a lot to their clients, telling them to stay away from bars and other places where alcohol is consumed. I can understand that when one is still not quite in one’s right mind. When one does not know one’s own truth, one is subjected to the truth of others, and yes, that will allow triggers to continue to operate in your life. But the foremost authority on recovery from alcoholism says that one can even attend “plain ordinary whoopee parties” if one is spiritually fit. (the textbook of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 101)
And that right there is the key. Being spiritually fit will allow you to be anything and accomplish everything that is on your list of things to do, no matter what. Triggers will no longer be in your vocabulary if you are spiritually fit.
So what does it mean to be spiritually fit? First of all, I know that word spiritual can be word loaded with different meanings, so for this discussion I’m going to offer a definition of spiritual: being spiritual means you are at peace. Period. End of story. What allows you to be at peace? What allows you to live a life based on love, rather than fear? That is spiritual.
Here’s a formula, if you will, for ridding yourself of a trigger. Just as an aside, this is also the formula for living a loved based life, rather than a fear based one, because really, it all boils down to that: a fear based life is ruled by things like triggers, and a love based life is ruled by love.
1. First is the aforementioned introspection to decide if you really wish to be rid of the trigger. Because if you don’t, none of the steps will be effective.
2. Finding a god in your life is of utmost importance. God is another one of those loaded words, but really, it doesn’t matter what it is, and it doesn’t matter what you call it. And if you look, you will find clues as to what and where your god is. God is about experience, not rules, not dogma, not the latest fad. Don’t become a spiritual athlete by jumping from one fad to another in search of that magic formula that will make everything ok. That’s an outside fix, and outside fixes are never effective for very long. What needs to happen is inner change, an inner experience. Being spiritual is about experience. The experience of being spiritual will change you, from the inside. It will allow you to perceive things differently, to feel differently about yourself and the world around you. Being spiritual will allow you to behave differently. And it doesn’t really matter how you get spiritual, or find a god of your understanding, just that you find it. If going to church does it for you, then good, do that. But I think there is more to it. At Centers for Spiritual Living all over the world, Sunday services are a very small part of what we do, because we consider ourselves a teaching order rather than a religious one. We teach. At any given Center, Teaching Chapter or Study Group, you will find classes, workshops and seminars galore. And the common theme throughout much of what we teach is this: do spiritual practices, consistently and persistently. Spiritual practices consist of meditation, journaling, reading spiritual literature (there’s that word again! I am not talking the bible here folks, although that could be on the list), introspection. And we teach you how to do those things. We teach you how to do those things because it is in those practices that you will find a god of your understanding, it is in those practices that you will experience the spiritual and it is in those practices that you will be able to know your own truth, not someone else’s. You can find a Center here.
3. Once you have a beginning sense of the spiritual in your life, it’s time for some more introspection. Your sense of who and what you are will change as you incorporate a sense of the spiritual into your life. It’s a process that can happen very quickly or more slowly, but it will happen if you continue to do spiritual practices, consistently and persistently. At this level introspection, take a good hard look at the things you fear in life. Fear is key, because, as the Course in Miracles says, there are only two states of being: fear and love, and you can’t have love if you are in fear, and you can’t have fear if you are in love. I’d like to see you be in love, all the time. So when you look at your fears, and how you react to them, and what makes you feel fear, you will have gone a long way towards being rid of them. Hold your fears up to the light of day and they have a tendency to scurry away, like cockroaches when you turn on the light. You are only as sick as your secrets. Look at what you fear, and how you react to it. If you don’t understand what fear looks like, look at what makes you angry. Anger is a result of fear. So is judgment. So is blame, shame, guilt, hatred. Anytime you are feeling any of those things, you are in fear.
4. Once you’ve taken some time to do the inner work, talk with someone about it. Just as an aside, it might be very difficult to do the inner work on your own as we are not as a rule taught to do that. If that is the case, seek help from the beginning of the process, not at this stage. There are Practitioners all over the world who are specifically trained for this kind of work, and it doesn’t have to be someone local. I work with people on the phone all the time, and I quite frequently will call on the assistance of a Practitioner from another area. You can find a Practitioner here.
5. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to set things right in your life. You might find that after all that inner work, there are some outside things in your life that no longer fit. You may find that after all that inner work there are some people with whom you need to have a heart to heart talk. You may experience a period of deconstruction in your life as a result of a changed you. While this is uncomfortable, it isn’t life threatening, and is necessary in order to live life differently.
6. Continue your spiritual practices, consistently and persistently. No matter what. Just do them. With spiritual practices as your foundation in life, you will only become more and more powerful, and less and less susceptible to triggers.