Taming Triggers Solution Step 5: Tame Triggers Where You Have the Power
(This post is part 6 of an 8-part series on Taming Triggers Solution for partners of sex addicts and survivors of infidelity. If you haven’t already read the first five posts, I highly recommend you begin here with Step 1 and complete the first four steps before proceeding to Step 5.)
Step 5 of the 7-step Taming Triggers Solution process — Tame Triggers Where You Have the Power — is the first step of the TTS process where you begin to take action to reduce or eliminate your triggers.
Examples of triggers you have the power to take direct and immediate action on:
- Engaging in conversations with your partner that feel crazy-making to you
- Driving by a sexually oriented business on your way to work or taking your children to school
- Being exposed to explicit sexual content in TV programs, movies, or other media
For the first trigger above, you can be mindful about when and how you discuss hot-button topics with your partner, or you can take a relational time-out* when conversations begin to feel crazy-making, unproductive, or even abusive.
For the second trigger, you can take another route to work to avoid driving by businesses or other places that are triggering. And for the third one, you can consciously choose the media you pay attention to based on ratings or other information to protect yourself.
Is it okay to avoid people, places, or situations that are triggering?
Absolutely! Partners generally find that in the early stages of discovery and disclosure, they are highly sensitive to a variety of triggers, including some that may not — on the surface — appear to be related to intimate partner betrayal.
For example, many partners report having panic episodes while doing everyday activities like grocery shopping or driving on the freeway. These symptoms are a direct result of the deception inherent in active addiction and intimate partner betrayal.
When you’ve been repeatedly deceived and lied to, you become hyper-vigilant and are frequently on high alert. These are instinctual protective and safety-seeking strategies.
If you’re experiencing these types of intense symptoms, be gentle with yourself and find ways to get your needs met without pushing yourself to go places or do things that are highly triggering and distressing for you.
Avoiding certain activities for a limited period of time is an act of self-care. Of course, if you find that you’re still using avoidance strategies a year or more after discovery, you should seek professional help to get support around how to manage your symptoms.
Now take some time to review the triggers you identified in Step 1. For each trigger, determine if there is an action, or actions, you can take to either reduce or eliminate it. Make a note of what action you plan to take, and a deadline to complete it, if appropriate.
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2016)
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