Taming Triggers Solution Step 7: Tools for Unavoidable Triggers
(This post is part 8 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 seven posts, I highly recommend you begin here with Step 1 and complete the first six steps before proceeding to Step 7.)
Step 7 of the 7-step Taming Triggers Solution process — Tools for Unavoidable Triggers — addresses the reality that some triggers are simply unavoidable, and offers tools and strategies on how to manage those unavoidable triggers.
One of the best things you can do to head off triggers at the pass is to practice the very best self-care you possibly can.
Physical self-care means getting adequate rest, exercise, nutrition, and any needed medical care.
Emotional self-care includes paying attention to your emotions (anger, fear, joy, pain, shame, guilt, passion & love) and taking care of them as they come up — avoiding the extremes of indulging in them or minimizing/denying them.
Spiritual self-care can include a variety of activities including prayer, meditation, attending religious services, journaling, or simply spending time in nature.
Alert | Avert | Affirm
Another tool for unavoidable triggers is an adaptation of the Sex Addicts Anonymous Three-Second Rule — Alert, Avert, & Affirm.
The first step — Alert — is to be aware that you’re triggered, and to pay attention to what’s happening for you in the present moment — your thoughts, emotions, and any physical sensations.
Avert involves redirecting your attention and thoughts onto something other than the trigger. A simple way to avert is to bring your attention to everything else (other than the trigger) you’re noticing with your senses — sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. Avert can also mean using a go-to prayer, mantra, or visualization that brings immediate comfort or just distracts you in the moment.
Affirm means to affirm yourself. You can say, “Even though I’m triggered right now, I’m okay and so are my feelings.” or “I’m doing great.” Find whatever works for you. The main point is to focus your attention on something positive and affirming for you.
Take a Relational Time-Out
This is a must-have tool for unavoidable triggers that happen as you’re interacting with your partner or any other person. Download How to Take a Relational Time-Out in 6 Steps here.
Share Your Truth/Reality
Simply sharing your truth with another person after you encounter a trigger can bring relief. Most people struggle to reach out to connect with others, but it’s one of the best ways to get validation and perspective.
Regular engagement in a community of support with others who are going through similar experiences as you can be a great way to build resilience and get more ideas for managing unavoidable triggers.
Happify (www.happify.com) is an interactive app that “train(s) people to disrupt patterns of negative thinking, manage stress, and build skills to overcome life challenges.” Give it a try!
More tools and strategies for unavoidable triggers:
- Creating Safe Sanctuary (an actual physical space, visualization, or intentional time/space you set aside that helps you feel safe and calm)
Identify at least 3-4 potential strategies for unavoidable triggers from this list. Experiment and find what works best for you.
Make a list of any of the tools and strategies listed above that resonate with you.
Write them down on a piece of paper you can keep in your wallet or purse, or record them on a digital device, so that you can refer to your list when those unavoidable triggers strike.
© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2016)
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