Can You See Your Kids Triggering You?

By: Len Stauffenger
In addition to being the piece that fires a gun, the word trigger is also defined as an act that sets in motion some course of events or a device that activates or releases or causes something to happen. When we are parents, there are frequently triggering moments. When we are divorced parents, those triggering moments seem to inflate themselves.

Do you know what triggers you? What makes you see red? What causes you to turn and run or throw up? What causes you to burn with shame?

If you will spend some time discovering what triggers you, you can make enormous progress in your life to become the kind of role model your kids deserve. You can share your new skills with your kids to teach them how to handle things when they become triggered.

You deserve to feel better than you do when you are triggered and here are a few tips to help you return to normal:

Move Away: silently step away from whatever is triggering you so that you can have a moment to recover emotionally before you say something you might later regret. Then, breathe deeply and check in to see how you feel afterwards.

Be Here Now: sometimes our old feelings of danger or fear or lack of safety trigger us. They are from the past. Be Here Now means to consciously recognize that you are in the present moment and you can take yourself into a safer spot, either physically or emotionally.

Breathe: a few deep, conscious breaths will allow you to gain control over a triggering event until you can think more clearly.

Get Help: call a friend and explain that you've been triggered. Often a friend's input is less emotional and can help you get back on track. Your kids deserve to have you on track.

The Trigger but Not the Source: If you are being triggered, and you take the time to reflect backwards in your life, you'll see more times where the same kind of thing triggered you. it's related to the feelings it conjures up. Try asking yourself "What is the earliest memory I have of these exact feelings?Permit your mind to dwell for a moment. It will give you an answer. Ask the question as many more times as you need until there is no more earlier time. The first time you got triggered when that same feeling arose is called the Source of the Trigger.

At the time you were first triggered, you made a decision about it. Now that you are an adult, it might be time to examine that decision and make a new one - one that's more beneficial to you so that you can be the solid emotional anchor in your kid's life that they so deserve.

I'd like to recommend that you spend a week with a notebook beside you as you silently observe what is out there triggering you. Write them down. Use the first three tips above to keep yourself stable. Use the fourth one when you've gotten a bit of distance from the trigger. Use the last one when you've got some quiet time (maybe when the ex has the kids) to ask yourself about your earlier memories. Sometimes, if you can trace the path that the triggering has taken, the triggers disappear. I wish you that, divorced parent readers.
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