Triggered. The word makes me think of internet trolls and emotionally volatile “Karens.” (Sorry if your name is Karen.) I think of public outburts and dramatic fits of rage. We can easily lose the point of the word in the absurdity of the behaviors of Karens. The point of the word “trigger” is in the definition.
Dictionary.com reminds us that: “triggers are anything that remind someone of previous trauma. To be triggered is to have an intense emotional or physical reaction…” Everything was a trigger to me, because I was in crisis mode 24/7 – and I didn’t even know it. I thought everyone felt the same way. So I would lash out my internal negative energy by throwing negative behaviors and words at the outside world.
We have so many people running around treating each other like crap, screaming profanities at others. Me, I am guilty of using my card game app to verbally abuse others when I’m in a bad mood. We’re all overworked, we’re all overtired, we’ve all had a crappy boss. We all have days where we just lose it and our limits are just so gone. But I’m talking about my own behavior and how do I feel when I’m triggered? How do I react when I encounter a trigger? Karens are not able to stop and ask these questions. Karens were already in a volitile state before whatever encounter went down. I was a Karen for decades before I could even ask myself these points. Up until the past few months, I just Karened, Karened, Karened.
I would argue everywhere I went, I was always in crisis mode, always complaining to my friends, my family feared my emotional outbursts, I verbally abused others – because I always felt like a cornered animal. This overwhelming heaviness like a concrete blanket 24/7 wrapped around me. Isolation. Avoidance. I lived my whole life in one big panic attack, assuming that was the norm and that everyone felt the same as me. I honestly thought feeling like life was gasping for air while chained to a cinderblock at the bottom of water “- that’s just how life is.” If you feel like you can’t breathe today, it’s okay to not be okay. Pause. Release. Cry. Let go.
I was so busy trying to survive that anything and everything triggered me. My emotional pain was so great that it drowned out any love trying to get it. My angry, hurt heart was bleeding all over strangers at stores, people at church and work, and my family. Pretending to be okay was exhausting, it was impossible NOT to get triggered with the heaviness and loud voice telling me I was worthless.
We deserve better. Normally, I cringe at the word “deserve,” it rings of entitlement. But we are not entitled – we are healing, we are hurting. We can change and grow and stop Karening….most of the time.
Slowly, inner work began to get done. I began to fight my way through anxiety and depression with the help of friends, doctors, therapy, medication, and a whole tool box full of life skills became mine! Enough strength became mine, where I was able to recognize when I’ve been triggered, and able to stop and use my life tools instead of karening….most of the time.
As a Karen, for me to change I need to be grounded in the present moment, today, instead of still mentally in the pain and experiences of my past. If I’m still fighting inside myself, I can’t help but fight others outside of myself as well. So bring on this healing journey, I’m a recovering Karen!
Am I triggered? A great way to check-in with how you are in the present moment, is to notice your body.
- Is your stomach in knots?
- Does your chest feel tight or hot?
- Do you feel a sudden need to hide or to lash out?
- Can you ask yourself: “What feeling is this?”
- Can you ask yourself: “What experience did I just have that created this feeling?”
- Can you ask yourself: “How do I want this to play out?” Let it go, evaluate it further/ask for more information, or ignore it and fester?
- Was the trigger really just an internal thing that blipped, or do we have a boundary that got crossed? Do we have an unmet need?
Thinking in despair of my own unmet needs in a frenzy frustration can be replaced with “I am going to do THIS for me NOW.” Once we begin to love ourselves in the present, we start to see that we are worth more than we know, Karens and non-Karen alikes.
Karens feel so worthless that we always “have to” defend ourselves, even when there is no fight. So, as a Karen, I would start a fight. Inside I was panicking – if there’s no obvious problem, I would create one. That took a lot of energy. Anxiety, depressed, exhaustion and wine are the perfect recipe for a Karen.
If you’re reevaluating some of your own behaviors and triggers, grab on to whatever life tools you want! There’s no limit to how many different coping skills you can have, and they are all FREE! The only cost is a willingness to let go of your pain. If you’re not ready, that’s okay too. Just know that for today you are seen.
Here are some of my new life tools:
- positive self-love affirmations
- YouTube videos
- face tapping
- healing crystals
- responsible medical marijuana use
There are also smash rooms and paint nights and axe throwing, the possibilities are endless. Just keep reaching forward, no matter what your tools are, just keep using them.
18 days ago was my flashback that clicked it all into place. Now I understand that I am not born to be a Karen, but someone hurt me. Instead of seeing myself as a Karen, I can begin to try to see that I am whole. I am pure. I am a beautiful, kind, loving human being – when I’m not a scared Karen feeling backed into a corner. 18 days of no longer suppressing my pain so deeply that my body physically stored the stress inside and hurt itself. The flashback that came in like a wrecking ball, complete with 24 hours of vomiting so bad I thought I was going to die – what came in with that wrecking ball, was the freedom to let go and become a phoenix.
What used to be a panic attack is now a tool for self-awareness.
Triggers will come. I will be triggered. But I don’t have to be a Karen. Triggers will come, and if I am a Karen, I can apologize and try again next time. I’m going to keep messing up, but I’m not going to beat myself up for it and ruminate on it and obsess over my failure. I’m going to launch myself into this world of hope and dreams and peace and light and goodness; and I’m going to write my books, and I’m going to speak my piece. I’m going to share with my lovely audiences and I’m going to continue to teach myself to love.
Not taking out our pain on others when we are triggered is important.
But I believe it’s even more important to be willing to see our triggers as tools toward healing. Triggers tell us where we are not okay and where our minds, souls, and bodies need to be free. It might be too much to suggest we can embrace our triggers, but we can use them for our freedom journey.
Until next time,