Discussing this face to face works far better, as it allows you to explore deeper, but as some guys are still unsure or even afriad to talk about these issues (this is quite common amongst survivors) it was considered that it should be part of the website, so I hope it makes sense.What can trigger you off? Anything can; A sound, a smell, taste, hearing music, even seeing someone who looks like the person who abused you, all of which can cause what is known as a trigger and can cause you to freak out, feel afraid, react badly to things, or even feel suicidal at times.
Triggers can occur any time, any place and can invoke aspects of the sexual abuse you survived, and can even make you feel as if it has happened all over again, so here are some simple ideas on how to deal with them, but as always, it will take some work to alter your current frame of mind, and how you deal with the past, but if put into practise, it becomes a normal way of thinking and reacting to the triggers.
Try it, it does work, but as said, it take some time to change current thought practises so take some time to do it, and if you 'fail' at the beginning, keep trying until you win!
OK, how to get started.....
Start off by putting the triggers back where they belong, which is in the past, and in doing so, place those thoughts back where they belong, which is in the past.
This is not what you will find elsewhere on the Net and is not a typical way of dealing with triggers, so please don't expect to read things about taking care of yourself. (Make sure you do!)
As you go about your normal day time routine, and if anything kicks in that scares you or makes you feel unsafe, pay attention to who or what has triggered you to feel the way you do.
As said above, it could be a sight, a sound, or a person who resembles those who hurt you, but in reality, it is just a thought process that kicks in and makes you feel unsafe and potentially at risk of being harmed. You are safe, yet your past tells you to be scared of a potential threat or danger.
This is increased even more if the abuse was a violent attack, which initially left you feeling scared for your life, and that can linger well in the future, as a pre-warning sign of possible danger.
Make a list of all the things that do trigger you, and if you state that everything triggers me, list everything! By that I mean sit down, with pen and paper, and start writing it all down, as it really helps to see it all written down.
DON'T begin this by putting a barrier of if's and buts' in the way, or you will never do the work that needs doing.
So, having read this far, how do you start to recognise the triggers and deal with them?
You can do three things, which are;
1. Run for your life
2. Avoid and deny it.
3. Deal with it.
What I would like you to do is to recognise what exactly are your trigger feelings. Name them, and then write them down on paper, and keep the list safe
While doing so, remember that however unpleasant they may be, they do not have to lead to previous negative behaviours.
Whilst you're doing this, you may feel triggered, but please carry in and in doing so, recognise the difference between feelings, thoughts, and behaviours whilst you write them down.
By naming the triggers, you take away the scary feelings associated with them, and in reality, they are words on a sheet of paper
So, make a list of between five to ten trigger feelings, but as just said above, avoid feelings that have underlying feelings attached to them.
e.g. if 'angry' or 'depressed' are words used for triggers, think of the underlying feelings that might lead to 'anger' or 'depression', such as hurt, rejection, embarrassment or manipulation.
Now write down the thoughts you often have when experiencing these feelings.
Stay focused on this, so if you begin thinking of a recent situation that led to particular feelings, keep the thoughts that come as general statements.
e.g. If your boss shouts at you, and you start to think "I never get things right" that is a generalisation. Better to go with "he's picking me on because his wife shouted at him last night".
With each trigger feeling and thought that comes along, you need to write down the negative behaviours that follow on.
As a suggestion, your list may look something like:
Feeling - Rejection. Thought - 'No one cares about me, I can't trust anyone'. Behaviour - Isolation, self-harming, drinking to excess, etc.
The more triggers you identify, the easier it becomes to see a pattern emerge, so pay attention to your thoughts, they are the ones that let you down primarily.
Broad reaching statements such as "nobody, everyone, never, always, always everything, etc, are all part of 'all of nothing thinking', which doesn't allow you to have a safer middle ground to base yourself on.
When caught in this negative cycle, thoughts can trigger negative emotions, and often that triggers negative feelings.
Once you have done the above, put the paperwork away, and carry on as normal, saying to yourself that yes, you recognise that event as a trigger, but it belongs to the past.
So try to be aware of any thought process, that comes from the past, that stops you living your life, and begin to learn how to place that thought back where it belongs, and then carry on living today's life.
All the above sounds simple to say, and I have heard some people say its not that easy to handle triggers, but it is, and you have the power to do so, so change the way you think about the triggers and see if that works for you.
Keep trying to alter how the triggers make you feel and in doing so, your thought process will chance and you will feel far better for doing so, and will also take back the power, taken from you when abused but which is yours to have.
COPING SKILLS TO DEAL WITH TRIGGERS
Check at the bottom of the page for answers to the codes
1. Think about all of what you have gained since you started talking and recovering (B.)
2. Telephone someone! Make sure you have at least two or more numbers. Check your support network. (P.A.)
3. Avoid socialising with people that could bring your mood down. Avoid them at all costs! (A.)
4. Remember the mess that not addressing issues have left you in the past (C.)
5. Remember the promises made to yourself to keep working on these issues (H. & M.E.)
6. Stop and think about the consequences of screwing up. (C.)
7. Go for a walk, preferably with someone safe (P.A.)
8. Make something to eat, sit down and then think again. (S.)
9. Pray for some help (P.A.)
10. Listen to your favourite upbeat music, have a dance, no one can see you! (S. & DIS.)
11. Jog around the block a few times. (P.A.)
12. Go to bed and get some sleep (A. OR DIS.)
13. Tidy the house up (DIS.)
14. Stay indoors, watch mindless TV or a DVD, but NO porn! (A.)
15. SAY NO to yourself and others and mean it! (P.A.)
16. Think about your plans, which could end up being ruined. (M.E.)
17. Go to the cinema; take a safe friend with you. (S./DIS)
18. Visit a friend, ask for support and tell them how you feel. (PA./DIS OR S.)
19. Wash the car/windows/mow the lawn/empty the bins. ( DIS.)
20. Surrender to whoever or whatever is your higher power (P.A.)
21. Buy yourself something you would like. (S.)
22. Write down exactly how you feel at the moment. (P.A.)
23. Do a relaxation exercise and relax! (P.A.)
24. Tell yourself that you ARE an intelligent person and can behave intelligently. (H./M.E.)
25. Avoid places and people that put you at risk with temptation. (A.)
26. Have a cup of tea/coffee./hot chocolate. Sit down to drink it too. (S.)
27. Tell someone how you are feeling right now! (P.A.)
28. Read a good book and lose yourself in the reading of it (S./DIS.)
29. Think about someone worse off than you, anyone, and be grateful for what you have. (M.E.)
30. Remember the guilt and remorse that you felt the last time you did something to excess (M.E.)
31. Make love, and if you are alone, DIY! (S.)
32. Go to the toilet, close the door, sit down and think about what to do. (P.A.)
33. Get in a bath, sit back, relax and think positive thoughts. (DIS.)
34. Count to 100, then count backwards from 100 to zero. (P.A.)
35. Scream as loud as you can, then louder still, three times. (P.A.)
36. Allow yourself a good cry. It does not make you weak or less of a man to cry. (P.A.)
37. Recite the alphabet backwards. Start learning how to do so now. (DIS.)
38. Walk up and downstairs no less than ten times, then sit down and think again. (P.A.)
Explanation of the Codes
B. Think about the benefits you will gain.
P.A. Take positive action now.
C. Think of the costs involved to you and others if you screw up.
DIS. Use a distraction to take your thoughts away from doing something wrong.
M.E. Mobilise your emotions to help create motivation.
H. Appeal to your higher honour to stay safe and do something about it now.
A. Use an avoidance technique, (start learning them now)
S. Use a substitute to whatever used to work for you and make sure you use it.
N.B. Choose a few of the above that will work for you. Choose wisely.
All rights to this post copyright Steve Bevan, AMSOSA UK