Encouragement & Hope Family Life Fear of Failure

4 Steps to Overcoming Triggers

When you are triggered, learning how to change negative thoughts into positive thoughts based on the truth is crucial to overcoming the trigger. This week learn four steps to take to move from surviving triggers to overcoming them.

All it takes is one word.  Sometimes not even a word, just a look or a gesture, and I’m there.

Triggered again.

Thoughts, emotions, memories take over my insides, and the peace I had just seconds before is gone. It has been replaced by the roller coaster of the past.

I wish I could say I never get triggered or that my mind is a fortress and that I always believe the truth about myself.  But unfortunately, I am human.  And for me that means I deal with negative thoughts on a daily basis.  I get triggered.

I wish I could say that I handle triggers well and that I am completely resistant to them.  But the truth is, I get triggered, and sometimes I handle them well.  And sometimes I don’t. The more I grow as a person and in my walk with Jesus, the more I long to overcome triggers with grace and truth.

Why grace and truth? Grace allows me to be kind to myself and to step back and figure out the root of the trigger.  Truth allows me to move through the trigger and replace the negative thought with a positive thought based on truth found in God’s Word.

When I am triggered, I have two choices react or respond.  When I react, I always regret it. When I respond, I learn more about myself and have fewer regrets.

So if like me, you deal with triggers, negative thoughts or negative self-talk, let me walk you through the four steps I take when responding to triggers rather than reacting.

Step 1 – Begin asking the W questions…Who? What? When? Where? Why? {and How?}

When you are triggered, the first step is to notice that you just got triggered.  And then immediately check in with yourself and begin to ask, “What just happened?” In the moment you may not have time to dissect the trigger, but make a note and then revisit the event as soon as possible asking yourself the Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How? questions.

Let me give you an example.

This morning I was packing the girls’ lunches when one of the girls looked at what I was packing with disgust.  And said, “That’s not for me, right?” Immediately I was triggered.  My blood pressure rose, and I felt angry.  And honestly, I reacted in that moment and regretted it.  Then I asked myself, “What just happened?” And I knew the answer.  I felt rejected. I didn’t have time to dig much deeper in the moment because we were getting ready for school, but identifying the trigger, REJECTION, allowed me to put things into perspective.

Later, when I had time I asked myself,

  • Why did I feel rejected?
  • What did she do to trigger the feeling of rejection?
  • Who do I really feel rejected by?
  • When are other times I was triggered recently? Was rejection the root of any of these?

Once I begin to figure out what is going on underneath the surface, then I can move to step two.

Step 2 – Identifying the negative belief or negative thought behind the trigger.

Knowing what caused the trigger is super important, but if we stop there, we miss out on a huge opportunity to respond better to the next trigger.  That is where step two comes into play.

In step two we move from finding out facts about the trigger {who, what, when, where, why, how} and we uncover the root: the negative belief or negative thought behind the trigger. This negative belief is what you subconsciously say to yourself the moment you are triggered.

Going back to packing the girls’ lunches, the negative thought was, “Here we go again, rejected again!” When I spend a little more time processing this, I realize that when I feel rejected, I say a lot of negative things to myself.  Things like “No one will ever choose me,” “I am not lovable,” or “Something is wrong with me.”

For me, all of these fit into one overarching negative belief I struggle with: “I am not chosen.”

Yep, if I am completely honest, the root of a lot of my inner turmoil stems from feelings of rejection and not being chosen.

As you spend time unpacking your trigger, I encourage you to try to find the negative belief or thought that is the root of your pain. In doing this, you can move through the pain, and begin to respond and overcome the triggers.

Step 3 – Replacing the negative thoughts with truth.

This is where you can move from surviving your trigger, to overcoming it. As you take a few moments to walk through and dig deeper, you can usually see the truth.  The truth is, I am not always rejected.  People choose me.  I am chosen.  Even though, I struggle with this negative belief when I step back, I know it isn’t truth.

So where do we find truth? In God’s Word.

In John 17:17 Jesus prays to His Father saying, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”

In order to overcome your negative belief, you must replace it with truth…not just any truth, but the truth of God’s Word.

As I was processing my trigger of rejection, I was reading through John 15.   As I was reading these words of Jesus jumped off the page at me, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” {God’s timing is impeccable.}

Jesus is speaking to His disciples in this passage.  As a follower of Jesus, I am His disciple, also.  So these words are also true of me.  I did not choose Jesus, He chose me. Wow!  This is how the Word of God transforms us!

The truth about me is that I am chosen.

And although, as GI Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.” There is still half the battle to be won.  And that second half is convincing your heart to belief this truth. That is the goal of step four.

Step 4 – Meditate on the truth found in God’s Word.

Meditation is an opportunity to let the truth found in God’s Word move from your head to your heart.  It is being still before God, and embracing this truth. For me, meditation includes memorizing the Scripture, and repeating the truth to myself over and over.

Let’s go back again to my trigger of rejection. When I read Jesus’ Words found in John 15:16, I stopped.  First, I wrote them in my journal. Then I closed my eyes and I pictured Jesus holding my face and gently speaking these words to me, “You did not choose me, I chose you, Faith.”  I slowed my breathing, and I held that image in my head.  I let Jesus speak truth to me in that moment.  I didn’t rush through the process.  I let the truth of God’s Word saturate my mind and my heart. I opened my heart to the truth of Jesus.

This is where the transformation happens.

Walking through these four steps takes time and practice, but the result is something amazing. As you do the difficult work of being more attune to your own feelings, beliefs and triggers, you open the door to healing.

Will you be triggered again?  Absolutely, but the next time you will be armed with the truth.

When I am triggered by feelings of rejection, I immediately envision Jesus holding my face and telling me, “I chose you!” This lessens the pain, and helps me respond rather than react.  This is overcoming!

Are you ready to begin overcoming?

This week I have a free worksheet for you that walks you through each of these four steps.  You can request your free copy right now!  Click here: OVERCOMING TRIGGERS

In the comments, I would love to hear what verses you cling to as truth when you are faces with your own triggers.









9 comments on “4 Steps to Overcoming Triggers

  1. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.

    When I am triggered, it can be easy to let my mind take over in “my own understanding”; I repeat this verse to remind myself to Trust and acknowledge the Lord, in my time of need and He will help me through/overcome it.

    Also I Corinthians 13 (I think this is right?)
    Love is patient, Love is kind, understanding, slow to anger, etc…

    I loves this message! I have been working on this and it is helpful to learn steps that will help with triggers. Thank you for this.

  2. speakinginfaith

    Thanks April. These are two verses I use also 😀

    Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Truth! I have fought a lifetime of triggers and can attest to the fact that these work! We might identify, and replace with truth. At first it seems hard and unnatural, but the longer we do it the more natural it is.

    I would also add that if healing has come in your life through Christ, it doesn’t mean triggers will never surface. There are some things in our life that will always have triggers because the mind and body has a powerful memory. The key though is to deal with the triggers immediately and learn the places, things that most cause them and if at all possible do not set yourself up.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts! So true…we can’t control the triggers, but we can minimize the response.

    Thanks so much for sharing! I appreciate it! Happy New Year!

  5. Loved the Trigger with scriptures. I have gone thru ptsd since 1990. God is bigger than my past, my pain, my abuse. Reading and meditating on scriptures evetyday. Christian music on when I’m in the car or doing housework. Focusing on the who calms the storm. In my mind, in my body, in my kids life.

  6. Love that! Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Pingback: Shame Vs Guilt | Speaking in Faith {with Faith Klein}

  8. Jennifer Welch

    This was very helpful for me, because I had one last night and couldn’t identify with what it was, or even that it was a trigger until I read this. Now I know, and I don’t feel like I’m going crazy. I need to learn how to deal with it instead of crying uncontrollably and my family wonder whats going on. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Thanks so much for your honesty and vulnerability. So glad this helped you process. I used these just last night too😍

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