Hunting Triggers

How to hunt down triggers

From Episode 9:

 

The theory - Communication with the subconsciousness
Now why did I use the word hunt? Well, because we find clues, tracks and follow them until we reach the trigger or trauma. But how does it work?
There are several ways to go on about this, I mentioned a few in the last episode, but our biggest ally in this is our subconsciousness.
It knows where the triggers are and all that is going on, what you are filtering out. It just has ONE HUGE issue… it can’t speak.
Our center for language, speaking, etc. Is not really available for the subconsciousness. So we have to find a way to communicate with it.
And no, there is no magic spell or the like needed. We just communicate via pictures, memories, simulations - also known as dreams and so on.
Your subconsciousness is basically trying to communicate to you, where the trigger is hiding, but can’t speak.
Similar to a person sitting afar in a loud room, REALLY wanting to tell you something and is trying to make some gestures or the like, so you get what that person is saying./trying to say.
This also takes a bit of training and routine, but you can learn the communication with your subconsciousness, if you already knew it, HEY, good. Means progress can be achieved faster.

Dream interpretation
First off we take a look at dreams. Yes. There is scientific interpretation. How they figure that stuff out? I have NO CLUE. Like I am really asking that myself, but they do.
I think it has a lot to do with symbolism and deduction, but I honestly I don’t know.
But what is the theory behind it? Well your dreams are more or less a rework of the subconsciousness of the day or what it witnessed.
It is like a child reenacting a scene with dolls. And just like the child is in truth behind all those dolls, so are you. In the dreams from the sub you are everyone in that dream.
The person you meet on the street, the person you harmed. Like it is shown in the movie inception.
EXCEPT when they symbolize something or actually THAT person is meant. Parents are often the stereotypical father figure or mother figure, not NECESSARILY the actual person.
You can learn a lot from these dreams. The core of the trigger and/or trauma, what is really bothering you in the last time, the state of your mental health, warning signs you overlooked while awake, etc.
Those dreams can also be reached via daydreaming. But how do you recognize those dreams?
Well they are pretty distinct from the chaotic static you often have. They seem to be clear, but somehow still completely confusing. Like often the scenario makes NO SENSE. At all.
They seems to be stronger than normal dreams and somehow overemphasizing things? Like really intense somehow? You know it when you see it.
Oh and if you don’t get the message, the sub will repeat the dreams, sometimes slightly altered, until you get it.
Those are NOT flashbacks or memory dreams, those are not meant by it.
You can manipulate those dreams so you can even have sort of an open dialog with your sub, though that requires quite a lot of practice.
Until you reach a level, where you can easily remember your dream and its symbols, it might prove to be useful to have some sort of notebook, so you can write them down fast, before it all fades away.
As is a trend, if you might have noticed, you get better the more routine you get. As usual. As it is with everything as far as I know.
The interpretation of those dreams are a bit of routine, but you should get the hang of it in no time.
You can simple look it up in the Internet, just make sure it says psychological interpretation or so and NOT spiritual or esoteric or the like. Those are different sort of dream interpretation.
I will give you are short overview of a few most common or for PTSD important symbols.

List of dream symbols
Before I give you the list, I just want to say, that the most important thing you have to look out for in your dream is the mood. Was it happy? Was it scary? Was the air filled with anger?
Those dreams have their own set of rules.
Also reminder: When for you a specific thing has a different  meaning that it traditionally has, then your meaning overrules the typical interpretation.
If for you the color white means surrendering instead of purity, then that is the meaning of the color for you. It must be a strong association though, not just something you connect with it.
This list is really just a short overview to what I mean. Usually the explanation and possible interpretation is pages long. I could fill an own podcast with hours of material just going over the symbols.

First is Colors. One of the most important signs. Surprisingly. I still have issues remembering the color of things. There are of course cultural difference in the interpretations of color.
And the interpretation of colors is extremely variant. It influences our mood, appetite, stance toward someone or something, arousal, etc.
I tried to summarize the most important colors, but it was just too much. But if you see something important in your dream… write down the color.

Second is murder or killing. As PTSD often lead to very violent dreams, I thought this might be useful. Unless the person you are killing is someone very specific to you, the person you are killing is you.
Or an aspect of you, to be more precise. I once had a dream where I just killed a group of people and was really scared of the meaning.
But it just meant I had varies opinions on the matter and “killed” the other opinion until I came to the one that seemed right to me. A bit over dramatic if you ask me.

Third is paths. You most likely can guess this one, but it means the direction in life. If the path is obscured it means things are unclear.
A splitting path or crossroad, of course, as the saying goes, standing at a crossroad and you need to choose a path.
Generally the path you see in your dream is your life path. It is important to check its state, where it is heading and what is left and right of it.

Fourth is the End of the world… it tells you about a deep psychological impact on you. Something that shake up your whole world. Or is threatening to end it. This dream is a strong warning.

The fifth is dusk and dawn. While dawn stands for a new start, hope and a sort of awakening, dusk stands for calm, the end of a cycle and letting go.

The sixth is water. Water stands for emotions, feelings, cleansing, letting go, etc. Though mostly it really takes shape of emotions. Drowning in your emotions so to speak.

Last but not least transportation vehicles. The car stands usually for yourself and who drives it, is the one in control. The bus is us vs the world, the journey together and our role in it.
A ship stands for how we navigate in our and other peoples emotions, our life and if we are being controlled by our emotions.  
A plane is a hint that we might get ahead of ourselves… or that we made great strides or progress. A spaceship stands for ascending… maybe you reached the next level in your healing process?

Dream interpretation - Afterword
Just as an afterword, I want to say, that it is just important what is going on in your dream. Pay attention, try to actively look around and SEE what is going and what is around you.
This is just a tiny excerpt, the information is easy to find and I strongly recommend looking into it. If you want I can take a deeper look into it, but I at least need an episode for that.
This was meant to give you an impression of it and how its logic works.

Music
Another way is music. I think I am not surprising anyone, when I say music is affecting us, especially emotionally, strongly.
But we can also use it to decipher what we are truly feeling and help us discover memories. Songs are often associated with a specific time in our lives - or phase.
So we can use them to figure out when something has happened or the trigger might be hiding.
But since your emotions aren’t always clear with PTSD, it also helps us to understand in which state we are in. I recommend having a playlist with all sort of songs. Happy ones, sad ones. Everything.
And if you don’t really know what is going on with you at this moment, you just play this playlist and click so long until you find the right track.
I found that method EXTREMELY helpful, as I often felt loss with the amount of emotions that seem to block me.

Smell
A very effective way is smell, IF you already have a track. Do you have trouble remembering something specific? The details elude you?
Have you tried recreating the smells that are connected to that memory and/or topic? Smell is something the brain can’t block.
That is why many shops have specific aroma and smell in their shop, that make you more lax about spending. Fascinating topic, but smell can really bring memories back, that thought to be lost to time.
So if you have trouble remembering something, try recreating the smell. It will help you more easily to remember things.  It also helps of course with relaxing, getting back to reality and much more.

Speaking out loud
Last but not least, like mentioned in the last episode, speaking out loud helps also with the hunt. First it helps us find trigger that are also connected to the trauma/theme we weren’t aware of, as said before.
But it also helps us find new triggers. If you feel upset or the like, try by saying out loud a few opinions regarding that situation.
As before I recommend starting as broad as possible, to basically throw a large net and simply catch anything. Then narrow it down until you get it.