Removing Triggers

How to remove triggers (I)

From Episode 7:


I just want to remind you to NOT do this unless you are stable. Your waters need to be calm, as you WILL take a hit.
You will take a small dip after this and need a few days break after it.
This is going to take a lot of energy, so REALLY make sure you are stable enough.

So for a short summary, what do we do?
First we ensure we have enough energy and are in a save enough environment.
Secondly I recommend working yourself up from a small trigger to a big one. But if you are not used to it, the small ones are hard to find, as they don’t cause such a strong reaction.
But the big ones are hard to handle, as much as they are easy to find, they also cause the biggest havoc and you also get the other triggers usually. So… it depends?.
Pick a target that you think you can manage. With time you will be able to spot them easily. And then move from there.
Thirdly we follow the triggers trail and push right into the heart of it. This is really kind of a rabbit hole and not always easy to navigate, but I will try to do my best to give pointers.
Fourthly we resolve the core of that trigger… and this way remove it. I assume this is the step most people have issues with. That’s why I want to do this step with several examples.
And final step is to make sure the trigger is truly gone and not just dormant. This is the most common mistake people make: Thinking the PTSD or trigger is gone, but its just dormant.
Which then leads for it to return in full swing weeks, months, years or decades later. While quietly leeching of energy.

Invisible trigger
The problem with most triggers are, that they are invisible… similar to a hidden trap… until you stepped into it, then its too late… and unlike a real trap you can’t figure a way out of it.
The trigger is invisible, a non visible enemy, so our fight or flight response… just makes us freeze or have a reaction, may it be an emotional outburst or something else.
Your body basically tries to fight a tiger that isn’t there and so the body doesn’t know what to do with this energy.

How to spot a trigger
But how do I find triggers? I mean its easy to know when you are triggered strongly, but what exactly was it? It can take hours until the trigger response goes into full triggered mode.
You watched a movie and don’t know what exactly did it? You keep reacting but have no clue what did it?
It is actually pretty hard to find them. The most simple instruction is: Go where it hurts.
But since that is hardly enough, I decided to make the next episode about just that. Most likely titled: How to hunt down triggers.
As you usually have already a few triggers at hand and know pretty well about them, but just not yet how to remove them, I thought it’s best to clear that up first.  
And once you got those and have gotten the taste of it, you will want to know how to find the rest.

Start it - Find the memory - Step 1
But first let’s clear how to remove them, once you found them.
First make sure the memory is what is causing the trigger. Yes one memory or moment. Most likely one sentence is what is causing the problem. The sentence you thought or said in that moment is that key.
You need to know it, as it is basically the position of the trigger. Its hiding spot. Sort of the secret entrance to the enemies secret base. You will get a response when you hear the sentence/the trigger.
You have to watch yourself just very careful for that. Try a bit around until you find it.
Some examples are:
The song that played during the car crash as the core trigger for what you saw during the crash.
The sentence “you will never make it” summarizing the yearlong emotional abuse of a parent or another authority figure.
The smell of your yearlong abuser, may it be the aftershave, sweat, fast food or other things.
The sound of the Taps played at the soldiers funeral to summarize the loss.
And so on.

It must have a direct connection, but not necessarily a logical one. Your brain made that connection. No matter how illogical it seems, but that is the connection that is there.

The most famous trigger I heard of from American veterans are the fireworks at July 4th, this most likely connected to the sound of explosives used during combat.
But the same rule applies here: The fireworks aren’t connected to ANY explosion, but to a specific one. One moment that summarized everything or symbolized everything.
Your brain hears the fireworks and remembers that moment.
And then everything just flushes over you… or later.
There are many ways to try to locate the memory, but that I will go over in a later episode, but for now we move on.

Step 2 - Facts are not important - emotions are
The second step is to find the real problem with the memory. Because facts don’t really matter. A trigger is an emotional response, it doesn’t follow the rules of logic.
As said before, it’s emotional. The trauma and the trigger both.
That someone died, even if it’s your friend, that is also a fact, as cruel that may sound.
You can’t change anything about facts, but you can change how you feel about them.
Usually what is really triggering are the emotions and feelings that were involved in that moment. Or that sentence or thought you had in connection to it.
But Facts CAN help us, they help us identify the situation and what was all involved. As our brain has sometimes the tendency in strong emotional moments to remember things… differently.
This will remain relevant.

An example for it is loosing something. The problem isn’t what you lost, but why you can’t let it go. Why do you feel you can’t let it go?
Another example is darkness. The problem isn’t the darkness. The problem what you fear HIDES in the darkness. So the trigger is what you fear that hides in the darkness and not the darkness.
And so on.

I just want to say, that I have to keep things incredibly broad. This is so that most people can use it, but it is not as helpful for a specific case.
I can help better if I know more details or if its about more specific cases.
I just try to grab as much of it as I can, to reach as many as possible. I plan to go into the different types of abuse, situations, etc. Later on, to give more specific help.
But it is still better if I get question or a specific scenario.

How to remove triggers (II)

From Episode 8:


Step 3 - Going down the rabbit hole
Step 3 is going down the rabbit hole… until we hit the core. And I tell you the word that is the key to it all… and you will be disappointed by its simplicity most likely, but the word is: WHY.
Similar to a annoying child you will keep asking yourself why until you hit the right answer. How will you know? You WILL feel it or most likely cry.
There is a feeling of truth when you speak the correct sentence. Because deep down we know the answers, we just have to find them … and/or admit them.
This step is harder than you might think at first, because you will try to avoid it. Just as you avoid a hurting joint subconsciously, so are you trying to avoid the core.
So we need keep pushing where it hurts, always asking why. Though it might not necessarily hurt, but you will avoid it out of fear … the fear about what the answer could be.
Some question we don’t ask, because we are afraid what the answer will be. Same applies here.
Sometimes you will not find an answer immediately.  Some answer take hours to days until you wrap you head around it, ESPECIALLY in the beginning, when you are still weak.
Give your brain the time it might need to think about it… or to swallow it. Don’t forget this is a marathon not a sprint.
Some realizations aren’t pretty and you need to be brutally honest with yourself. Only the truth will give you relief.
Your truth, not any truth, but the way you truly felt and feel. That’s why other people can’t help you as you can yourself… if you know how.

Two examples for questioning (though rather short ones):
Why am I crying because the lion hugs his raiser he hasn’t seen in years? - It’s just so sweet. - But why? - Because I want to hug someone like that. - Who do you want to hug? - A dead loved one.
Why did I respond so hostile toward that man? - He was unfair and rude - Yeah, but why did I respond so strongly? - Because I felt threatened? - Why? It was in public place with many people - I have seen it happen before and I know what comes next - Why do I know it? - Because I seen it - But why do I know? - Because I was assaulted and he behaved like he did when it happened.

The length of the chain may vary, but the important part is: TO JUST KEEP ON GOING. Don’t let it go until you go to the core of it. Take a break if needed, but do keep coming back.

Saying it out loud
This may seem rather off, but have you tried speaking out loud? There is a good reason why we don’t say some things out loud, because that means we acknowledge them and they become reality.
I am not sure what exactly it is, but the moment we say something it becomes something else.
And by saying it out loud I DON’T mean it literally. You can also whisper it. The important thing is that you say it.
So how does saying it out loud work in this context? Well theoretically everyone develops their own strategy, but for now I explain you mine.
First you usually have an area of your usually suspects. In my case its the tormentor, my father, my past, the future, my health, etc.
You say something out loud along the lines of “I am upset because of my health”… and if that is the correct sentence, you will feel it. If not it will feel false or like you are telling a lie.
Once you found the correct main area, you then have to narrow it more down, to smaller sub areas, like in this example “I am upset because of my healing chances”. And so on, until you hit the main spot.
Takes a bit of practice, but once you got your routine going it’s really easy. It can also help to narrow down your everyday problems… or what is REALLY behind them.

This method is also very helpful in hunting down triggers, but more to that next episode.

Step 4 - The prime target
Step 4 is dealing with the prime target. Now that you found the triggers core, what now? How do you deal with it?
One way is the 5 stages of grieving I talked about in the third episode already. The stages are Denial, Anger, Bargain, Depression/Sadness and Acceptance.
Those 5 steps are for a trigger that can’t be changed. May the cause of the trigger lie in something in the far past or in something forever lost to time. Something we hold on to.
That something doesn’t have to be something positive. We also hold on to bad things, because we are afraid of what will happen if we let go.
Sounds illogical, but the brain prefers a bad known situation to an unknown situation. And who knows what will happen if you let that baggage go?
These 5 steps are really helpful in letting things go.

But what do you do if something is permanent? Basically also the 5 steps, similar how people have to learn to accept they are sick or their handicaps, it also happens via the same steps.
I recommend looking for groups with the same symptomatic, as reading how they dealt with it, can be really helpful. Our brain is able to translate solutions from a similar situation into ours.
But really most of the time it is enough to find the prime target and just acknowledge it, IF it is not a traumatic experience.

But what if something is still ongoing? Then you have 2 options: You can either walk away from it or not. Or in other words: Either change it or leave the situation.
Otherwise you will get more and more depressed, because you feel you are stuck
First  let us go into; what If you can walk away from it. Are you sure you can’t walk away? Or at least get some distance? What is binding you?
Because social norms or rules don’t really count. Family doesn’t either, IF they are being harmful to you or toxic or anything like that.
It doesn’t matter if you are related by blood, if those people are toxic toward you and refuse to change. Sometimes a break is good and what was once broken CAN be fixed - but only if both parties are willing.
You don’t own anyone anything from birth. So ask yourself - what really binds you to something?
This includes work, family, overall situation and simply everything. But you don’t have to be radical about it. If you dislike your job everyday, then you might want to switch within the company or look for another job.
It is incredible what a change in surrounding can do to change your situation.
Depression can be caused if you feel like you can’t change anything on your situation and just suffer.
There is also such a thing called learned helplessness, where the person learned that whatever it wants to do, is pointless anyway, as it will fail anyway. So why bother?
Often no matter how bad the situation is, it’s the only one we have. What is left of us, if we walk away from the situation?
I recommend establishing an social circle or security circle outside and then slowly transferring there. And cut ties with people who bring misery in your life - long term of course.
Your time on this planet is limited, as is your energy, don’t spend it with people who not appreciate you and/or don’t care about your wellbeing.

Secondly, let us go into; what if you can’t walk away from it? And I mean REALLY can’t walk away from it. Maybe it’s your illness, that is harming you. Maybe something else.
As much you might not be able to change what is happening, you can change your feelings toward it. Everything is a matter of perspective. I AM being serious.
That is not just a motivational quote you can post on social medias to your contacts, but actually true.
Of course this is not achieved, by simply saying ‘OK, now I just see my problem positively!’, which is just nonsense.
Find the reason why it is really a problem. The methods saying out loud and ‘Why’ should prove helpful in this situation. Then I would recommend the same thing, as if something is permanent.
I might do an own episode on just accepting, what can’t be changed. The new fate, life, health, etc.
For me it meant, that I needed to bury my old life. The way I thought and lived. Doesn’t mean that everything now is impossible or taboo what was normal before.
There are MANY ways to get what you want, but it DEFINITELY is a change of thinking and living.
It WILL take some time to get used to the new life. Its a process, so take your time and don’t be too harsh on yourself. The important part is, that you get there.

Step 5 - Is it gone?
The 5th and final step is what happens after the 4 Steps -because  often then remains this uncertain feeling: Is it really gone? How can you know?
I would say by trying to trigger it.  
The best way to check if a trigger is gone, is by causing it to trigger. I would recommend careful testing. You can then turn it up.
Careful sometimes something triggers 2 different things. For example: Going fishing with your father. The fishing is a trigger and your father too.
That is the reason why poking afterwards is so important: First to make sure it’s really dead AND to check if there are any additional triggers left there.
Saying out loud a few statement can also be helpful to see if it is truly gone or just calmed down.

I just want to add in the end, that please don’t make the mistake, that just because you don’t have any more symptoms, that you are PTSD free. It is just dormant, and like a sleeper, will become active again over time.
And then you are usually older and weaker… it is better to finish it off and be finally free of it, because as long as there is still something left it still drains you and will drain more and more over time.
I heard so many times people say they got rid of PTSD, but they just beaten it and it retreated or was dormant. You really need to get it out root and stem. It is VERY resilient.
Also you can’t really restore yourself fully if it is still there. You need to be thorough. Otherwise it will always come back.