5 Tips for Facing Triggers


Triggering Event

Today, I was cycling along to a popular spin app when Nine Inch Nails’ song “Closer” began to play. I know this song is said to represent self-hatred, but its lyrics are triggering for someone who has experienced sexual assault.

“Closer” began to play and I felt angry. I wanted to quit the ride and to make it all stop; the imagery in my head.

But then another part of me was determined to finish the ride. I did not get on the bike to just quit and feel defeated. I got on the bike to feel accomplished, strong, and to feel alive.

Below are tips on how I stuck to the forty-five minute ride and achieved my own sense of bliss.

1. I used radical acceptance to tolerate the song while it played.

At its heart, radical acceptance is about accepting experiences, beliefs, and perceptions, often without offering judgments or believing that things should be different than they are.

Radical Acceptance. (n.d.). Good Therapy. Blog Therapy, Therapy, Therapy Blog, Blogging Therapy, Therapy,.. (goodtherapy.org)

Instead of getting worked up that a song like that was included in a fitness playlist and making judgments about that, I just accepted that the song was playing. I also accepted that I will likely hear the song again.

2. I used TIP to change my body chemistry.

You can read about TIP here. Since I was on the bike, it was the perfect time to push harder and to use up my excess adrenaline.

3. I Focused on Forgiveness

It took me a long time, but I forgave my abuser and other people involved. I have grown a lot, and I did not want one song to push me back into feelings of anger or hate.

Peace feels too good to let go.

4. I Focused on Future “Me”

I thought about what I would think about myself once I was done with the ride.

If I quit early, would I be sad or frustrated with myself? If I kept going, would I feel the bliss I was chasing?

I decided that future “me” wanted to feel amazing so I kept spinning.

5. I Used Mindfulness to Build a Positive Memory

Once I worked through the other steps, I focused my attention back on the moment. I left my head and let it rest while my body worked hard.

Because I was able to feel the natural high you get from intense exercise, I was able to apply a positive memory to the song so that negative associations will decrease in intensity.

Don’t Let Triggers ruin your day.

Chase your bliss! You are worth every second of it!

Photo by Erlend Ekseth on Unsplash

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