We all have them.

Some are obvious.

Some less so.

And some are completely hidden until poked and by then it’s too late.

Do you have a client, a parent, a work colleague, another member of your team, or a supervisor who presses your buttons?

And because you know you are going to be sharing space with them, or working with them, your body is reacting even before you get into the room?

Or have you found yourself mid-session completely triggered by a client or parent’s actions or words?

Yep, me too.

& it got me curious, so in 2023, I started my journey in Somatic Therapy and nervous system regulation. What I learnt is how to find my triggers and what they mean.

Part of it is self-regulation.

But another part is learning about yourself, how you got to be the human you are, and what makes you tick.

This is the missing part when we are talking about triggers.

We can do all the mediation, breathing and positive thinking but in the moment when we react reflexively and not in the way we desire, it’s too late. Understanding why and how to prevent this from happening again is KEY.

For me, I am someone who is ALWAYS in my head. But when you are learning about your nervous system, it is all about being in your body and this was huge for me.

Learning to feel into my body, understand the feeling and allowing my body to let me know exactly what was going on was HARD. I had no idea what my body was feeling but like all things, with practise it got to be easier.

One of my triggers is the feeling of being trapped. Whether it’s in my schedule, my commitments, or physically in a car. Once I worked on this, I could understand the origin – my fear of failure. How did I figure it out? Let me tell you.

I was driving down the freeway panicking because my brain kept going “what if there is a cockroach in the car?”. I should mention I have a huge phobia of cockroaches. I was not ok. But through the very real panic, I started breathing and feeling into my body. Within 60 seconds I understood it was the idea of being trapped in a moving car with the cockroach that was making me want to flee. I kept feeling and breathing, and I realised that this fear that was coming up, the trigger, was actually because of a workshop I had committed to running and it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to. We weren’t getting the registrations, I couldn’t cancel or change the date and there was the impending feeling of failure.

Often our triggers relate to feelings of failure, feelings of not being enough or not being worthy. When we are with certain clients, parents, team members or supervisors, these situations can bring up feelings of inadequacy.

Once you know what your triggers are, rather than focusing on avoiding the person or the situation you can start to self-regulate. You can flip the script. You can make tweaks, or ask for accommodations.

You can start to make this shift right now.

Start by thinking about the last time you were triggered, and breathe through the feelings that come up. Be curious and feel into your body. An insight might land, it might not. This takes practise. However, if you start right now, it’s going to get easier.

& next time you are in a situation or with someone that triggers you, instead of ruminating on what you could have done differently, move out of your head, into your body and just feel how your body is reacting. For 60 seconds. 90 at the most. You might feel sick in your stomach, or your heart might race, or your fingers may tingle. Whatever it is, continue to breathe and feel. Your body will give you an insight into what’s going on for you and this will allow you to make a change which will be 100% more effective.

What’s more, doing this will leave you feeling empowered by breaking the cycle of reaction and regret. With this change, you have an insight into what’s going on that allows you to make the right change so it no longer affects you.

Allowing you to move through your day, week, month and year with freedom and ease.