Me Afterwork

Trauma Triggers

What Are Your Triggers?

I’ve been hearing a lot of people say lately say that something really “triggered” them so today I thought I’d deep dive into what this means.


What is a trauma trigger?

A trigger is when some kind of stimulus prompts a recall or flashback of a traumatic experience.

For example, perhaps when you were at primary school there was a particular teacher who always made fun of your weight when you lined up at the canteen for lunch. Whenever you were in the queue ready to buy your sausage roll, you jangled your coins in your hand and several times this teacher said “someone’s hungry aren’t they?”.

Now as an adult, let’s say you’re out at a work dinner. You’re having a great time, chatting away and just as the waiter puts your plate down, a co-worker sees your meal and jokes by saying ‘someone’s hungry”. The minute you hear it, your psyche takes you right back to being in the canteen line feeling embarrassed and belittled. The same might occur if you walk past a bakery cooking sausage rolls or hear the clinking of coins.

If you haven’t done the work on healing the hurt that little primary school version of you felt, chances are that you’ll be triggered frequently. When we’re triggered it’s difficult to act from a place of reason and most of the time our response is highly emotional.

Some common trigger-based reactions that I see cover the following topics:

Topic, Traumatic Experience, Trigger Example

Money (Topic), Growing up always dressed in hand-me-down clothes (Traumatic Experience), A friend asking if you’re going to the local buy-swap-sell clothes day (Trigger Example).

Feeling Left Out (Topic), Being picked last for a sports team at school (Traumatic Experience), Not quickly hearing back from someone after you went on a date with them (Trigger Example).

Conflict (Topic), Hearing parents always arguing and then consequently divorcing (Traumatic Experience), Your partner telling you the pasta needs more salt (Trigger Example).


How we can neutralise a trigger

Ideally the first step is to figure out what general topics trigger us. To do that, have a think about what prompts you to snap back at someone, get teary or feel instantly angry. Once you’ve got that, you can work through a number of techniques to see which one starts to calm down your reaction as you discover more about the topic.

Here are some practical techniques to trial (remembering that this might take some time):

  • Journaling
  • Talking it through with a friend (or a life coach)
  • Energetic Healing (Sydneysiders, check out The Healing Circle I’m running on April 30th )
  • Emotional Freedom Techniques
  • Self-regulate your nervous system eg. Through mindful breathing techniques


About the Author: Tammi Kirkness is the Head Life Coach and founder of VisionScope Coaching. She is an energetic healer, clairvoyant, qualified yoga teacher, meditation instructor and a Clinical EFT Practitioner working 1:1 with clients daily in her Surry Hills practice. Additionally, she is an international speaker and ex-corporate warrior with a business background in executive coaching, people management and human resources. She has worked as a clinician with both adults and children internationally and has studied under monks in the south of India. Among her repertoire, Tammi has worked with Fortune 500 companies, middle eastern royalty, government bodies, direct selling companies and start-ups.

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