When We Are Triggered by Our Mate


Did your mate trigger you?

All of us get triggered by things that hit us in our sore spots. Usually these are unexpressed hurts from a long time ago that are still as tender as they were when they occurred.

Triggers Cause a Fight/Flight/Freeze Response

Triggered people may be combative when their fight response kicks in.

And when something in our present day life touches that spot we react. Everyone who has these tender areas reacts. We usually keep them stored up inside our bodies and we leave them alone. But when something touches it, we might have a very big reaction.

This is also very human. Our sore spots travel in the zone of our undeveloped brain. It is where we fight, or flee or freeze. This is the same kind of brain that we share with reptiles. Our smart brain where we have logical and rational thinking is not available to us, only the reactionary brain is available.

And when we are in a close relationship there really is nowhere to hide. If someone crosses a boundary or says something that triggers our hurts, well we will react. Some of us will lash out, others will leave the situation or freeze.

Triggers May Temporarily Blind Us to the Causes of Our Pain

Our feelings when triggered can blind us to things inside and outside of us.

This is just how the body is designed. It is also an invitation for the person who was triggered to do something about the hurt places. In fact when you are with your loved one, you will be triggered so many times you have a world of healing right in front of you.

But unless you are familiar with what is happening to you, you will not be able to understand what is going on. I remember when I was early in my relationship with my husband, and one time he left my name off a letter he was sending to the couple who hosted us for a fabulous lunch.

That’s all he did. He left my name off the letter when he signed it. This sounds innocent enough I know, but this triggered me. You see I carried around some worry that I was being abandoned. I didn’t know this was something that was inside of me, so in this instance I just exploded.

I know now, and my dear husband knows that sometimes that little girl in me feels all alone and this is a trigger for abandonment. I have healed much of that wound and don’t react like that anymore, but when I saw what happened to me, I began the healing process.

Therapy Can Help Us Identify and Manage Our Triggers

Therapy can help us learn about and manage our triggers, like the women pictured.

If you can see that every time you are triggered by someone or something, you are touching something very important to you. I don’t know how you are wired, only you and maybe a therapist can figure it out, but I invite you to take a look.

Our triggers are invitations for us to uncover what has been bothering us, and it might have been inside us since we were little children. It doesn’t matter how long it has been there, if we can notice that we had a strong reaction to something and we look inside ourselves to find out what it is, we might just understand what happened to us and then the healing begins right there.

When we heal our triggers we don’t react to things as much anymore. We understand ourselves, and our partner can share in the understanding if we choose to tell them. Like I did. And sometimes when I am quiet in a crowd my dear husband will ask, “Did you feel abandoned?”

The answer now is no. I am fine. I have healed that wound.


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'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Learn how to better manage difficult emotions in your relationship and communicate more kindly in your relationship, by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might help both of you feel more kind, positive, and loved. Give it a read.

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