The recent news about overturning Roe v. Wade really triggered me. My nervous system dysregulated: I couldn’t focus, I felt outside of myself, everything started to look bleak, and I felt personally attacked in a very visceral way that went deeper than I could articulate.
I want to be effective and useful in advancing the cause of women’s and reproductive rights. I also knew I wouldn’t be as effective or useful if I was stuck in a panic spiral, with deafening alarms going off inside my brain.
I’ve dismantled loads of other triggers within myself and with clients before, so I took the weekend to start that project again – this time on a new trigger that I hadn’t known was there, and didn’t totally understand yet.
For those embarking on a similar effort, here’s what that looked like for me:
I let all that roll through and out of me on its own timetable. Thankfully, because this is far from my first rodeo, it all unfolded fairly quickly. The relief afterward was immense.
Triggers are always SELFish – meaning that they’re a callback to a real or perceived threat to the self. Even though triggers appear to come from the outside, there’s always an inside reason from the past that the issue feels so intense and activating. This is not about victim-blaming. On the contrary, it’s about finally giving voice to the parts of you that didn’t get adequate expression or care back when the original thing happened, so it doesn’t have to scream at inopportune moments (via a trigger) just to get your attention.
Uncovering and compassionately tending to those inside reasons is a critical first step to not only finding safety and re-regulating the nervous system in the moment, but also making that trigger a little less intense the next time around. Then, from that place, you can make wiser decisions about how to move forward.
Going through this reflection process did not alter my moral convictions about, or the appalling ramifications of, the end of Roe. It didn’t dampen my passion to do something about it.
This process DID allow me to restore a sense of basic safety within myself (which, in itself, is actually a key way of reclaiming personal power from the misogynistic power dynamic underneath all this). From that place, I can take more creative and thoughtful action.
How do you return to a sense of safety after being triggered?
What important impact could you have from that place?