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A Basic Strategy For Dealing With Triggers

April 9, 2010

Are you familiar with the recovery term “trigger”? 

Bob Damrau over at Every Man’s Battle has a very good article that talks about triggers and what’s going on underneath the surface when we are triggered.  LINK to the full article

Triggers set off emotional needs inside us.  Our usual response has been to act out sexually. 

• When we can’t tolerate feeling depressed, we tend to seek relief (fantasy thinking)

• When we can’t tolerate feeling isolated, we tend to seek stimulation (unhealthy relationships)

• When we can’t tolerate feeling like a failure, we tend to seek control (entitlement thinking)

• When we can’t tolerate feeling anxious, we tend to seek tranquility (masturbation) • When we can’t tolerate feeling criticized, we tend to seek self-mastery (perfectionism)



His article reminds me of the basic recovery strategy we need to employ when we are triggered

1.  Learn to identify the triggers.

2.  Look for the emotional need that we have.

3.  Act out in a healthy way. 

Here’s a good summary of what happened in the past and what needs to happen now:

• In your acting-out days, if you had a feeling, you probably would not know what it was. But if you acted out in some way, the feeling would go away. In this process, you may not have learned to identify feelings and hence can not meet your own real needs.

• In your early recovery, between usually the third to sixth week of abstinence from your acting out behaviors, you may begin to start recognizing feelings. This can seem almost like a thawing out of emotions. It is best to have already begun to identify your feelings so that they don’t confuse or overwhelm you and activate the cycle (unidentified feeling -> act out -> feeling disappears). In recovery, you get to feel without acting-out.

• As relapse prevention, if you can identify your feelings, you may better know how to handle or manage these feelings in order to prevent relapses.

• If a slip or relapse occurs, you may be able to track down what emotion(s) preceded this and move forward in your recovery process (identified feeling -> corresponding need -> needs met).

LINK to the full article
Related Posts
How to Win the Temptation Battle:  Recognize Your Triggers

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