I was scrolling on Tumblr and I came across something I thought would be so useful to our audience! These words were written by Daniell Koepke and they truly resonated with me!
The post started with an ask question that said "Do you have any advice on how to cope with triggers? Especially ones that cannot be avoided [?]"
Daniel's response is as follows:
Something that really helps me when I get triggered is asking myself the following questions:
1. What just happened that triggered me?
2. What emotions am I feeling?
3. (If you get an urge to use a behavior) Will using the behavior solve whatever problem/situation that just triggered me? (The answer is pretty much always no)
How will using a behavior make me feel afterward?
How will it affect the rest of my week?
4. What do I need right now?
Do I need comfort? A sense of control? Attention and acknowledgment? Affection? Reassurance? Safety? Support? An escape? To feel seen and heard? A way to quiet my negative thoughts? To have my feelings validated?
5. Is there a healthy, non self-destructive way I can get those needs met?
6. Is their a coping mechanism I can use right now to take care of myself?
Can I journal? Watch youtube videos or a movie to distract myself? Doodle or draw out my feelings? Color in a coloring book? Knit? Play with silly puddy or play doe? Cuddle with my cat? Curl up under my covers and listen to calming music? Rip paper or throw ice? Look at pictures online that make me smile and laugh? Go to sleep? Go on a walk? Write out a dialogue to challenge my negative thoughts? Take a bath? Light a candle? Meditate and do deep breathing?
7. Is there someone I can call/text/reach out to to get me through this?
(Maybe you could make a 911 list of phone numbers that you can use in the moment for support when you feel triggered)
8. Is there somewhere else I can go that will help me feel safe and calm myself down?
Your bed? The beach? A park you love? A bookstore? The house of a friend or family member? A coffee shop? Your favorite store?
9. What would I tell a friend or loved one to do to take care of themselves/challenge the negative thoughts that are coming up, if they were in my position?
10. Have I been triggered by this before?
What have I done in the past to cope that hasn’t worked?
What have I done in the past to cope that has worked?
Can I do whatever I did in the past that worked to take care of myself right now, in this moment?
It also might be helpful to develop your own self-care mantra.
Part of what makes triggers so uncomfortable and scary for me personally is that, in the moment, they feel like they’re going to last forever. But they don’t. They always pass eventually. That said, my mantra is about reminding myself that the painful feelings are going to pass. I usually say something to myself like:
“Breathe. You’re going to be okay. Keep breathing. Again and again. I know it hurts. I know you’re so uncomfortable. But you have to keep breathing. This will pass. Remember all of the times you’ve felt this way before and how each time, it eventually subsided and you found peace. Not immediately. Sometimes it took an hour or two hours or a few days or even a week, but the discomfort always passed in it’s own time. No is no different. You can get through this. Breathe. This will pass. I promise it will pass.”
I know that dealing with triggers can be so, so difficult, especially when they can’t be avoided. So if you try some of these things, or any sort of positive coping mechanism, and it doesn’t work, please, please don’t think that you’re a failure at recovery/healing.
Taking care of yourself when you’ve been triggered is difficult and it takes time to get to a place where you can do it effectively. So be patient and compassionate with yourself through this process. You’re going to do the best you can to cope with painful situations and triggering people, and at the end of the day, that’s all you can ask of yourself.
Your best is enough. And no matter how much you struggle with taking care of yourself and avoiding self-destructive thought-patterns and behaviors, you are enough.
Daniell, thank you so much for allowing us to share your words!
Daniell can be reached at: