So many of us who have been through a loss can find that there are certain things that trigger big emotional reactions. We end up wanting to eat all the chocolate, crawl in bed and just cry for days. But there comes a point where that just doesn’t work anymore.
In today’s episode I am teaching you how to become trigger proof. What this means is you are able to look at your most common triggers and learn how to neutralize them so they don’t affect you any more. I explain the steps to do this which are: Recognize, neutralize, question your story and then have confidence that you can heal and move forward no matter what you’ve been through.
Whether your triggers are related to your miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of your infant, these tools are going to change the way you look at what you are capable of.
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Music provided by ZingDog / Pond5
Hi, and welcome. How is everyone doing out there? As I record this, we are still in the middle of social distancing, quarantine, hanging out at home with all our kids and possibly our husbands, everyone keeping away from each other. The stores here at least have been a little more full. We. Do have like butter and milk and, and those things that were a little bit sparse for a while, but still no toilet paper, which is again, one of the funniest parts of all this.
But it’s funny to me because we still have toilet paper. So hopefully you all have what you need and you’re finding. Some good coming out of this and you’re being patient with yourself and just giving yourself grace as we all navigate this really, really interesting time in our history, and I know it’s gonna be quite the story when all of this has come to an end, at least as part of it as I planned this episode.
It was coming up on April 1st, and. I know that this time with Corona and things coming up, the April Fool’s day can be a really difficult day for people because of the fake pregnancy announcement. So whether you struggle with infertility or a loss or both, uh, there’s just. Something about those jokes that really hit people.
And so I thought, what can I do to help? I just wanna talk about triggers. And honestly, I want to tell you that you can become trigger proof. And what I mean by that is you can get to a place where those things that you may have called triggers just don’t affect you anymore. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about today.
And I think. For everyone who is a human, especially in this day and age, I think we talk about triggers a lot, and so I’m just gonna dive in, talk about it and give you my thoughts and I’d love to hear your thoughts anytime you wanna talk to me. I am at Amy dot Smooth Sounds Coaching on Instagram. You can dmm me, you can comment on my posts, whatever you wanna say, or if you have questions.
That’s what I’m here for. I just wanna open up, offer you some thoughts and so we’re gonna jump right into how to be trigger proof. When I was thinking about how to explain this, I thought about dogs and horses, and there’s a term we use there when we’re training animals, which is bombproof, and what that means is, Anything can happen and that animal is not going to react violently like a bombproof dog just means kids can climb all over it, loud noises can go off, anything can happen and that dog is going to behave the way we want it to.
And same with the horse. It’s not gonna buck, it’s not gonna bolt. It is going to be able to deal with. Whatever comes its way, and how we do this with animals is you have to teach them that these things that happen outside of them, like for example, a hunting dog would need to understand that, how to act around a gun, how to deal with the loud noises, how to deal with all the movement that goes on around them, and.
As you train them, they are desensitized to those things around them, and in that way they become bombproof. And it’s a little different with humans and with our brains. There are therapies out there where you would just keep introducing things that trigger you and. And desensitize yourself that way. But since that’s not what I talk about, we’re gonna talk about our mind and our choices, and using our higher brain to become trigger proof, meaning these things are still gonna go on around us.
That we previously might’ve called triggers, but we’re not gonna let them affect us because we have learned that they really can’t hurt us. Just like we teach these animals that a rope or a snake, or a loud noise, any of those things are not something that they need to fear or have a big reaction to. I want you to think of the top three triggers you have in your life.
Now, this could be related to your loss, but it could also be anything. If you have a piece of paper or the notepad in your phone, take a minute and write them down. You can pause this and just do that really quickly. For some people, it might be super easy. For others of you, it might take a minute. But what are the top three triggers?
What I see really often as triggers for people are pregnant bellies, pregnancy announcements, baby shower invites, jokes about keeping the tiny humans alive. Maybe a certain person who said something terrible and now it hurts every time we have to be near them. Memories or flashbacks. The baby section at Target.
Kids the same age as your baby would be going to doctor’s appointments, maybe even the smell of baby lotion or some other smell, like the smell of the hospital. Um, we know smells are they really imprint on our brain, and so smells can be a trigger. People asking how many kids you have, elaborate and fun, gender reveal videos or cliches that people say, and so many more.
And right now a lot of people are in a heightened state of worry with this pandemic, so triggers are seeming to be everywhere. If you are already dealing with pregnancy loss, now you’re doing it with restrictions and unknowns and going to appointments, and maybe even your birth alone if you already feared for your children.
Now, c Ovid 19 has added to the list of things that could kill them. If you usually watch the news now, it is a barrage of craziness all day, every day. If you didn’t really believe in conspiracy theories before, you are finding them making a lot more sense. Now, if you had scarcity around money or security before, everything is getting magnified.
If you struggle with your kids or your husband being in your space before, Now you’re in quarantine with them 24 7. If you were triggered on social media before, it’s just bigger and louder now, right? A few nights ago I had a dream. In this dream, it was one of those super vivid dreams where you wake up right after and you can just remember the whole thing.
It felt really, really real. And what was happening was my husband took my two boys, so my little boys are my rainbow babies, and he took them to a park. And in this park there was kind of a manhole cover, not a big one, like a little smaller. Hole in the ground that should have had a cover on it, but it didn’t.
And it had a water running underneath it. So it was underneath this grassy hill. There was kind of this waterway and it had a little hole, and somehow my littlest boy went in this hole and fell in this hole, and the water was flowing by, and of course he was swept away and my husband couldn’t. Do anything or get to him or reach him or help him.
And so again, dreams don’t always make a ton of sense, but he came to get me and we were going to this place to see what we could do. And I was gonna go try to help my baby. And something that I have in my dreams often is just this like it, it just took forever. And I was thinking, Like, I’m just walking across this whole grassy park and it’s taking forever to get over there, and I’m wondering why I had to come all this way and it’s taking so long and that there’s just not gonna be a chance that I’m going to be able to get my son out of this hole.
And of course we get there and know like he’s gone. He’s gone in this little hole and he in the water and. Just this total feeling of powerlessness and there was nothing I could do, and then I woke up. This could definitely fall in the trigger category, right? It was very, very real, but I. This dream is just a fact.
If I break it down, I had something happening in my mind while I slept in my unconscious mind, and when I woke up, I remembered it. I may have had some involuntary physical reactions to the fake danger in my mind, like faster breathing or sweating. Those things are also affect. Those in and of themselves do not make me feel an emotion.
I have to have thoughts about them. So if I freak out and take this dream as a bad omen, I am gonna be terrified, right? If I think maybe something’s gonna happen and this dream was a warning, then I’m gonna act out of fear and I’m gonna end up creating a lot of suffering for myself and maybe my son if I’m.
Super vigilant and just can’t let ’em outta my sight and just nervous all the time. I could really spiral on this dream pretty easily, and I’m gonna finish up this story in just a minute, but I want to explain that that’s what happens with all triggers. Something happens that is effect, we interpret it in our minds and attach a lot of meaning to it, which creates so much negative emotion.
Then we use that emotion to fuel the curling up in bed, eating the chocolate, and getting stuck in a never ending loop. We can’t escape it because we have given all our power to the trigger. We need the trigger to stop. And I want you guys to just take a minute and think, what do you do when you’re triggered?
When something happens, what is the emotion that you feel? Take those top three triggers. What emotion do you feel when those things happen? And then what do you do? So what is the consequence of being triggered in this way that you usually have? For some of us, we try to avoid it. We use buffering. We, there’s all these things we do to when we feel those emotions.
So when we. Want these triggers to stop. We fight a lot with reality and as you know, we will always lose that battle because life is full of triggers related to our loss. Like there are always gonna be other pregnant people. There’s always gonna be gender reveals. There’s always gonna be that sweet lady that just says the wrong thing to us.
All those things are always gonna be there. Of course there are other triggers in our lives. It may be that one person who brings out the worst in you or the things your husband or kids do, or maybe it’s politics, whatever it is that you blame, your big emotional responses on this work will help with those two.
But I’m mostly gonna talk about the ones that come after our baby or babies have died. A lot of terms get thrown around right now. Triggers and P T S D are two of them. Now, I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, but I have read a lot and studied and I have my own opinions and you are welcome to disagree with me.
I personally don’t think many of us actually fall under the diagnosis of a true trauma disorder, and that is a good thing. Because when we label ourselves this way, we are stuck. We often just resign ourselves to the fact that we have triggers or P T S D, and that’s the end. So many people just struggle along, not able to get much relief, although they may try all kinds of things because there underlying belief that they are broken.
And to make it worse, there’s also a common belief that these mental health issues are incurable. It’s a lifetime sentence to always feeling terrible because of these triggers or because of what happened to us in our past. I. Have you ever felt that way? Really think about it. And even if you did have a diagnosis, maybe some of you listening have had a diagnosis, we can always put that in the circumstance line of our model, and that means we can think whatever we want to about it.
And I am here to offer to you that it is completely possible to find relief in your life no matter what you have been through. So let’s start learning how to be trigger proof. What we’re gonna do first is neutralize the trigger. I would recommend not even calling anything a trigger, because that word implies that once the trigger is pulled, we just have no options.
A bullet is shot out, a bomb goes off. There is pain and damage inflicted. That puts us in such a powerless place. We are a victim in our lives, so I personally don’t use the word trigger. I don’t like it. It’s okay if you wanna use it, but just really take a look at what do you mean by that? Because again, it just seems like there’s no control.
The trigger is pulled in, what happens next? Just collateral damage. I want you to think about when you were a teenager, what set off big emotions in you? Maybe hearing that someone was gossiping about you or having a pimple on pitcher day or getting dumped in the hallway in front of everyone. Now, what would you say to your own child who had been in one of these situations, or a niece or a nephew or a friend?
You tell them that they’re still amazing and they don’t have to hide in their room crying, that they can still show their face at school, that it’s okay to be upset, but you’d remind them that it won’t last forever. Why is it so easy for you to see these issues so clearly when a teenager can’t? Because you know, with time, age, wisdom and a few less hormones, that what seems like the end of the world is really just part of life and we can decide what we think about it.
As an adult, we have much different thoughts about the exact same facts as our teenagers do. And this is just like triggers right now. And depending. Where you are in your grief work, a gender reveal seems like a personal attack, a reminder of all that you don’t have, but it’s just a balloon with blue confetti.
It’s just a bunch of pink m and ms inside a cake. It doesn’t cause us to feel anything until we have thoughts about it. And just like an adult learns to look at things differently than a teenager does, you can learn to look at the facts and circumstances that you would label as triggers differently.
Two, it’s totally possible. I wanna be super clear about this step. It is the most important and often the hardest one, especially when we are in the middle of a reaction. The way you neutralize it is to write everything down. Pick something that happened recently and get really specific. What are the facts?
Take out all the descriptive words. Get the situation into simple terms that no one could argue with. It’s so factual that you could prove it in a court of law. Now, I have a friend who is triggered by new babies being blessed in church, and I remember this being very upsetting to me for quite a while after Lauren died because it’s something that we didn’t get the opportunity to do with her.
If I wanted to neutralize this, I would think about the last time it happened. In our church, a baby blessing means that the child is brought to the front of the chapel and all the men who are friends and family surround her and say a prayer. The baby usually wears white clothes. Then they show the baby to the congregation.
So get really specific about what actually took place. If someone said something, you need to be able to put those words into quotes without your interpretation of them. Taking the time to do this will make all the difference. You’ll start to see that these facts or circumstances are neutral, even though they’re highly charged.
When you begin, you’ll see the edge start to come off. Narrow everything down as much as you can. Next, we need to recognize that a trigger is just a story you tell yourself about these facts, and it’s okay if you do, but if you are tired of how you feel, then I want you to open up to this possibility.
Let’s take the jokes about keeping the tiny humans alive. We’ve all seen the memes and the T-shirts. Many people think they’re funny and harmless. Some people even think they are encouraging on a tough mom day and some people are triggered by them. If it was the meme that caused your emotion, then all of us would feel the same way, but we don’t.
The reason is because we all have different thoughts about these jokes and our thoughts are what create our feelings. Some of these thoughts might be, people shouldn’t joke about that. People should know that it is hurtful to bereaved parents. And so many more. But the most painful one, once you peel back the layers is usually some version of, I failed as a mother because I couldn’t keep my baby alive.
And that’s where the big emotions come from, not the meme, not the t-shirt, but from what we make it mean about us. And with the baby blessing example, what story are you telling? There’s a baby in a church, in white clothes being held. While a prayer is said, everyone in the congregation will have a feeling about that.
Some will be excited. Grandma will be overjoyed. Mom may be worried about the baby crying or having a blowout in the white outfit and stressed because of all the families she has to feed later. Some people are bored. There is a whole range of emotions happening because everyone there has their own brain.
So what thoughts do you think are triggering? When I went to a baby blessing just six weeks after Lauren died, I had the thought. We should be blessing her today too, and that was terribly painful. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that thought. It’s perfectly understandable and there is no judgment, but you have to become aware of what story you are telling yourself in regards to your triggers.
I hear things like this all the time. They seem like facts, but they are not. They are stories, they are thoughts, and they’re optional. For example, mother’s Day is hard. It’s just never gonna be the same. No one acknowledges my motherhood, or no one remembers my baby on her birthday. People should say something.
It’s like they think he didn’t exist. Doctor’s appointments are terrifying. I have to unfollow everyone who gets pregnant. I just can’t deal with it. Or I keep getting emails about baby stuff and I hate it. It all needs to go away. Every time I get one, it just kills me. I want you to take a minute and pause this and look at your lists that you made before, and then just let your story flow.
No editing, just let it all out. Why do you hate those triggers? Why do you dread them? Why do you have such a big reaction to them? The reason this step is so important is so you can recognize the thoughts that you currently have, and then decide which ones aren’t serving you, and then you can learn to let go of them.
But you cannot skip these first two steps, no matter how many people agree with you or what you have thought until now. You don’t have to keep any story you don’t want to anymore. And I have to say here, this can be really hard to do on your own. So if you’re struggling with it, do not feel bad. This is why I’ve created a new program to help you through this process.
It’s just six weeks and you’ll learn to be trigger proof. I’m there to show you what’s going on in your mind that you can’t see yourself. If you wanna try this all on your own, you can do it. It takes dedication and definitely you’ll need a notebook to get some of these thoughts out. But working with a coach is a whole other level, and it’s so worth it to be free from this roller coaster of triggers.
I like to say it’s like reading a lot of books about riding horses compared to actually getting on a horse. I was that girl who read every black stallion novel ever. I loved horses and I thought I knew a lot, but it didn’t compare to when my mom’s friend who had a farm let me come and really learn to ride.
My last thing I wanna talk about is confidence. Confidence in yourself. Whatever has happened in the past, it’s over now. Whatever triggers you wrote down, it may be three or it may have been more than that. I wanna tell you that today you can decide that they don’t trigger you anymore. The only thing creating your feelings right now are your thoughts right now.
You have to believe it’s possible to stop letting these triggers control you. You have to believe that you are capable of change. You have to believe that there will come a time. When you’ll be able to live a life that isn’t impacted by your circumstances, because you will have learned to manage your mind around them.
And this doesn’t mean you’ll be a heartless robot. It just means you’ll know where your feelings are coming from and you will decide on purpose how to feel them. When it is my daughter’s birthday, I might wanna feel sad and miss her. When I see a news story about someone treating a baby terribly, I will want to grieve for that child and for the difficult things that happen in this human world.
When someone complains about being up all night with a newborn, I can feel empathy for that new mom and also disappointed I’m not up with my own child. This life isn’t about feeling happy or feeling nothing. It’s about embracing the entire experience on our own terms. Give your future self the gift of doing this work.
Now, it’s not just gonna happen on its own. We are told on all sides that triggers exist and the only way to feel better is to make them stop. But I’m offering you something different. It’s a chance to decide for yourself what will affect you. And the way we gain confidence is by doing things that scare us, like looking deep into ourselves and being willing to truly question what we’ve believed for so long.
Our brain loves to expend the least amount of energy possible. It’s going to resist, but that’s when you know you are onto something. If you’re listening to this now and realizing that it’s worth the discomfort of letting go of the triggers, instead of staying stuck in the pain any longer, then it’s time to go for it.
You can forge new neural pathways, you can release your past and show yourself that you don’t have to be afraid of your triggers anymore. You’re gonna free up so much energy that you can put towards more important things. After I woke up from my dream, I was upset. I went into my bathroom and cried, and I breathed.
I went to my baby’s room and I checked on him. My husband woke up and I told him what had happened. I let myself feel all the feelings in my body, and I also decided that the dream was just a dream. It didn’t mean anything. It wasn’t a warning that my littlest rainbow would die. I chose not to obsess about water or drowning or manholes, or continue in panic or fear.
I chose not to spend a lot of time or energy dwelling on it because I have practices for a long time. This dream did not affect my life longer than an hour or two. It was incredibly vivid, and in the dream I was powerless. But in my own life, I have all the power because I can coach myself. That’s where true confidence comes from.
You create it when you’re confident, you show up how you want to. You can be the mom you want to be to your living children and your angel. You can be the friend you want to be. You can be truly happy for other people’s successes. You can make the best decisions for you free of drama or worrying about what other people think.
If it’s best for you to leave groups or unfollow people online, you just do it. You can choose to go to baby showers or not, but you let go of the hurt and the fear and the expectations. You’ll use confidence to drive you to do the things you need to do to heal. Whether it is hiring a coach, doing E F T, trauma release therapies, or so many other things, whatever you want to do in your action line is up to you, but you can create the confidence first and then move forward knowing that healing is possible, full and true healing.
You’ll probably still notice some of these triggers. That’s okay. It’s not a problem. Of course you will. Your brain has been hyper aware of them for a really long time. But the more you do this work, the less power the triggers have over you. You may choose to work to change the conversation around baby loss, but instead of needing people to act differently so you aren’t triggered, you are gonna heal yourself first and then come from a place of love, confidence, and compassion to educate others.
And your emotions won’t be tied to whether they listen or not. You can be you in the world online and in person because you aren’t scared anymore. The world needs more. You. If we wanna change things, we have to be strong enough emotionally and mentally to get out there and share our truth. We are not victims.
We are strong mothers, and we are the voice of our babies. There’s nothing more powerful than that. If you are ready to be free of your triggers, click the link in the show notes and let’s talk. It really is possible mamas, and I can show you how. If you have a friend who struggles with triggers, Will you share this episode with her?
And if you’re loving what you’re learning here, please rate and review this podcast and don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate all of you guys for listening, and I love talking with you. In summary, just remember, neutralize those triggers, identify them, then figure out the story you are telling.
And after that, let’s work on confidence that you can heal, that you are capable. Have an awesome day, you guys. Sending you all my love.