Triggered

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Here's a lesson I learned recently:

People fail... and that's okay.

This is for those of us with trust issues. Maybe there's an area of fear, scarcity, or trauma within us that makes it hard to truly rely on other people.

These areas (‘soft spots’) become more sensitive when the people most important to us do or say certain things. We call it being ‘triggered’.

When you’re triggered, there’s a temptation to go into survival mode. For some of us, that looks like retreating from the relationship, for others it looks like confrontation or passive aggressive behaviour. For many of us, it’s somewhere in between. No matter our chosen armour, it makes us feel protected in the short-term… but leaves us feeling disconnected in the long-run.

That’s because we’re made for connection, so we crave it.

And that kind of connection feels like a risk because we place part of ourselves into someone else’s hands. This is what being vulnerable is all about. But when that person, knowingly or unknowingly fails to do what we expect of them, we get triggered.

Of course there are times when we must avoid danger and keep a safe distance. But other times the most simple, benign actions feel uncomfortable, because they touch our soft spots. Our fears. Our insecurities. Our doubts.

In these moments, instead of reaching for my regular armour, I tried something different. I remembered that people fail. We all have blindspots and weaknesses… and that’s okay.

Never let a short-term failure erase the essence of a person.

People are not their mistakes, contrary to our society’s ‘cancel culture’. Remember that they are on your side. The way to deal with being triggered sometimes goes beyond a direct conversation with them. It may also help to have an outside perspective through conversations with impartial friends, leaders, therapists and counsellors who can help you address the root of the issue.

Remember that God fills the gaps.

Apply this logic: If you believe God is moving in and ultimately supports this relationship — familial, platonic, romantic or otherwise, remember that also ultimately in God’s hands.

It’s so easy for us to put all of our expectations on other people, but the truth is that only God can handle that epic responsibility. This doesn’t mean that we should have no expectations of others. It means that when we feel disappointed by another person, our world’s won’t completely fall apart.

Tell yourself: because of God's promises and presence, I CAN trust this person and they CAN trust me, in spite of our failures. I CAN trust their intentions. I CAN trust the future. Because my ultimate trust is in the One who never fails… even when we humans fail each other.

“We have to step into situations with bold confidence (no matter what our anxiety is telling us) and trust that God will meet us there. If there is any lack, he will fill in the spaces.” — Hannah Brencher

Make room to trust the individual, including what you see as their shortcomings, and above that: trust that God will fill the gaps.

Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? Never! But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! — Isaiah 49:15

People are trying their best, so meet them where they are.

They were never designed to handle all of your expectations, fears, anxieties and traumas. As you shift your trust towards the One who can handle them all, your relationship with yourself and others will flourish.


Abiola writes and speaks about personal growth, spiritual growth and wellbeing. She’s the author of “Take What You Need”: life lessons for people who refuse to settle — download a free sample here.