A trigger is something that just makes you absolutely crazy every time it appears or occurs.  It’s not due to something happening in the moment, but something that has happened before and that hasn’t been resolved.  Like an absolute gag reflex to even a mention of peppermint schnapps because you got drunk and threw up after a night of Fuzzy Navels or outrage at a particular Geocacher because they always manage to get the ‘first to find’ for any new geo-cache in your area.  Everyone has them, something in your past that when something similar occurs it sets you off.  Of course, triggers come in all sizes and types from the eccentric but harmless to the created a serial killer versions.  Most of us land on the harmless side of that spectrum, but triggers can be a real issue in relationships and in communities.

Events brought on by triggers can seem supremely random.  Someone does something, then someone says something, and the next thing you know, someone else is really angry and letting everyone within ear shot hear about it.  Well, I’m all for better out than in, but events like that can be very harmful for everyone involved if they aren’t handled with a bit of compassion and some openness to inquiry.  The reaction itself becomes an event that causes people to react and this can lead to misunderstanding, damaged relationships, and ruined events.  The underlying issues or messages get lost or can’t be heard because of the reaction.

Stepping back from the situation and allowing the emotions to subside can help alleviate the short-term effects and permit people to investigate the why. That kind of conversation can look like this:   “Why did you get angry when I laughed at that moment in the movie?  Because it seemed like I was laughing at you?  But I wasn’t…but you feel you are very similar to the character and the situation and it’s not a laughing matter?  Ok, can we talk about that?  I don’t want to judge, I want to understand…”  Being able to talk about it instead of blaming, judging and reacting, can allow everyone to heal and to build stronger bonds or at least not harbor resentment.