Triggers— an unavoidable consequence of chronic sexual betrayal—are emotionally and physically distressing.
Triggers strike without warning and may become debilitating or develop into depression and isolation.
Most partners I’ve worked with have changed at least some of their daily routines and habits due to the painful impact of triggers brought on by sexual betrayal.
In the first 6 to 9 months after the discovery of infidelity or sex addiction, it’s completely understandable—and even recommended—that you protect yourself from any triggers that you have the power to avoid.
But if you avoid triggers for too long, your world can shrink.
You may even give up on your goals and dreams because it’s too painful to fully engage with the world—and life—as you once did.
The good news is that there are specific tools you can use to reduce and eliminate triggers. One of the most powerful tools you can begin using immediately to eliminate triggers is:
Identify Toxic Thoughts
Here are a few examples of toxic thoughts for partners:
- If I looked like her, he wouldn’t have been unfaithful.
- If I had done what he wanted me to do sexually, he wouldn’t have been unfaithful.
- If I were good enough/pretty enough/important enough to him, he wouldn’t have acted out.
Every one of these thoughts is toxic because they’re simply untrue. A lie.
Toxic thoughts will make you believe you’re less than, inferior, or defective. And they’ll cause you to feel tremendous pain and shame.
Triggers are inevitable. The pain that goes with them is in your power to change.
Identifying toxic thoughts is Step 3 of my Taming Triggers Solution process. The second part of this step is to identify a healing truth such as, “The addict is 100% responsible for his/her behavior. I am beautiful and complete.”
This is a healing truth because not only is it true, it places responsibility where it belongs—eliminating the unnecessary painful feelings that come with believing the lie that you’re not good enough or that you’re somehow at fault.
The 7 Steps of the Taming Triggers Solution Process:
- Name Your Triggers
- Rate Your Triggers
- Identify Toxic Thoughts
- Identify Triggers with Familiar Themes
- Tame Triggers Where You Have the Power
- Tame Triggers with Requests
- How to Handle Unavoidable Triggers
Working these 7 steps gives you more clarity, freedom, and a greater sense of ease and protection as you go about your daily life.
If you struggle with triggers—and most partners do—I’d love for you to join me for the next Taming Triggers Solution Online Course starting in Spring 2018. TTS will walk you through a step-by-step process of identifying and working with your triggers so that you can reduce or eliminate them altogether.
A partner who took the course last year told me that because of the tools she learned in TTS she was able to eliminate 75% of her triggers!
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2017)
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