I’ve been thinking a lot about triggers lately.
When I completed my course of CBT many moons ago, the final stage of this was developing a plan to ensure that I didn’t have a relapse. A key part of this was avoidance of triggers that had proven over time to result in negative feelings, emotions, thoughts, behaviours.
Over the years, I’ve lost track of this and I have recently returned to some nasty habits. So I decided to write my new list and get this clear in my head.
It’s been almost a decade since I completed my Relapse-Ready Action Plan. As such, I’ve investigated lots of new behaviours and found even more triggers. Here goes:
My negative triggers are:
- Too much coffee
- Not showering first thing
- Not exercising
- Complaining/Focusing on what’s wrong/what I don’t have
- Sitting on the couch in the morning
- Procrastinating/Deliberating sticking my head in the sand
- Too much messaging/social media
- Allowing myself to worry without questioning this
- Guilt/blame (most often applied to myself)
- Not speaking my mind but allowing things to fester
- Avoidance of anything hard/uncomfortable/scary
- Unrealistic expectations
- Too much TV
- Getting up as soon as I wake up
- Not taking breaks when I’m working
- Making excuses
- Letting friends down (guilt kicks in here)
- Allowing negative, sulky, teenage-like body language to take hold
- Junk food and overeating/emotional eating
- Trying to mult-task when working
- Emotional spending
- Messy house, especially when it’s the kitchen
Many of these behaviours are linked to each other, and while some seem much more practical than others, they are all things within my control. They are all things that I can choose to either do/not do/stop putting off. Or things that I can choose to think about from a different perspective, reducing their chances of triggering negativity.
For example, I can either choose to stop drinking coffee. Or I can choose to continue drinking it, using it as a test to see if I can cope with anxiety sensations at home.
I can choose to let my friends down when I know that I don’t want to do something. But I could also choose to not feel guilty about this afterwards (admittedly, this might take some work.)
I can choose to not watch TV. Or I can choose to watch it and really enjoy it, rather than watching it while I work at my laptop/check my phone/think about what I ought to be doing.
So my whole thing at the minute, mid-relapse, is to try to either avoid or re-think these triggers, day to day.
At the same time, I’m not going to try to move mountains in a day. I’ll take things one step at a time.
And I’ll expect to fail at some or many points. When this happens, I’ll attempt to be imperturbable.
Because at the end of the day, the real trigger is me.
No matter what I’ve done or not done, consumed, thought at any given moment… it’s my choice to either let negativity in, or keep it at bay. The items list above will make it harder to resist bad feelings, but it’s me who makes the final call.
Do you know your triggers? Are yours similar to mine? Have you managed to avoid them, or at least avoid letting them trigger negative reactions? Comments welcome: