Experiencing trauma can rob you of your emotional freedom.

So much of the time it can feel as if someone else is in control of your emotions.

This is neither a fulfilling nor healthy way to go through life. Happiness, emotional freedom, tranquility–these are all things that you can possess. By learning how to manage your trauma triggers, you can regain control of your emotions and lead a more pleasant life.

Here are a few tips on how to do that.

Learn to Recognize Your Response

If you’re like most people, you will recognize an emotional response to a trauma trigger before a physical one.
The backward thing about this is that your body tends to be the first responder. Think of your body as the frontline soldier in the battle against emotional triggers.

Learning to recognize your physical responses will help you to stay a step ahead of your emotions.

For example, you might feel frustrated in a certain situation. But five minutes before you recognized your own frustration, chances are your heart rate increased and your breathing quickened.

By increasing your awareness of your own body, you can predict how your emotions will follow suit.

Determine What Triggered You in the First Place

Figuring out what set you off might be the hard part. It might also take a little more time than you’d like.

With a little diligence and patience, though, you will soon be able to identify your trauma triggers. They might be hidden within mundane situations or stick out like a sore thumb. Everyone is different.

The quicker you can identify your physical response to a trauma trigger the more accurately you can pinpoint that individual trigger.

When you know what behavior or situations signal a negative response in your body, then you can put that information to good use. For instance, you will feel more in control and you can decide how to approach managing that individual trigger.

Challenge the Way You Feel

Just because a person or situation leads you to feel one way or another doesn’t mean you have to continue to feel that way. In short, you don’t have to accept your first response.

If you’re prompted to feel panicked or overly frustrated in a situation, then stop and take a step back, especially, if the emotion is overwhelming you.

All-consuming feelings aren’t typically ones to trust.

Ask yourself if the emotional response you’re feeling is rational given the situation. Most of the time it’s not, but it might seem like the feeling overtakes you anyway. Such is the nature of a trauma trigger.

Rather than surrendering to the negative emotions, challenge them. You have the right not to feel frustrated or panicked (or whatever emotion is prevalent). Ask yourself what it is that you truly want to feel.

Manage Your Feelings via Your Body

Aside from mentally challenging your emotions, you can also manage them with the help of your body.

When overwhelming emotions come like a flood, try to be extra aware of your body and environment.

Not only will this serve as a mental distraction, but it will also help to calm your emotions by way of your nervous system.

Like during the actual traumatic experience, trauma triggers often activate the fight-or-flight response. The parasympathetic branch of your Autonomic Nervous System can be engaged by controlled deep breathing, and can shift this bodily system back into a state of calm.

Take a moment to breathe deeply and focus on the way your body feels.

It may seem simple, but this deep breathing can have an incredible impact on the way you feel. You will feel more empowered and more in charge of both your body and mind.

Take the first step…

If you are ready to regain control of your emotions after enduring a traumatic experience, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

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