It can be frustrating when we don’t know where our triggers, reactions, or symptoms come from.
Sometimes we can take some educated guesses at why we react to certain things the way we do— but sometimes our feelings and reactions are very much a mystery to us.
Over time, we often come to understand our feelings and reactions as we work through things in therapy and recovery— but some triggers and emotional or behavioral reflexes STILL baffle us.
The truth is, sometimes we’re just not going to know.
We may not ever truly discover WHY we’re triggered by a particular smell, a particular time of day, a specific tone of voice.
We may not really underhand WHY we react SO strongly to certain relationship dynamics.
We may not ever get that answer we so desperately want for WHY we feel what we feel and do what we do.
The thing is, even if we DON’T ever get that answer— we STILL have to MANAGE those feelings and behaviors.
We have to accept that our feelings and reactions are EXACTLY what they are.
They’re exactly as intense as they are— and they’re exactly as mysterious as they are.
It can be a real drag to not understand WHY we feel and do what we do.
Part of the problem is, we might truly think that if we just UNDERSTOOD ourselves a little better, we’d be able to control and manage our emotions and behaviors more effectively.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
My relationships with adult men tend to be particularly fraught. I think I have a reasonably good undemanding of why— the reasons, I think, have a lot to do with how I related to my father and my male peers growing up.
That is to say, I think I understand my issue with men fairly well.
That doesn’t seem to make it much, if any, easier to actually DEAL with adult men when I need to. I still get fairly easily triggered when I have to interact with adult men, and have to use my coping skills and tools to stay present and manage the situation right then, right there.
In my mind, what makes the difference in this dilemma is self-compassion.
I may not understand why my triggers are as they are. But I can have compassion for myself, that my triggers present the pain and complications into my life that they do.
When someone we love is suffering, we don’t demand that they explain their situation in a way that makes sense to US, before we offer them support.
When we love someone, we offer them emotional safety and support— even if we, or they, don’t quite understand why a trigger has affected them so.
We are always works in progress. Our recovery is always a work in progress.
Some days you’ll understand your triggers and reactions more than others.
Some days you’ll be a complete mystery to yourself.
Either way, we need to know that we are there for ourselves. We need to know that we don’t reject our need for support and care just because we don’t quite understand what’s going on.
It’s hard to NOT judge or reject ourselves when we grew up being judged and rejected.
Judgment and rejection may feel familiar— which our nervous system sometimes confuses with “right.”
Accept you’re feeling what you’re feeling.
Accept you need what you need.
Assume that your reactions make sense on SOME level, even if you don’t understand it right now.
And proceed with self-compassion, self-respect, and self-love.