Trigger Threshold Video

Hi Girls –

About two weeks ago – I stole away to the RL office for a couple of hours to write a blog post and ended up shooting this quick video after I realized I wasn’t able to make an infographic that made any sense.

The video goes along with this blog post – specifically where I talk about triggers and having an awareness of our trigger threshold and essentially how when we are stressed – our threshold for getting triggered is lower.  Lower sounds misleading.  Having a lower threshold for being triggered actually means we will feel the trigger more.

Be aware that when we are more stressed, our propensity for being triggered increases.  In addition, when the threshold is lower, the trigger is going to feel stronger.  This awareness can help us be more gentle with ourselves and put safeguards in place while we navigate stressful times.

Let me know what you think and here to answer any questions you might have.  Just leave a comment below.  I read them all and for the most part respond to all the comments.

xo – Shelley


Getting Back on My Feet

Well girls – I shared in the last blog post about my not so ideal reaction to this COVID-19 situation.  It took me three weeks to fully crawl back onto my feet  (and when I wrote the last blog post, I was on my knees) – you can read briefly about that in my latest newsletter.  (And if you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter – you can do that here.)

What I was reminded of, once again, is that I am a very slooooooow processor.  It takes me quite a while to fully work through changes, especially stressful ones.

I realized three different things that played into my wipe out and I want to share them with you in hopes that it might help you get back on your feet if you are still on your back. (And can I just say – for those of you that might be on your back or on your knees – be there.  I was there again yesterday – this is truly one-day-at-a-time-kind-of-work.)

1 – Acknowledging loss.

I don’t know what you might have lost during this quarantine.  But we have all lost something.  Part of me shifting from stunned, barely breathing on my back to a place of grounded, firmly planted and aware was to acknowledge the losses.

Here is a partial list of what I lost:

1 – time to be creative (I love developing content, writing, working on the boundaries course, shooting videos; not to mention decorating my house and dreaming up how to make it more comfortable and more of a home).

2 – three coaching courses that I was scheduled to take in April and May – cancelled.

3 – a May retreat that I had signed up for in Lake Tahoe (part of my quest to not accept crumbs anymore and to love myself well) – rescheduled.

4 – quiet time in my home to actually think.

5 – I feel like I lost 11 critical weeks of planning for the summer (’cause summer causes me some major stress).

Now I realize that my losses might look differently than yours, and that’s okay – it’s so important to name the losses, whatever they might be.

Once I was able to acknowledge and grieve the losses – I was able to give myself space to reflect on the benefits and celebrate them – but I wasn’t able to do that until I had acknowledged the losses.

2 – Old coping mechanisms and behavioral patterns.

It’s like the flip of a switch, it’s so automatic in me.  Stress and danger cause me to go back to the old patterns and old ways of doing things.  For those of you that are familiar with this book – I’m an Avoider.  What that means is – my default setting is to restrict my emotions and needs and to be independent.

To be clear – this old way of coping isn’t effective; it might have been growing up (at least in some ways it worked back then) – but it isn’t anymore.  The key is to be aware of the old coping mechanism cropping back up and to course-correct as soon as possible.

Think about what your old coping mechanisms look like.  It could be isolation, eating your feelings, procrastination, making sure everyone else is okay and forgetting about yourself, numbing out by watching too much media, etc.

It wasn’t until I cried it out in vulnerability and asked for what I needed that Jason reminded me – we are a team.  And he can help.  He can give me the much needed quiet that I was so desperately wanting (and he did just that by taking the boys on a 4 hour car ride to nowhere the very next day).  Game changer.

Some of you, I realize can’t cry out to your husband.  It would do no good.  It’s still important to cry out to someone – to God, to a trusted friend, to a therapist or coach.  Take that step.

3 – When stressed – the trigger threshold is lower.

About six years ago, I started getting migraines after I would exercise.  It was pretty dreadful.  I was desperate to get rid of them and I came across a book that helped me conceptualize migraines in a different way.  What the authors postulated was that we are all susceptible to migraines.  For some of us – our threshold for getting a migraine is lower (as in, it’s easier to get them) and for some of us our threshold is higher (as in, it’s harder to get a migraine).

The key is to do whatever we can to increase that threshold level so that we stay further away from activating a migraine.  (So I had to stop eating tomatoes and peanut butter and almonds.  It was sad.)

Back to triggers – know that the exact same principle applies.  Remember, triggers find us – we don’t have to find them.  And – when we are stressed (think: worldwide pandemic) – our threshold for getting triggered is going to be lower (as in – we are going to be more apt to get triggered).

Simply put: more stress = more triggers.

So during those first three weeks of quarantine – I was more hypervigilant.  I was watching Jason – and found myself being super sensitive to certain things he did or didn’t do.  My trigger threshold was lower and even small things were sending me into a state of panic and distress.

Again, awareness is key.  I needed to do what I could to decrease the stress I was experiencing in order to increase the threshold for getting triggered.  I also needed to communicate to Jason what was going on.  I needed him to partner with me in navigating the triggers.

I shot an off-the-cuff quick little vid for you to watch just to make sure I explained this properly. I have to be honest – it’s hard for me to post it – why couldn’t I have at least put on some lip balm and nose powder?!  Nope, not even. #keepingitreal

I will post the video soon – stay tuned!

As always – let me know if you have any questions, I love hearing from you!

xo – Shelley




On what I’ve been learning about triggers

Triggers have been a hot topic in my groups over the last couple of weeks.  It’s been really good to have these conversations about how to recognize a trigger and how to work through them.  It seems with each group, I’ve learned something new about these triggers and I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned here:

1)  Everyone on God’s green earth is triggered, none of us avoid them.  And in the aftermath of sexual betrayal – they are ugly.

2)  I defined a trigger in this blog post as a “any situation, thought or feeling that causes us to feel fear or decreased safety within our marriage.”  Although this is accurate, there is more to the story.  A trigger is also something that reminds us of the past.  Whether it be a situation from childhood or from disclosure or anything in between, remember that a trigger is connected to our past.















Photo source

3)  I believe it’s important for us to recognize how we respond to triggers.  I typically don’t even realize I’m in the midst of a trigger until hours or days later.  The quicker I am at pin-pointing that I’ve been triggered, the quicker I can work through the trigger.  I’ve found for myself that my “reaction” tends to either look like getting angry or withdrawing.

4)  Piggy-backing off of #3, keeping a close eye on our emotional reactions to interactions with others is also something we can use to help identify our triggers.  Think of these reactions as a litmus.  If there is a high emotional charge after an interaction with someone, it might be a trigger.  (Thank you Heiti for pointing this out!)  Go ahead and work through the process and see what you come up with.

5)  Figuring out what we need to feel safe can be tricky.  Remember that you might have more than one need. I’d encourage you to split these needs into short-term needs and long-term needs.  Think of a short-term need as something that you can do for yourself (as in self-care) in the moment.  It could be taking deep breaths, going for a walk, or reading a book.  Long-term needs are probably a little more complicated.  And you might have to try something before knowing if it helps.  For instance, a longer-term need might be this:  Not driving by a certain area of town that reminds you of what your husband did when he was betraying you.

6)  And finally, working through a trigger shouldn’t be done alone.  Reaching out and processing these triggers with others helps each of us learn more about ourselves and learn more about what we need.  Ultimately – these terrible triggers have the potential to refine us.

I have a five-step process that I use to work through triggers.  If you’d like to look at it, feel free to leave a comment (you can do this anonymously if you’d like) and I will send it your way!