Tips for Managing Triggers When *YOU* Choose to Process

There are specific things that survivors can do to prepare themselves to take advantage of the situation of being triggered in order to process their feelings and memories. By giving themselves permission in advance to stop, if necessary, they can also protect themselves if they are already overloaded, if it is currently unsafe to process, or if they are not able to be supported or support themselves sufficiently at the time.

If a survivor is currently vulnerable, yet wishes to use the opportunity triggerous material provides to process, s/he should prepare for that possibility:

  • Make sure you are in a comfortable situation;
  • Keep your journal, a drawing pad, reprogramming worksheets, comforting toys and some tissues handy. It is often helpful to keep a positive or inspiring object, image or guardian "icon" visible, something that reminds you of your desire to heal.
  • Remind yourself of your positive motives and possible short-term consequences, and your reasons for risking them. It is often helpful to make some message signs (block letters, so kid alters or vulnerable inner child state can read them). For example:

    This story may trigger my feelings and/or memories. I can stop reading if I need to. If I am very upset, I can __________ until I feel better, (Fill in the blank with what works best for you, for example, "listen to some music", "hold my teddy bear", "call a friend", "write in my journal", "yell, and pound on a pillow", "mash some clay", "draw ugly pictures", etc)

    I am choosing to read so that I can heal by honoring and comforting my pain. I do not want to add more pain through self-punishment in the present. I am willing to release old pain, but I do not want to become confused by it so that I think I need to be hurt anymore.

  • Be aware that narratives can sometimes open up associated memory fragments (a memory "bank") which can seem mixed, confused or contradictory. Remember, you have time to sort out all of the pieces. Things are not always as they first appear. Trust your feelings as valid to your experience.
  • Remember to ask yourself, "If I knew a child who just experienced what I am remembering or feeling, what would he or she need to feel comforted?" Then provide for yourself as best you are able.

The key to healing of the adult is the healing of the child.

next:  Switching Characteristics

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 15). Tips for Managing Triggers When *YOU* Choose to Process, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Last Updated: September 24, 2015

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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