Welcome to Section 4 of our course. Today, we are going to explore the concept of personal triggers. A trigger is anything that evokes an emotional response, particularly relating to a past experience. When it comes to shame, understanding your triggers is vital, as it can help you navigate situations that might otherwise provoke feelings of shame.
Your triggers are personal and unique to your experience. They could be linked to specific situations, certain types of people, particular environments, or specific thoughts and beliefs about yourself. Recognising these triggers is the first step towards effectively managing your response to them.
In this section, you will be provided with a reflective exercise designed to help you identify your personal triggers. Reflect on situations or environments where you’ve felt shame, or certain people who seem to evoke feelings of shame in you. Consider what aspects of these scenarios make you uncomfortable.
On a piece of paper, or in a journal, create three columns. Label the first one “Situation/Person”, the second “Feelings”, and the third “Possible Trigger”. Fill in the columns based on your experiences. For instance, if you often feel shame when criticised at work, your trigger might be criticism or fear of not being good enough. As you write, don’t judge or minimise your feelings. This is your personal journey, and every emotion is valid.
This exercise will help you gain deeper self-understanding and will be a guide for navigating situations that may trigger shame.
Situation/Person: Team meeting at work where my project was criticised.
Feelings: Embarrassment, inadequacy, disappointment.
Possible Trigger: Criticism, fear of not being good enough, public scrutiny.
Or, another example could be:
Situation/Person: Family dinner where my brother made a joke about my career choice.
Feelings: Humiliation, anger, self-doubt.
Possible Trigger: Comparison, judgement from loved ones, not living up to family expectations.
Remember, these are only examples, and your personal triggers could be very different. It’s also important to note that the feelings and triggers may not always be obvious. Take your time with this exercise, and try to be as honest with yourself as possible.
In our next section, we will delve deeper into strategies to cope with these identified triggers and how to neutralise the feelings of shame associated with them. Remember, you are not alone in this journey and there are tools and resources available to support you along the way.