Have you ever considered the stories you have told yourself since you were young, convincing you of a certain reality that reinforces your insecurities? Something happened in school that made you believe you were not smart. You struggled with certain sports so you believed you weren’t athletic. Nobody laughed when you made jokes so you believed you weren’t funny. You were rejected so you believed you weren’t lovable. Your parents were critical so you grew up all too aware of your faults.
Despite our accomplishments, we somehow keep pulling ourselves back into not enoughness and imposter syndrome. We tell ourselves stories over and over that we convince ourselves they are true. This happens to all of us growing up and it moulds the kind of people we become and the limits we set for ourselves throughout our lives. These stories become our insecurities and any time something or someone inadvertently alludes to their validity, we find ourselves feeling triggered - affecting our mood and how we feel about ourselves.
Triggers are an emotional reaction to something that sets off a memory of an original source of trauma or hurt, whether it is conscious or subconscious. As such, they are very personal and can be activated by any of our senses - though, most commonly we feel triggered by the things we hear.
I should caveat here and say that triggers commonly refer to deeper forms of trauma - for the purpose of this article, I am referring more to the triggering of our insecurities and feelings of self doubt. Very often, triggers will cause us to have a reaction before we’ve even been able to identify why we are upset, which can also be very confusing and unsettling.
Some researchers have found that our brains store memories of traumatic events differently from other memories, which is why it’s so easy for us to connect a current feeling with a past trauma or hurt - our body and mind perhaps preparing to defend ourselves (fight or flight). When our thoughts are backed by so much insecurity, if someone else does or says something to validate our greatest fears of ourselves (that we are not enough), we fall into a downward spiral of self doubt. Which is why it is important to learn how to manage our insecurities.
When we allow ourselves to react rather than understand our emotions, we give our power away. It can be hard to not immediately react when feeling triggered, it’s a defense mechanism after all, but we need to give ourselves a moment to process first. Get curious about the way you feel. Question your beliefs and understandings, and try to associate them with something more positive. Allow them to help you grow. We need to learn to recognize the emotional trigger and then learn to associate it differently by separating truth from illusion.
Recognize the story or behaviour beneath the insecurity. Do you always anticipate bad things, convincing you of their reality? Are you a people pleaser or perfectionist and struggle letting people down or not getting everything right? Are you scared of conflict so you shy away from taking chances or being vulnerable?
Nothing in life is certain. Our beliefs are just thoughts we have prioritised and convinced ourselves to be true. Life is a gift we have been given for an undetermined amount of time. Try to get the most from it. Psychology Today says that Insecurity is Love’s greatest saboteur. So learn from your triggers and insecurities in order to better connect with your true essence: LOVE. Allow your triggers to transform you, and in so doing, they will transform your life.