This article is written in the hopes self-compassion is used when it is realized that a potential trigger may arise even if it is just mentioning the name of a movie that was traumatizing in childhood. To be clear it is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional assistance. My only aim is to assist self-compassion.
The first thing is to understand that no trauma is stupid. If you got impacted by something, even if it was “just a movie” there’s a reason. What I’m saying is be kind to yourself, please. If you punish yourself even further, it only becomes nightmare material for who knows how long. 17 years for me.
Make a bullet list explaining the trauma.
Does it make you feel vulnerable? Does it bring up insecurity? Write it down. Or speak it out. But don’t make a paper that goes around in your head, to overthink, just get it out without judgement. Then, you’ll see you’re not being so stupid. There’s deeper meaning behind reactions, in my experience. For example, being traumatized because immobility is used to administer torture in The Mummy when I was 10 and I couldn’t get off the couch and was too scared to ask for help.
Allow for the possibility that you may be triggered.
1 Make a commitment to let emotions happen whatever they are.
2 Once you have this potential in mind make a plan with yourself for if it does happen.
For example, my plan for overcoming trigger nightmares includes:
- feel emotions,
- pray, and
- turn soft music on.
If you want to change prayer to something more secular, that’s completely fine. The idea is to make a plan beforehand that gives strategies for self-comfort. If it is a deeper trigger, you may want to have the number of a friend or crisis line on hand.
3 Acknowledge your preparation, this will put you in a positive mindset especially before sleep
Finally, Celebrate any steps forward.
The second last step acknowledges changes before the incident while this last one is part of the debriefing stage. I can’t promise that you won’t be triggered just because you acknowledged and tried to live in acceptance that it might happen. Life is difficult. Sometimes no matter what you do, you’ll get spooked. However, I want you to acknowledge that perhaps you calmed down just a nanosecond quicker than usual and again you came up with strategies this will help you have compassion and move on as best you can.
As I said, I am not an expert, but I hope that these tips help you have compassion for you and potentially bring healing.