What to Do When You’re Triggered?

Earlier in the week, a series of events unfolded in a group, the details of which are irrelevant. The outcome is where I’m focusing today. As people interacted, the scene became more and more like ones I went through very frequently when the organization I was working for was undergoing a crisis. And it was hard on the participants.

Even good teams have trouble putting everything together correctly sometimes. Photo:  @Nodar77 via Twenty20

I needed to provide input, redirect the conversation, or in some way diffuse the situation, but I could not. I mentally froze up, as I retreated into a way of feeling and acting from over a decade ago. I didn’t get memory flashbacks, but my emotions went into overdrive and I could FEEL the atmosphere at my old job when volunteers I directed and others at the organization were engaged in unpleasant and unproductive exchanges.

I was triggered, I guess. My current set of coping mechanisms helped me, at least a little. I didn’t burst into tears or run out of the room, like I might have over a decade ago. Instead, I played a word game on my phone, since all my life I’ve coped with being overwhelmed by doing something with my hands (hence all that knitting and playing of Bejeweled). I find that when a good chunk of my brain is busy on a soothing task, I can make better use of the rest of the ole noggin.

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