Reframing the Word "Trigger" with a New Language and Perspective

Personal Growth -

Reframing the Word "Trigger" with a New Language and Perspective


This word can bring up powerful emotions in each of us. I make an effort to avoid using it in my practice because there are so many layers, misconceptions, and different types of triggers. It seems impossible to use without preconceived notions clouding how we frame the event, situation, or reason we feel triggered.

Changing Our Language

While doing some research, I stumbled upon the Tibetan word for trigger, “Shenpa.” The translation often appears as “attachment,” but “hook” is a more appropriate definition.

I have found that swapping the word trigger for hook can help remove guilt or responsibility from the person feeling triggered. Thinking of triggers as hooks or attachments allows you to step back and see that, while the past cannot be changed, you are in control of the present. You have complete autonomy to make new choices. However, these hooks and attachments are influencing you and may make those choices harder to embrace.

We need to change the way we speak and think about what hooks us.

Discovering A New Perspective

At the root of your reaction is an experience. You are not overreacting. There is a reason you feel a certain way when certain events happen. That word is spoken, you see that person, or you step into that place. Some type of trauma happened to you that caused you to need to build caution signs that would protect you or keep you safe. Those caution signs that you built still exist in your brain and body today because they were necessary to keep you safe. Appreciate the good that has come from them and thank them, but if you are ready, part of the healing process is acknowledging that you do not need these warning signs anymore.

The reason you are hooked in the first place is because your brain and body have not fully processed your experience. The good news is that that means that these traumatic memories that are attaching you and hooking you to your past experiences are not a permanent sentence. EMDR is a type of therapy that helps you process these past experiences so that you become “unhooked.” By reprocessing the trauma through EMDR, you are able to begin doing the work to transform and heal.

Unhook and Heal from Trauma

Navigating your emotions can be challenging, but shifting your perspective and the language you use to describe them can make the process easier and more productive. Today, know that you not only have the power to change and heal, you also have the power to shape the language you use to express your journey. If you have any questions about triggers or EMDR therapy, feel free to reach out and connect with me.

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