I wanted to talk about triggers. A definition of ‘trigger’ is “an event that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation” – so flipping it back to the primary theme of this Blog I guess we could say;
“I drank the alcohol because I was angry with my wife”
“I had a drink because I was on a night out with my friends and they offered me a shot”
We are triggered by many things in our life and the consequential action will be a variety of things. Road rage springs to mind. You are triggered by another driver doing something which inconveniences or angers you and the resulting action may be swearing, threatening or just taking a deep breath and accepting it is outside of your control circle. There is a moment after the incident where you have a choice about what you are going to do next but would you only call it a trigger if you reacted badly? We don’t say “This guy cut me up on the motorway so it made me take a deep breath and move on. Nobody was hurt.” but we would say “This guy cut me up on the motorway so I beeped my horn and started tailgating him. He made me so angry so he needed to be taught a lesson”
I’ve done both of those by the way.
As a parent I find my plans constantly changing because of my children. In the past I’ve blamed my kids for my actions such as going in a mood, having a drink or arguing with my wife. The frustrations of being a parent was my go to ‘trigger’ for my negative behaviour and decision making but I was in control of every negative behaviour or decision I ever chose to carry out.
What I try to do these days is not look for ‘excuses’ for my own negative behaviour. It’s far too easy to say you were influenced or triggered by something when ultimately you own and decide your own actions.
I’m certainly no Buddha Monk and I still react negatively to things but I’m on a learning journey to reduce the regularity of this and to teach myself to stop and think before I take action which may ultimately on reflection, be the wrong one. It’s not about me thinking I’m better than others but I do think we all have capacity for continued self improvement and owning our rational mind. It’s far too easy to feel sorry for ourselves and take the seemingly easy way out which in the longer term makes life much harder. Drink, drugs, binge eating, violence, gambling. Just a few of the ‘events’ caused by our ‘triggers’.
By taking ownership of my sobriety and refusing to acknowledge triggers as an excuse to drink again I’m able to overcome one of the most common reasons for relapsing. If you ask somebody why they picked up the bottle or drug again there will be a reason. There is a reason for everything in life whether it’s a conscious or subconscious decision but ultimately you have a choice. There will be some of you reading this who disagree with my viewpoint and I respect that. This Blog is an outlet for me to share my thoughts and experiences and I welcome the sharing of others even if it’s completely different to my journey and approach.