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Emotional triggers, feeling unlovable and how to reset the mind

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

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Repressed trauma is a funny one. We never know when it’s going to rear its not so welcome head.

It’s always when you least expect it, and at the worst possible moment. 😬

A few weeks ago I got triggered. An experience touched off an immediate emotional reaction. A reaction that was exaggerated and not entirely in my control.

Everything froze, I went into survival mode, and my instinct was to get out of dodge. But I was not in a position to leave. 🙈 I had to face that reaction right there & then.

I didn’t get to run away. (← Best thing that could have happened.)

  • I showed up for myself.

  • I took responsibility for my reaction.

  • I spent 6 hours straight listening to late 90s / early 00s HipHop.

  • I went deeper and dealt with the issue.

When it’s all you know, staying out of a negative mindset is hard. But not impossible.

Feelings are reactions to facts. But they aren’t your identity.

And being triggered does not call into question the work you have already done. It’s a chance to go deeper and to move forward. Whilst I’d addressed issues around self-esteem & confidence, I still had work to do in terms of self-blame and the big one, trust. 😅

I could tell you more about the girl who was brought up to believe that she was unlovable, and would never be successful, but not being the best, or worse, failure, was unacceptable. But she no longer exists.

So enough about me, and more about emotional triggers, feeling unlovable and how to reset the mind ↓

What it means to feel unlovable

If you fear being unlovable, or unloved, you feel that you are unworthy of love. This could be for a myriad of reasons but it generally goes back to our childhood experiences.

We often hear this: we must first love ourself before we can either give or receive love. Sounds logical. It's also true. However, if your parents or primary caregivers didn’t teach you that you can love yourself, where do you start? How do you build the tool set you need to get to that place?

With parents or primary caregivers that are emotionally unreliable, hypercritical, or do not love themselves, a child learns that relationships are unstable and dangerous, and that trust is ephemeral and can't be relied on.

How you relate to others and yourself becomes complicated. You are unsure of how to present yourself, how to react in certain situations and you may have boundary issues. You might feel that you are fundamentally bad and that it’s impossible for another person to love you.

If you always tried to be kind and well-behaved to keep your parents from being angry, you may have grown into a people-pleaser who tends to feel anxious and worried about other people’s feelings.

In addition, you may have trouble expressing your feelings and needs in a relationship. You may also go as far as to make yourself unlovable because that’s what you know in a relationship. It’s all you know how to be.

When it’s all you know, getting out and staying out of this kind of mindset is hard. But it’s not impossible. And as you travel down the road to self-love, and to some extent, freedom, there are some core issues you will need to address:

  • self-esteem

  • confidence

  • self-blame

  • trust

And even when you’ve addressed these issues, things can happen to trigger your mind back into that negative mindset, making you forget.

Repressed trauma

Repressed trauma is a funny one. We never know when it’s going to rear its little head. It’s always when you least expect it. And clearly never when you are ready for it.

If we impede our minds and bodies from processing our trauma, not only will it come back to get us later, it might be worse.

Our feelings are reactions to facts, but they do not define us. Repressed traumatic memories from childhood or adulthood should be set free. Holding them in will not only create psychological stress, but physical stress too. You are your own temple, after all.

What are emotional triggers?

An emotional trigger is any word, person, event, or experience that touches off an immediate emotional reaction, both positive and negative. Our reaction to a negative emotional trigger is usually excessive and exaggerated. And sometimes out of our control. But, once recognized, we can get to work.

Realizing that you’ve been triggered is the moment you take control and get to move forward. Changing any cycle takes work. And getting to the root of the issue does too.

In the past, things have happened that have harmed us. We put them aside, telling ourselves it’s OK to move forward. We go straight to acceptance without processing what happened. We do not allow ourselves to feel the depth of our pain. Then something occurs, and it triggers off a chain of events. Life as you know it implodes, even just a little ..

Being triggered does not call into question the work you have already done. It’s merely the chance to go deeper and to move forward.

Don’t skip to the part where everything seems better

Unfortunately, even if you’ve worked on an issue, a situation can trigger your mind right back to where you started. And even though all is not lost, you still have some work to do.

Making the mindset shift

There are a million different ways of addressing emotional issues. Undergoing counseling or therapy is an important first option for anyone, and should strongly be considered. But it’s not for everyone. Here’s a mix of what works for me and what I feel is a good place to start (in no particular order).

How to reset your mindset after an emotional trigger:

  1. Look after yourself check in on your nutrition & exercise to make sure you’re giving your mind and body what it needs to recover.

  2. Acknowledge the problem Own it - don’t just accept it. Identify the reasons you feel this way, look for their origin.

  3. Everyone deserves love, no matter who they are. Understand & integrate this into your everyday thinking.

  4. Get to know the real you. Accept your failures, grieve them, take responsibility. Understand that your flaws or failures do not define you.

  5. Do more of the things you love This will help you to start accepting and loving yourself. It’s also important to stop doing things that others love just so that they love you.

  6. Some people like to self-isolate. Even if this is not your forté, spending time alone is beneficial in nearly every critical situation.

  7. Dispense of your anxiety via creative activities. Personally, I write the hell out of it. Everything I am thinking that is related to what I am going through, I write down. I then edit and re-work the text until all that remains are a few lines or paragraphs that are succinct and to the point, but make sense. The “clutter” has been removed, both figuratively and literally.

  8. Remember that the people that are in your life are there because they want to be. Spend time with those that love you unconditionally. Appreciate them and shower them with the love that you have to give. It will make you feel good, and comfortable within yourself again.

  9. Don’t let your mind trick you into thinking negatively of yourself because of someone else’s actions. Destroy these irrational beliefs with rational questions: what I’m feeling is real? Am I just assuming something? Give yourself a reality check.

  10. Get the sage out. Many are skeptical, but a quick energy cleansing ceremony at home (or in the car 🤦🏼‍♀️ don’t ask) can do wonders for your mind and spirit in times of need.

  11. Practice gratitude Appreciate everything you have and those around you.

  12. Seek Counselling

The all important conclusion

Feelings are reactions to facts but they do not define you unless you allow them to. If you find yourself in a position where you are uncomfortable about your reaction, or you don’t feel emotionally “safe”, it’s OK. And you will get through it.

True love is never earned. It just exists and is nurtured by acts of love. Being loved isn’t about how perfect you are, it’s about someone knowing your perfections and imperfections and loving you anyway. It’s about receiving compassion even when you’re depressed, anxious, overreacting, and overthinking. It’s about someone sticking by your side even when things get hard.

Embrace your complexity. Use it to your advantage. To flourish. To be the person you are. To take the space that you need. Anyone that can’t see how beautiful that is, is just not able to embrace his or her own self.

✨ Alone we can make a difference, together we can rock the world. ✨

Life is a story. What does yours say?

Share your journey, you might just help someone find their way.


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