Triggers happen to all of us. Especially after experiencing a life-changing situation of betrayal and the trauma that comes with it. What are the best ways to handle triggers? What are the best questions to ask ourselves as we move through the stages of grief and healing? What should we avoid?

Kathy Kinghorn, LCSW, SAP, and CSAT supervisor, specializes in helping those addictive behaviors and significant others who have experienced the abuse and trauma from another’s addiction. She gives some great tips for handling triggers,

“Having a plan in place beforehand for handling triggers is so important. It will become second nature after enough practice, but at first it can be difficult learn how to handle those triggers when they happen.”

3 Tips For Handling Triggers

  1. Asking “How” Questions
  2. Asking “What” Questions
  3. Avoid Asking “Why” Questions

Safe questions are those that involve asking “How” or “What.” For example when experiencing a trigger, asking yourself what you can do to handle it and remind yourself how you will do it. This can establish healthy patterns for dealing with triggers in recovery in the future.

Kathy Kinghorn states, “In regards to an addict, how and what questions are indicative of further healing and growth. Why questions indicate he is still in victim mode.”

There are many aspects to healthy recovery, as Kinghorn adds,

“A huge part of recovery involves doing things that feel unsafe, like setting a boundary. Boundaries will feel unsafe to betrayed wives because we may not have incorporated them into our relationship previously. These 3 tips can help us start to do just that.”

Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, states, “When experiencing an abuse episode, asking how or what can be essential in getting through that situation: How am I feeling? What will I do to get to safety?”

How Not To Handle Triggers

Questions that ask “Why” are not useful and usually too deep to handle for both the addict and the betrayed spouse. Kinghorn states, for an addict, specifically,

“If you want to get to the “why” of the addiction, you need to get away from the “want” of the addiction.”

For a betrayed wife, Asking “Why” questions can feel like a personal attack on ourselves. These types of questions are not helpful in the aftermath of betrayal trauma.

Anne, adds, “We should avoid asking “Why” questions when it comes to our husbands behaviors and abuse, because the answers are just not helpful. The focus needs to be on safety first and foremost. Asking ‘why’ questions can lead to self-blame and victimization.”

Triggers Are Ours To Manage

Here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we have many great resources for handling triggers in the aftermath of betrayal. Check out our Individual Sessions Page, specifically Understanding and Handling Triggers session may be helpful for you. Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is a fantastic place for healing and growth. Connect with other women and receive phenomenal individual coaching and feedback.

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Until next week, stay safe out there.

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