Other Mental Illnesses and Disorders

When Family Uses Trigger Words Against You

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Trigger Words – What are they?

Trigger words are words and phrases that cause a listener to feel strong emotions because of previous experiences.

When you hear them, they often cause a rush of emotions to flood your mind and body. These feelings can stay with you for days, and are usually associated with past emotional, physical, or psychological trauma.

The emotions associated with trigger words are hard enough to deal with on their own. When used against you by your family, friends or loved ones, it can be a very crushing experience.

When someone you care about uses something against you to hurt you, it’s hard to comprehend. You often wonder why. Why would someone who is supposed to love and care about you intentionally hurt you? It doesn’t make any sense. Your loved ones are supposed to be there to help and support you, not sabotage you.

Unfortunately, it does happen though. My personal experience is that family can often be harder on you and more critical of you than anyone else. What I haven’t figured out yet is why. It makes no sense to me, and I can’t for the life of me wrap my mind around it.

Especially when they use trigger words that THEY KNOW are going to affect you. To me, it doesn’t matter what the reason is. It is never ok to do that to someone. Ever.

When you know the words that you are saying to someone are going to have a negative emotional impact on someone, it is not ok. It’s manipulative, damaging, and very irresponsible. It’s an extreme way of hurting someone, and there is no excuse for it.


trigger words




Why it happens

Every family dynamic is different, there can be various reasons as to why someone close to you would use trigger words against you. I don’t have all the answers as to why this happens, but I do have a few theories. They’re the only ones that make sense to me.

One theory is self preservation. They have to protect themselves, and their own emotions. Sometimes in order to do this, they have to “throw you under the bus”, or put you down in order to make themselves feel better. Trigger words can also be used against you to manipulate and control you, so you have to be careful.

Another theory is they do this because they just don’t realize the impact these trigger words have on you. Some people, especially those who have never experienced significant trauma, truly don’t understand how severely you can be impacted by events in your life. I believe this happens a lot.

If this happens to you, the most important thing you can do is not to react. Take time to gather yourself, if possible. This can be extremely hard to do, depending on how much the trigger words affect you, and at what stage of your recovery you are in. Practicing mindfulness may help with keeping your emotions at bay until you can process them fully.

I would recommend talking to your counselor about it, and they can give you excellent advice and tips on how to handle this kind of situation.

Honestly, I’m still trying to learn how to handle it myself.

~ Jess


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