How to Stop Triggering Yourself.
I was reading old journal entries from when I was first starting my journey. One thing I was really struggling with was this STRONG urge to eat after work, even if I wasn’t hungry. The only thing that could postpone this feeling was to have a glass of wine or two and relax. But as soon as that buzz started going away... it was back to food.
At this point I hadn't binged in months, and was supposed to be eating intuitively, listening to my body, and be "cured" of binging. I was able to succeed on my days off, but work days? Forget it.
I brought this up to my therapist and she said something I’ll never forget.
"Are you winding yourself up?"
AKA - Are you working yourself up mentally, taxing all your energy, putting emotions into things that don’t matter?
She went on to explain that on the days I worked I was spending my entire day triggering myself. So when I got home, I needed a release. Plus, I was still using food as a coping mechanism.
SO, there were three parts to my struggle:
1) Winding myself up all day at work; letting stressors build and trigger me.
2) Using food as a coping mechanism to relax
3) Feeling shame that I still resorted to food as a coping mechanism
I realized I HAD to stop triggering myself in order to be successful. But to do that, I had to become aware of the ways I was being triggered.
-I would wake up and allow negative self-talk start the minute I saw the mirror.
-I would not allow myself enough time to settle into my morning and get grounded.
-I didn’t really like my job, so I would AGONIZE over it and commit so much emotional energy to it.
-I would be on social media all day looking at triggering accounts when I was already in a fragile state.
-I gave myself rules that I shouldn't eat "so late" (I got home around 8pm) and then felt shame around wanting to break the rule.
HERE IS THE KEY: I had to stop triggering myself from the minute I woke up. I created a short morning routine and started waking up 15 minutes earlier to ground myself. I stopped going straight to the mirror to "body check". If negative talk started, I literally said out loud "STOP!" and would replace that thought with something kinder. I completely removed those morning triggers.
I technically couldn't quit my job, so for that trigger I had to change my perspective. I started to become aware of the positive things: Gratitude I even had a job, the people I work with and my managers were actually pretty cool, if I applied myself I actually learned a lot of new things everyday.
I removed all toxic social media accounts and started following people that inspired me. I found new coping mechanisms for my day like going on a walk, deep breathing exercises, journaling, stretching, getting outside in nature, etc. I let go of the "I can't eat late at night" rule. I allowed myself to eat when I got home and through that allowance, the shame went away. I realized EVERYONE uses food as a coping mechanism sometimes and that is perfectly OK.
This was not an overnight process. It took a lot of journaling, awareness, and trial and error. But mostly, it took ACTION.
If this resonated with you, just know that you have the ability to either remove the trigger completely or change your perspective on it. The more we allow stressors in our life to build up, the more we need a release from them, which often is food.
Take some time to journal your thoughts after reading this: What are all the ways you're being triggered? Are you causing any of them? What triggers can be removed? How can you change your perspective on the triggers that can't be removed? What are actionable steps you can take today? What are rules you can let go of? Where do you feel shame that is not necessary?