Most people identify with negative triggers, but did you know there are positive triggers too?. That’s right..! Positive triggers.
If all your focus is on the negative, you’ll find yourself feeling depressed pretty quickly. Why? Because your conscious and subconscious are only focusing on what you need to fix. God did not design us to exclusively work on our problems and not pay attention to the things that make us come alive. To find a healthy balance, you have to make sure you focus some energy in both places.
To become intentional about positive triggers, you must first know what they are and how to find them. The triggers you’re looking for are anything that generates positive emotions. Just like negative triggers can represent something from your past and cause pain, positive triggers can also be connected to your past. It may be something small that feels nostalgic, a location that helps you connect with God, or even smell that brings you back to your childhood. There are a few things that will start to happen when you become aware of what sparks happiness, love, or a time of connection.
It helps resurface positive memories
For example, one of my positive triggers is old wood. Some of my favorite memories growing up involved old wood. My grandpa has a farm in Illinois that we visited at least once a year. The farm was where my inner man could come alive. We would explore the barns and build things with bails of hay. Even writing this post is bringing back the great emotions connected to my experiences then. Because wood is what draws me back to those great memories as a child, I make sure to intentionally involve it in my life on a regular basis. I follow several carpenters on Instagram and carve out time on my weekends to do wood related projects.
Some people may say ‘I can’t think of any positive memories growing up.’ Or ‘I just don’t remember much of my childhood until I was a teenager.’ If that’s you then it’s vital that you begin to explore positive triggers. Why? Because pain is blocking your ability to identify the good memories. Don’t think of it as an exercise to make something up that wasn’t there. Simply begin to notice what are the things that currently trigger positive emotions. Then pause, ask yourself when and where did I first feel this? Over time you’ll begin to connect with positive memories that are a part of the past that you’ve buried. It doesn’t matter how crappy your life was as a child, there were moments that you were happy. Find these memories and begin to use them as fuel to explore the painful side as well.
Warning: This is not permission to live in the past. The goal is to flush out positive emotions that were created to help you connect with them in your world today.
It changes the way you see life.
Let’s say that a hot cup of coffee/tea or apple cider creates a feeling of happiness for you. You can’t help but feel positive in that moment regardless of what’s going on in your world. Research conducted by The University of Colorado Psychologist, Lawrence Williams, suggests that you’ve tapped into a positive trigger. His research shows the ripple effect of integrating positive emotions into your life. Williams handed volunteers either a hot cup of coffee or a cold drink, asked them to read a short description of a stranger, and then asked them to rate the stranger’s personality. The volunteers who had been warmed up by the coffee thought that the stranger seemed much friendlier than those who had been clutching iced drinks.
Identifying what your positive triggers are is the first step. You can ask yourself questions like, “What were some of my best memories growing up?” Take note of your response and begin to integrate them into your process. You’ll become more self-aware as you learn how to connect with and identify a trigger. After identifying your positive triggers, it will make the next step of intentional integration a lot easier.
The goal is to integrate these things into your life so that your day-to-day life is surrounded by positive triggers, not just negative ones. God wants you to feel ALIVE in the midst of process! By intentionally surrounding yourself with positive triggers, you are being proactive and taking control of where you’re investing your emotional energy. To feel one and not the other, you’re ripping yourself off. By being willing to embrace both sides, the positive and negative, you’re opening up your heart to a well-balanced healing.
Take time this week to write down a list of activities, smells, or locations that create the emotions we’ve talked about. Once you have your list, make it a point to do at least one thing this week that will cause you to engage with what you’ve written down. The goal is to integrate them into your everyday life but to start with, set a goal to intentionally expose yourself to a positive trigger once a week. It’s just like any other ‘muscle’ the more you use it the stronger it gets. Over time you will identify more and more things that cause you to have positive triggers.