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The Truth About Triggers: Their Purpose & Impact on Personality

The term trigger has become more prevalent in everyday language as of late; and while the rise in self-awareness is a giant step towards wholeness, this word itself seems to not be fully understood. In simple terms, triggers are prompts in the mind and emotions, that lead to a response in the brain. The brain then sends messages to the rest of the body ultimately impacting behavior. With that being said, the word we will use going forward is prompt.

Insight. Prompts cause or bring about actions or feelings. It is important to note that some prompts can be required for the present moment while others can be false alarms. We will further discuss those false alarms. When we consider the prompts we experience on a daily basis, they are oftentimes linked to a historical event and are reminders of what may have happened in the past. Not only do we remember in our mind, we also remember in our nervous system, emotions, and body. Memory is so powerful that it can carry a physical presence with it. So, when faced with a false alarm prompt, one can revert back to the very moment of a traumatic event; having the same emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

Personality. If one remains in a state of shock or trauma for an extended period of time, the patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior associated with that event can take shape as personality. Personality includes the characteristics, mannerisms, mindset, core values, and behavior of a person. It is not the physical body but the inner being; this lends understanding to the occurrence of one experiencing emotions and physical responses to an event outside of the present moment. The physical body is not necessarily reacting to a current event but a perceived or past event being played out inside of the body (again, in the inner being).

Many may say, “this is just the way I am.” And the truth is, this is how they have become based on circumstances faced in life. If left unchecked, trauma can reshape the mind, and harden the heart placing a shell around the core being. It’s amazing that the core-self doesn’t change but it can be covered by hardship.

Purpose. So, what is the purpose of a prompt? Prompts can be seen as symptoms of an underlying wound. They have the power to lead one to hurts that haven’t healed (but are fully capable of recovery). One isn’t supposed to stop at prompts and do their best to avoid them. Using prompts as signals for healing is what eradicates prompts altogether. Similar to the skin bleeding, prompts are the inner-being’s way of letting the mind know that something is hurting. And there is power in knowing and acknowledging what hurts; in this, healing is made possible.


Pay attention to what you consider as prompts. Make a list of them at your level of comfort.

Ask the following questions:

What is the origin of this prompt?

Have the responses to this prompt become part of my personality?

What does healing look like in this area?

Do I desire healing in this area?

What is the path to healing?

Remember to journal your experience.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


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