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  • David A. Case

The Power of a Trigger is Me


People often use triggers as an excuse. “I couldn’t help myself! Do you know what happened to me?”

The problem with that concept is that triggers have no power unless there is something there to trigger. There must be a point of woundedness or fear or bitterness inside the person who is being triggered for the trigger to have any impact.

Yes. Triggers are real. Yes. It is an effective strategy for a person to manage exposure to triggers during the early stages of fighting through addiction or dysfunction—during the season where the stuff on the inside has not yet changed. But it is impossible to control life circumstances to the point that no triggers will come. What is possible is to move toward an overcoming lifestyle.

The kind of growth that can overcome the hot spots of life does not come quickly or easily. The deepest places of pain are usually tied to our very reason for being. Every person has a purpose. We have a deep set of values inside of us that line up with who God has created us to be. When life tells us that we are failing in our place of purpose, it is painful. Deeply painful.

Triggers are those things that mock us in our area of purpose. The compassion person will feel like a failure when the people in his world are in emotional distress, and he is not able to bring comfort. The servant will feel like a failure when his efforts are not enough to fix the problem. The teacher will struggle with his own lack of understanding or his inability to help others understand.

When life tells us that we have failed in our purpose, it is painful. Triggers can take the form of a specific set of words or actions. It can be a smell from a previous incident or even something like the weather. When we subconsciously connect something or many somethings from the past that have been painful to a current situation, it is a trigger.

The key word is subconscious. As long as a trigger stays at a subconscious level, we have little or no power over it. Fear is present. Maybe even depression or deep anxiety and there seems to be no reason for it. Life is happening in a negative way and there seems to be little explanation for the confusion or pain.

By learning to see what is happening at the spirit level, we can unmask much of this confusion. This starts with a question: What is the spiritual response that is being triggered? Is the response fear or self hatred? Is it anger or bitterness? Each response is tied to a core value that drives that response. The same event will generally produce a different response in every person involved in that event.

The person who has self hatred triggered in him, is created to be more of a servant who is willing to sacrifice for others. The one who struggles with fear is a vision person who wants to be able to plan for positive outcomes. The one with an anger response loves to generate passion for what is right and true. The same event can and will trigger all of these responses. Different stuff on the inside. Different responses.

The key to overcoming triggers is to recognize what is being triggered and how it is being triggered. What is being triggered is almost always tied to the deeper core values of the person. The greatest pain comes when we believe a life event is telling us that we have failed in our area of purpose. When that happens, we often receive it as a message from life that we are losers.

A powerful tool to overcome negative hit is to speak out loud to the trigger that is in the process of setting us off. When we hear ourselves speak, it changes the spiritual flow inside of us and gives us the chance to defeat the trigger. Generally, the best words to speak are something like, “I refuse to respond in anger (or self hatred, or fear, or …). I was created to be a person of positive passion, not destructive emotions.”

By declaring who God created us to be, we exercise the choice to rule over the trigger that would try to make us respond in a negative way. When we give in to triggers, we demonstrate to the world and even to ourselves that we are a failure. God didn’t create us to fail but to overcome. Declaring His purpose over our lives is a powerful exercise of faith that will defeat the power of triggers.

It is not easy. It doesn’t end in a moment. In fact, because the values are so deeply etched within us, the battle will likely continue the rest of our lives. But the more we defeat the triggers, the easier it gets. As time goes on, we develop the ability to defeat the most difficult things life can throw our way.

The power of a trigger is me. It is not outside of me. It is in me. It is me. When I learn that, I have the power to speak in a way that I can win. I can live an overcoming lifestyle. When triggers are no longer an excuse, I can choose to win!


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