Personality Types And Trigger Warnings – Part 1 | Podcast 0452

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In this podcast Joel and Antonia talk about triggers and how we can use them for personal growth.


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  • Josette

    I do think there is external work to do. Most triggers come from other people so the external gives us information. I also think the external can heal. For instance, if you don’t feel heard and have triggers around emotional expression, working with a therapist who holds space for that (versus the triggering environment that shuts it down) can help you feel safe sharing and seeking out safe people instead of shutting down with others. I think awareness comes from within. A trigger happens from outside of us then we have to be able to go within to have awareness. People who are afraid to do internal work are quite immature in conflict because they place blame externally. …and there are people who disproportionately blame themselves. I think the enneagram sheds light on how we handle awareness and our super ego v ego more than MBTI.

    In the Chris Rock Will Smith incident, I think it’s best to look at our reactions in a neutral veil. Whether we thought Will overreacted or Chris was too mean, it’s just information about what we value. When we know what we value, we can seek a life that meets those needs instead of telling people with different values that they should or shouldn’t make life easy for us. Basically become empowered and live consciously by creating the life you want instead of fighting with the life you don’t want.

  • Korina

    I would like to propose some language that makes a clearer distinction than the word “trigger” can currently handle, I think. First, we can refer to a “trigger” as a visceral reaction to the kind of trauma you talked about in your episode which is a physiological response to real or perceived danger, AKA a trauma response of PTSD.

    Then, there’s a word that I have adopted, of which the definition matches the type of “triggers” you focused on in this episode. That word is “bristled”. I have been using this word with my therapist a lot to describe when I have a reaction to something someone said or did that may or may not be a rational response. Being bristled can be because of a conflicting opinion or when someone behaves in a way that brings up past negative experiences for me (which could have been traumatic in a very real sense, but not necessarily traumatic enough to qualify a PTSD response). I like this word too because I think it owns up to the fact that this is a response that we are having, not that someone else *caused*.

    I would like to make a third very important distinction on the word “trigger”, and that is a what I would instead call “boundaries”. Sometimes when we are triggered it is a very real and necessary defense mechanism to protect us from physical, emotional, or psychological damage. Antonia, you mentioned that sometimes people get very triggered when they are approached, romantically speaking. There was a time in my life between the ages of 12-20 that I was sexually harassed or assaulted on a fairly regular basis. A few years into that period, I became the person who was immediately “triggered” when approached by a man. But that response, me setting boundaries instead of being polite or nice, truly protected me from further harassment on multiple occasions. And I still to this day believe my safety and peace of mind is and was more important than someone else’s experience of rejection (and I would also argue that many people need to address THEIR triggers (or bristled-ness) surrounding not being able to handle rejection, which unfortunately sometimes results in actual physical/sexual trauma against the person who rejected them).

    I also think we should be aware of the fact that what can look like, to someone who is part of the current hegemony, someone in a marginalized group being “triggered” is also a very reasonable and necessary boundary. Hateful and racist/sexist/ableist/homophobic/etc. behavior is not just hurtful emotionally, but is the result of AND perpetuates societies in which inequality exists, and also contributes to the acceptance of very real violence against marginalized groups. So if we are going to acknowledge that this is a time of healing generational trauma, then we should also acknowledge that part of that healing can mean setting boundaries where we do not let hateful behavior continue to be accepted. Because the reaction to that behavior is not just an individualized responsibility, it’s everyone’s responsibility as a collective society to be “triggered” by it so it stops being normalized.

    • Antonia Dodge

      I would love if you could get everyone to use the word ‘bristle’ instead of trigger. I think that would be awesome.


  • J Robb Wilson

    I can’t say it better; “FAN-F@&$-ing-TASTIC.” Turns out that what’s behind the curtain (a wizard of Oz reference) is profoundly important both intrapersonally and in the big picture.

    Now, onward to the part 2 for INTPs.

    • Antonia Dodge

      Thank you for the feedback! Hope #2 meets expectations. 🙂


  • Beth

    One more thought about how the common everyday usage of the word “trigger” in our culture right now is often inaccurate:

    I just heard someone say, “my husband keeps saying things that really trigger me.”

    When we use “trigger” in a way to accuse or blame the other person, we’re saying something like “YOU made me angry. YOU made me sad. YOU made me feel upset. YOU hurt me.” But of course, that is inaccurate. Really, factually, you said something, and when I heard it, I chose how I would interpret it, I chose how I would feel about it, I chose how much it would matter to me, and I chose how to respond. Sometimes big upset responses are appropriate! And of course it’s appropriate to hold others accountable if they have crossed a line. But the responsibility for my emotions and my reactions lies with me. No one else MAKES me feel something. Others take actions and I create my own responses.

    We use “trigger” as shorthand, but sometimes we fall into this trap of using it to blame others for what is actually in our own court / our own responsibility.

    I say this as someone with some significant trauma history. I know what it’s like to get poked in a sore spot. But it’s up to me what that will mean to me, and how I react in the moment also has a lot to do with how resourced I am at the moment. Well-rested, generally centered and calm, I might say, okay, ouch, reminding me of something painful, but whatever, I am more than this past experience. But if I’m tired, stressed, afraid, whatever, I might get more caught up in my pain, have a harder time remembering that I am more than that, that the pain is not still occurring, that this is today, etc.

    You said that in a future episode you’d talk about common triggers for each of the types. That kind of shorthand works, as in “what are common situations for my type that are going to lead me to have an out of proportion reaction that kind of makes me say, whoa, okay, there’s something deeper here,” that can help us learn more about our shadows.

    But this idea of blaming others for triggering us… that part we need to outgrow. I might hold others for being disrespectful, or for crossing a boundary inappropriately, for doing damage or being abusive. But it’s not accurate to hold others responsible for my own emotional life…

    In great gratitude!! 🙂

    • Antonia Dodge

      Thank for the comments, Beth! Some good thoughts and take-aways.


  • Beth

    Thank you so much, Joel and Antonia! Two thoughts in response:

    First, sometimes when a word like “trigger” takes on so much cultural meaning and baggage — it’s a very heavy word at the moment, it can mean so many different things to different people and in different contexts — I find it really helpful to try to say the same thing, but with different words, just to shake people out of their current mindset and encourage new thinking. For trigger, for me in this podcast it was more like, “times when I’m feeling really upset in a noticeable way in reaction to something, when that seems out of proportion, or maybe out of my regular sense of self control,” then, AHA, time to do some inner work! Another word that strikes me this way is “trauma” — we use that word to mean so many different things. In the podcast, sometimes I was translating that as pain, or as damage… Like when you described going to the gym as intentionally seeking out trauma but for a good reason, I rephrased that as intentionally seeking out strain, tearing my muscles in the right way, so they can grow stronger.

    Second, I’m sure this is obvious to you, but just to share an example. I’ve reached a point now where when I’m “triggered” — upset in a way that feels out of proportion or that has my parts up in a way that feels a little out of my control, I am finally able to say, whoa, okay, deep breath, step back, I clearly have some parts here that are worked up. Where is the sore spot that just got poked? Let me be grateful for the opportunity for growth, and let me be curious and ask, what can I learn here?

    With so much appreciation for all you do!! 🙂

  • Kristine

    FAN-F@&$-ing-TASTIC ???

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