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We can’t make a case for why you should address old wounds without mentioning a certain word that most of us tend to associate with others rather than ourselves; after all, there’s nothing wrong with us, right? This word is one that we tend to associate with those who have been severely traumatized, and we often shy away from it because we believe it expresses weakness and not the strength we wish to portray. The word is “trigger.”

When you decide not to deal with negative emotions, simple occurrences can often be truly frightening experiences for you. A raised voice, a fist pounding on the table, or a door or window left unlocked overnight can send you or your significant other into a fit of terror or rage, if the trauma of living in fear has not been addressed. A loved one leaving on a business trip or just going to hang out with friends becomes a nightmare when you have not dealt with issues of abandonment and self-worth. Christmas and Thanksgiving—times that should be filled with love and joy—take on the spooky feeling of Halloween, filled with yelling and screaming, because you have not resolved how family addictions ruined your childhood holidays. So you repeat the chaos of the past, and you don’t know why. Your insecurities have kept those who choose to remain with you in a self-imposed prison, where you subject them to all kinds of tests to prove their love, and no one knows the answers but you. You keep those who refuse to deal with your triggered behavior isolated from your love, which causes all parties nothing but pain.

Watching a dog chase its tail may bring a few moments of laughter initially, but after a while even the dog knows he is getting nowhere. If you are constantly overreacting to things and using a bazooka to kill a fly when a simple swatter would be sufficient, it’s time to start taking responsibility and deal with your past so that you can finally take your finger off that trigger.