On Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces, and Finding a Home in Yourself

When all you do is remove triggers from your environment, you don’t grow.

I appreciate the sentiment behind a trigger warning. I personally have a number of triggers that can send me to an entirely different mental reality, totally derailing my day, week, month…

I understand that there are some people who are in the most acute stages of healing, and don’t want to spiral back down just as they’ve begun to climb out.

The trouble that I have with it all, though, is that being triggered and then finding ways to come back to yourself, IS the work. It’s akin to exercising a muscle.

So, to remove all triggers is like never going to the gym because the weights are too heavy.

Now, some are incapable of weight lifting at this time, and need to find ways to heal. Understood. A person may need a period of time in which the thing that triggers them simply is not present, so that they can come back to themselves. I have been there.

But this incessant focus on warning people they may need to carry a heavy load… it creates trouble for us. It makes us expect things of life that are impossible.

Life doesn’t give trigger warnings, and safe spaces… external safe spaces… are temporary.

We MUST create internal safe spaces, too. WE must become our own home. From there, the world may trigger us, but we carry our homes within us and therefore have a place to go, so that we may come back out and face the world.

Have your “safe spaces” and utilize them well, but don’t let them become some illusory expectation for how the world will show up for you, because inevitably, it won’t. Will you have your home ready to receive you? Or have you been avoiding its creation by focusing too greatly on external safety?

As for me, I vacillate between the two. I work on the home, get re-triggered, forget the home exists, and begin searching for external safety. Then, I get reminded about the home I worked so hard on, and find ways back to it. I typically can’t do this alone, nor do I believe (anymore) that I “should” be able to.

With every repetition of this, it gets more familiar. Coming home becomes easier, and the external loses the value that once seemed so inherent and desirable.

If not for the repetition, the muscle wouldn’t grow.

So, while I am never thankful -in the moment- to be pulled into an alternate mental reality that derails my day and curtails my contentment, I can be thankful for it in retrospect.

I can recognize that life is showing me the things I need to see in order to more gracefully travel back home to myself.

Of course, that’s merely a choice, not the truth. It is a choice, however, that needs to be exercised.

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Michelle Akin

Writer | Singer | Mom | Coach xYouTuber/Comedian/Video Producer/Minor Internet Personality