Everyone experiences triggers, or what my mentor and expert in EMDR (trauma therapy), Katie O'Shea calls "emotional activators".

For individuals in our Sexual Recovery Oupatient Program, one of the primary things that we teach and review often is how to identify one's triggers.

When someone lapses or relapses we ask, "Why?" followed by, "You want to understand 'why' so you can figure out how to resolve it from triggering you the next time."  This is key to beginning the change process.


According to Dr. Adi Jaffe, "A trigger can be ... anything that brings back thoughts, feelings, and memories that have to do with addiction (like a computer reminding a sex addict of porn)" (psychology today.comblog/all-about-addiction/201003).

To most people, they are not conscious of the specific memory, body trauma, thoughts, and/or feelings that are creating a trigger, or activating discomfort. So most often, the current incident seems to be the actual trigger.

However, when we track back to earlier thoughts, feelings, and memories, most individuals are able to see a current trigger as something related to their past.

People in our lives that we deem as significant are often our biggest triggers. Anyone in our family; mom, dad, siblings, as well as our spouse, children, in-laws, closest friends, co-workers. Even one's therapist because we often present as a canvas in which an individual will transfer either positive or negative feelings and thoughts onto us to work through.

Because most people are not conscious that people are triggers, the therapist and clinical team assists them in identifying the specific triggers being activated and helps them find ways to resolve them effectively instead of projecting onto the clinical team.


The messenger's purpose is to give us information into the parts of ourselves that we have been avoiding. Maybe it is our deepest fear, i.e., that our spouse will leave us.

Or a fear that we are not good enough to be loved. Or maybe we fear that if we are vulnerable we will get hurt.  Most individuals literally replicate their deepest challenges (trust issues, feeling left out, fearing vulnerability and closeness) via the therapeutic experience in order to heal.

Situations arise during individuals processes in recovery that often remind them of their deepest emotional wounds, or as Teal Swan says, "the unhealed parts of our being." Sometimes this is hardest to face.

But the messenger that Teal Swan speaks of is actually a gift. The challenge and opportunity in recovery is to see the gift and open (to) it.

The messenger gives us an opportunity to take our healing to the next level. An opportunity to face those darkest shadows and corners, and evolve to a level of recovery like never before.

It may shake us at our core at first, but once we descend deeper into our unhealed parts, we often realize that the "shaking up"  is an illusion. We are only shaken up if we buy into the old stories; that part that is crying out to be healed.

The goal is to listen to the message and see if you can tap into that part of you that feels really afraid, hurt, rejected, sad, pained. See if you can come to your own aid, or if you are able to reach out to those people you know will be there for you. There are so many of us here for you.

When we are able to take the message to heart and go into those feared places, we recover. WE HEAL.

Change is hard; there is no doubt about it. But it is inevitable and always occurring. It is truly the only constant in our world. Without change, we would still be flailing around in our addictions.

Today, please see if you can really understand what your "messenger" is trying to tell you. What unhealed parts of your being have you been too afraid to explore?

Know that you are never alone. You are surrounded by those who love and care about you, and want you to recover whole-heartedly.

And, as always, without a shadow of a doubt, YOU ARE WORTH IT.