Triggers Are Teachers

We are in unprecedented times, with unprecedented triggers. This pandemic provokes pained places in us. Whether we have wounds of worry, helplessness, hopelessness, powerlessness, or loneliness, we are likely feeling those things again and feeling them deeply. 

This pandemic is a Great Tormentor. That’s exactly why it is a Great Opportunity for healing.

Let me explain. 

In IFS, a “tormentor” is defined in this way:

“Tormentor” relates to people who trigger you, they torment you, but they also teach you what you need to heal. It is tor-MENTOR. And this time is tormenting us. Partly because of the anxiety and the loneliness. And it can be a teacher in the sense that it will bring up the parts of us we need to heal. 

So, notice what’s coming up. Usually, in terms of the anxiety, it’s young child-like parts of us that are stuck in scary places in the past when our survival was threatened. It is an opportunity to go to those parts, listen to them, stay separate from them in Self-compassion for those parts, and hold them, as you might a child who was scared. And you’ll find that that can bring a lot of healing.” 
– Dick Schwartz, IFS Founder

Instead of hiding from our hurts, we can learn to hold and to heal them. These efforts are not easy. We may need help. It takes great courage to reunite with the parts of us we’ve lost and forgotten. 

IFS is the best way I’ve learned to follow this inward invitation. It helps me guide my clients safely to parts of them still in pain. 

On these treasure hunts of healing, triggers teach us where to dig next. When we know where to dig, we know where the gold is. And when we find it, those fearful and forgotten parts of us are transformed in our tender, loving embrace. 

May we all find the comfort, compassion, and connection we need in these trying times. 

In care and support,

Forest Benedict, LMFT

*To learn more, I recommend the short interview with Dick Schwartz in An IFS Approach to Fear and Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic. For those in California, I invite you to begin your healing journey with me. I am IFS Level 1 & 2 trained. To find trained and certified IFS practitioners, go here.   

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