Question. Do you know what your triggers are? Before getting into that, do you know what a trigger is? I'm not trying to patronize you. I get that you understand what the basic concept of one is (something that is prone to irritate you at best, make you pop off at worst). What I mean is do you know where triggers stem from?
If you were to ask a psychologist to break it down for you, they'd probably tell that a trigger is something that is tied to past trauma. When you see, smell, or experience something in real time, it can lead to feelings like sadness, anxiety, or even anger because, whether consciously or subconsciously, it causes you to have flashbacks to when something or one, hurt or offended you.
For the past several months, something that I've been intentional about is deactivating my triggers. And you know what? It has been a total game-changer! Now that I'm able to pinpoint certain actions that totally piss me off (gaslighting, passive aggressiveness, and deflecting are some of my biggest triggers), not only has it helped me to be so much calmer in my day-to-day life, it's also helped me to know how to better handle people in both my personal and professional life. Because once you know where your triggers stem from and you recognize what certain common triggers are, you can stop giving your power away by reacting—or worse, overreacting—to things.
And just how do you train yourself to emotionally detonate certain triggers in your life? The first step is becoming aware of what certain triggers are (such as the list of really popular ones below). The next move is to heal the trauma (i.e., backstory) associated with your triggers. Finally, set firm boundaries with the people in your life who try to trigger—retraumatize—you. Even if that means leaving them completely alone.
What are some of the most common relationship triggers around? Let's name some:
7 Common Emotional Triggers In Relationships
Just about all of us have had someone in our world who was so manipulative that we couldn't help but ask ourselves, "Wait a minute. Am I the one who is crazy here?" They are called gaslighters and they would have it no other way. Their objective is to get you to question your own sanity as it relates to them, even if you have proof and facts to back up your perspective on just how toxic they actually are.
How gaslighters do this is by lying and/or telling you that they didn't say something that you know that they did and/or saying one thing and doing something else (in other words, their words and actions don't add up) and/or insulting you and then complimenting you (they build you up to tear you down) and/or accusing you of things that you know you didn't do.
Basically, they make it their mission to keep you in a state of confusion and uneasiness so that you appear emotionally unstable. The more you question yourself, the more they can take advantage of you. Therein lies their power.
Whew, chile. The love language of a true narcissist is love bombing. At first, they pour it on thick—compliments, gifts, dates, anything that will make you feel totally adored. Although it would be nice if they did that simply because you deserve it (and you do), their ultimate objective is to get you to feel like you need them as a source of love and affection. Then, once your guard is down, the puppet strings begin to come out.
Once you start to show signs of interest in anything or one more than them, they stop complimenting you and start berating you. Now you're the one who is selfish and not worthy of all of the love they are offering, so they pull away, hoping you will feel abandoned and alone.
What the heck does a narcissist (or any other kind of love bomber) get out of doing this? It's a form of "training" you. When you act the way they want you to act, you get rewarded. When you don't, you get criticized; perhaps even ghosted. Ugh. Just ugh.
The silent treatment. Making excuses. Having a selective memory. Making you feel guilty for what they know is their fault. Not keeping their word. Stubbornness. Making simple things complicated. Playing the victim (when they are actually "the offender"). Living by the phrase "hurt people hurt people". These are all telltale signs of a passive aggressive individual. I personally don't know if I detest any trigger more.
A passive aggressive person doesn't like accountability nor do they want to accept responsibility for their own actions. Just recently, I confronted someone about something they did that was dead wrong. Their response was how much stress they were under at the time. We all have things to feel stressed about. It doesn't take away from us needing to follow through on what we said we would do (and at the very least, apologize when we don't).
If you've got folks in your life where you find yourself apologizing for what they did wrong (it happens more than you think), you've got a passive aggressive individual on your hands. No doubt about it.
A healthy relationship—whether it's a romantic, platonic, or even a professional one—is going to celebrate the authenticity of who you are. They are not going to try and change you or get you to question your self-worth and value.
That said, if you're involved with anyone who doesn't make you feel very good about yourself (this includes them avoiding slick statements and backhanded compliments), if they create "rules" for how you are to be in your relationship with them (although you don't get to have any expectations from them at all) and/or if you somehow feel micromanaged all of the time—these are all indications that you are a victim of perspecticide.
It's not that what you are or aren't doing is wrong. It's that you've allowed someone to have so much power over your life that their perspective of you trumps your very own. (Scary, isn't?)
One of my all-time favorite quotes is, "We're all looking for someone whose demons play well with our own." Creepy I know, but basically, it means that sometimes we're in toxic relationships and don't even know it. It's because what we have in common with certain individuals is our weaknesses, not our strengths.
Although this isn't the exact definition of trauma bonding, I personally believe it is a cryptic form of it. So, make sure that you're not connecting with someone simply because you can relate to one another's crap. If that's all you have going on, all you're doing is—as my mother puts it—emotionally throwing-up on each other. And making each other sick in the process.
As far as the clinical definition of trauma bonding, it's when you're caught up in the cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discarding with someone. They build you up, then they make you question your value, and then they discard you like you were nothing without rhyme, reason, or warning. But since the good times were so good, you sometimes let them do this to you on multiple occasions before finally breaking things off.
Why would someone put up with trauma bonding? Because they don't realize that's what's happening to them. But if someone in your life is always making promises they don't keep, if they give you the silent treatment when you displease them, if your friends are constantly telling you that you could do better than the foolishness you're tolerating with an individual and/or if you keep saying you know that you should leave BUT YOU DON'T—these are all signs that point to being in a trauma bond.
The bad times outweigh the good, but you stick around for the next cycle of good times anyway. That is trauma bonding at its finest. And ugliest.
A dismissive person is a disrespectful individual—point blank and period. If I were to think of someone who immediately falls into this category, ghosters would have to be one of them. Other examples include people who don't deal with confrontation well, folks who don't like to express emotion, individuals who choose to multi-task while you are trying to have a serious conversation with them, people who are vague when you ask direct questions—oh and commitment-phobes. Some trigger statements that dismissive people tend to make is "Are you still on that?", "When are you gonna get over it?" or "Just move on."
Personally, I think the most frustrating thing about dismissive people is they treat you and your emotions like they are disposable. Or like you are a human ACT test. I say that because some of you might recall how some preppers told us to take it—Scan, Select, Discard, Move On.
You are not a high school proficiency exam. Don't tolerate anyone treating you as such.
Next to passive aggressiveness, deflecting is one of my other biggest triggers. I used to have a lot of deflectors in my personal space (I nipped that) and I see it quite a bit in marriage life coaching sessions too. It's basically when someone is wrong—dead wrong—but they try and find a way to get your mind off of it, oftentimes by changing the subject, pointing out that you do the same thing, or bringing up what they think is worse.
Example. You might say, "I really hate that you waste my time by always showing up late." A non-deflector would say something like, "I'm sorry. I'll work to get better at that." A deflector? They're gonna say something immature like (cue the nah-nah-nah-nah-nah voice), "You're late sometimes too" or worse, "Well, I hate that you cut me off when I'm talking."
OK. But if you hated whatever it is that I'm doing so much, why are you waiting until I bring up something that irritates me in order to discuss it? A deflector doesn't want to deal with their stuff. And it's really hard to be in a healthy relationship with anyone who refuses to face things head on.
8.LWS: Last Word Syndrome
I used to be this girl and I realize it was because, while growing up, I didn't feel like my voice was heard or respected very much. So, as an adult, I made sure that it would be—no matter how annoying this approach might've been.
About 9.5 times out of 10, a person who suffers from last word syndrome isn't even one-eighth as interested in what you have to say as what they've already said or what they plan on saying next. It's feeling like your insights and perspectives aren't respected or even appreciated that tends to be the source of your frustration while interacting with them. I get it but take it from someone who has gotten fully free from this—people who need to have the last word are insecure; they are still working through how to embrace the internal power that they have, both with and without a sounding board.
One of my favorite proverbs is, "Don't speak unless you can improve upon the silence." It's one of the best ways to handle someone with this particular syndrome. And once you call out all of these triggers—and trigger-ers—it's also one of the best ways to internally detonate how you react in the future to these kinds of people too.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masterdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masterdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masterdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masterdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masterdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masterdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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