Therapists explain the neuroscience behind emotional over-reactivity.
The term “trigger” has been co-opted by social media and teens to mean having big feelings, but “trigger” is originally an important psychodynamic term related to trauma. In this episode we discuss the neurobiology behind the experience of being triggered.
- The channel is right but the volume it too high. It occurs when we feel something stronger than we can understand. Neurobiologically speaking, we are having an implicit memory (think amygdala-oriented instead of hippocampus-oriented).
- We talk about the different kinds of trauma that can create triggers.
- We discuss implicit versus explicit memory and why it’s good to sort this out in relationships, and how we get in all kinds of trouble misattributing implicit memory to current situations.
- Is it LIVE or is it MEMOREX is an important question for relationships – is my reaction to you in this moment boosted by something that I’m not actually consciously remembering, which would explain why I’m over-reacting a bit? It helps to get curious about that rather than accusatory.
- Investigate feelings with curiosity and care rather than righteously thinking feelings are facts.
- We look at how in a relationship the best approach is when we can step back and notice how our nervous system and the other person’s nervous system are reacting. Then we have the choice to go on the ride with them; get dysregulated or consciously use our more regulated state to gently nudge them back toward regulation.
- Concrete ideas to implement are discussed.
Additional resources for this episode:
- Marco Iacoboni – Mirroring People, The Science of Empathy and How We Connect with Others
- Steven Porges – The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation
- Dan Siegel – The Mindful Brain Reflections on Attunement and the Culture of Well-being
- These and other resources have been collected for you on our Resources page!