Creating positive triggers is a new concept to me, but it’s something I’m definitely willing to try.
Those of us with anxiety have negative triggers all around us. We associate bad things with ordinary objects or locations, because in the past, being around their object or in that location has made us panic.
I have many of these negative triggers: trains, buses, elevators, multi-storey buildings, pedestrian crossings, automatic doors – shall we go on? And usually, they prevent me from doing the things I want to do. I’m restricted to certain places, and I take random detours to avoid my triggers.
But what if we can turn a bad trigger into a good one?
What if we can condition ourselves to not think of something bad when we look at what scares us, but instead think of something good?
Wouldn’t that be fantastic?
I recently met a woman who puts this theory into practice, both with things that scare her and just for random points throughout the day to make life more enjoyable.
To name just a couple, she associates hooded sweatshirts with happiness and pedestrian crossings with laughter.
Pedestrian crossings used to scare her, so this positive trigger in replacement of the previous negative one allows her to use them without being afraid. Instead, she now thinks of something in her life that really made her laugh.
Hooded sweatshirts may not have made her scared, but now whenever she sees them in the street she remembers her positive trigger and smiles; just as a little uplift during the day.
I’m sure it’s one of those things that you have to do over and over again to get any sort of effect from it, so that your brain has time to re-condition itself to your new beliefs about the object or place.
But if it works, it’s so worth it. I’m a little sceptical – it does sound a little bit out there – but surely it’s worth a shot!