Creating Positive Triggers

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!

51 thoughts on “Creating Positive Triggers

  1. Billy says:

    Indeed why not. The only problem there is constancy… interesting though. It’s easier for me to replace negative associations with actual positive thoughts about actual positive stuff. But I love the idea of ruling your own mind 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bipolarbrainiac says:

    HmmmmI have notes and notes chronicling my issues, interestingly none of them are bipolar except for the article I wrote for International Bipolar Foundation. I post those on my site. So I know that when I have an argument with Dad, or he says I’m heavy, I actually have a depressive episode. I don’t go to dept stores because of the trigger factors.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anthony Deakin says:

    Sounds like something worth trying – I have one particular trigger that is prominent lately, I’ll try it with that.


  4. Lulu says:

    It’s hard with people: you may associate them with good and bad triggers at the same time. I notice, though, I have a propency to keep the best in mind about them, or, if they really hurt me, get them out of my head.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. dougmb says:

    So the idea is to force yourself into changing some negative trigger into a positive one? Seems dicey IMO, since my negative triggers leave me feeling very bad or even close to paralyzed with fear. Can’t hurt to try I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bylaurenhayley says:

      I don’t expect it to be easy. But yes. I guess when you’re scared try and think of something positive instead. And hopefully, after a few times, you should start thinking of the positives before the negatives!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. dougmb says:

    So the idea is to replace some negative with a positive? Could be tricky for me; most of my negatives leave me feeling very bad or paralyzed with fear. Worth a try I suppose though.


  7. jennymarie4 says:

    It’s definitely worth a try! I’m all for anything that would spark a smile or positive thought 🙂 I’ll have to think about what that would be for me. Small, happy reminders are a great idea to get you through the day.


  8. f00df0rthought says:

    This is a really good idea and I’m going to try it, thank you! The amount of things that give me negative triggers is almost endless. On a similar note, I’ve been having cold showers recently, and im seeing all types of benefits including being able to talk myself out of panic attacks easier, or out of an overwhelming emotion, and I’m able to think more clearly. I think it’s the act of disciplining yourself – it is certainly a discipline to take a cold shower and I think retraining your brain is along the same lines. Maybe add cold showers to the mix! Anna x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Leslie says:

    This is a great idea! Saturday morning I was having a terrible time…crying and just miserable. But I absolutely had to go to the grocery store. I dragged myself through the whole ordeal and then stopped at the vet for insulin syringes for our cat. I left the vet feeling wonderful and I could not figure it out. When I told my therapist about it she had me replay the whole thing at the vet. There was a puppy there. Very little, probably 8 weeks or so. THAT is what lightened my mood. So, I think the goal here is to try to think of that puppy whenever I hit a red light (for instance). This is not a trigger for me, but, if I think of the puppy, then, I think, the theory is that I could train myself to feel great every time I get to a red light (like she did with the hoodie).


    • bylaurenhayley says:

      There you are! It’s working without you even realising it! This is fantastic. It’s great that you were will to push on regardless, but I’m glad the puppy brightened up your day. I’m the puppy would have done the same to mine as well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. bipolarsojourner says:

    excellent realizations! triggers are nothing more that indicators, mostly of some impending doom at some level. it’s our reaction to the trigger that makes the difference.

    too often, we put our hand over the proverbial hot burner, feel the warm and more or hand even closer. that’s and example of a negative trigger. but we can also put our hand over the proverbial hot burn and do the safe thing and pull back. that would be an example of a positive trigger. here’s to not burning our hand anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. lifeofmiblog says:

    This reminds me of the girl I was in the psych ward with, when she start down the wrong path she would just say “bananas”…it always made her laugh. Tried it for myself but didn’t work! I suspect that is probably more about me though than anything else.


      • lifeofmiblog says:

        Yeah, she was so funny. She was the other person in the group who use to like being in a bad place and couldn’t break the cycle, then one day along came this banana thing and she completely changed….a few days later she went home!


      • lifeofmiblog says:

        I still remember the day she went home, I’d been in the ward for two weeks and she came in the day after me, she was going home and I was getting worse. I was sitting down stairs in the coffee shop bawling my eyes out and she came down to say goodbye…she tried to console me by saying that one day it would happen for me too…it never did, I just had to take more drugs!


  12. dannykoch3 says:

    I’ve always felt so objective and hollowed by any sort of therapy aimed at behavioral change like this. It kind of takes the emotion out of you. I think turning a concrete process into one that is associated with these positive thoughts can make it more subjective in a very positive way. I think we forget to think of those good memories and thoughts far too often anyways. Really awesome thinking 🙂


  13. edennomore says:

    It looks like this is something I’m going to have to look up myself. It seems like there are so many triggers lately, and I’m positively exhausted by trying to work around all of them. It’s been challenging. At this point, I’m ready to give anything a try. Thanks so much for sharing this!


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