Trigger words. They are words that can bring up certain thoughts, feelings, emotions. They are words that can literally trigger a response in you, whether good or bad. It’s how you handle the trigger words that matters because if you let them, they can lead you down a dark road. You need to make the Mindful Unique Decision to not head down that road, but instead stop and take the positive route, the one filled with light and possibilities.
Today I had an experience with trigger words that showed me how strong I am, and I realized I really don’t give myself enough credit. Years ago these words would have been internalized, and used to further a negative response whereas now, I walked away just thinking, “Hmm… that was interesting.”
I was outside this afternoon getting something from my car. A neighbor of mine was outside walking her dog. As I left my car, my neighbor stopped me.
Neighbor: “You’re losing a lot of weight.”
Me: “Um… you think so?”
Neighbor: “Yes. You look good.”
Me: “Um… thanks. Just eating right and exercise.”
Neighbor: “That’s great.”
Me: “Thank you.”
It might just seem like a normal exchange. It might just seem like a friendly compliment, but when you have a history of an eating disorder a conversation like this can trigger something, and years ago it would have.
Years ago, when I was deep in my eating disorder, if someone said to me that it looked like I lost weight I would think, “Awesome! What else can I do? What else can I stop eating to make myself lose more weight? Maybe I should up my exercise more. This is great! See it’s working!” I would literally be ecstatic because someone noticed my weight loss, but the flip side of the coin would be the other thoughts that would come into my head at the same time. Thoughts telling me that no matter what the person said, I’m still too fat. Thoughts that would tell me I still wasn’t good enough. Thoughts that would further the destruction I was doing to myself. Those are the constant battles that go on within your head when you suffer from an eating disorder.
But today, I am stronger. I have come so far. Yes, sometimes I have my days where I struggle. But, there’s more good days than bad. And the conversation that I had with my neighbor didn’t trigger me! Instead, I actually thought it was pretty funny. Here I am now not worrying about weight, not weighing myself. I don’t count calories. I’m just trying to feel good. I’m eating. I’m working out. I’m not restricting or over-exercising… and my neighbor thinks I lost weight????
Don’t get me wrong, for a split second I almost did lapse into my old way of thinking. Don’t forget, these are trigger words and they have the power to do that, but only if you let them have the power. I made the Mindful Unique Decision in that split second to stop myself and not let those thoughts take over, and that’s how I know that I’m making progress.
I look in the mirror and I don’t see what others see. I know that I can’t be trusted with a scale. My body image is warped and I know that. And I think knowing that and acknowledging that is a good first step. Because of this I base a lot of my body image on how I feel, not what I see. I ask myself if I feel good, if I feel happy, do I feel like I have energy, do I feel like I am eating correctly. It’s these types of questions that I ask myself on a daily basis that help me stay on the right path. I need to keep myself accountable.
Here’s the thing. Trigger words can be dangerous, but know what your triggers are so you can plan ahead. Be strong. Make that Mindful Unique Decision to work on stopping the bad thoughts before they can take hold. Focus on the positive and all the progress you are making. And you know what else? Trigger words are just words. They can only trigger you if you give them power. Do not give them power! Empower yourself by staying positive, knowing you are living your best life, and taking joy in the everyday by following the path towards light and possibilities.
Struggling? Need Help? Reach Out To One Of These Resources Below. You Are Not Alone.
NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association):
The Alliance For Eating Disorders Awareness:
Lantern App (Recommended by NEDA):