5 Journal Prompts for Processing a Trauma Trigger

I’m not sure if the curve balls throw at me in the last 24 hours are irony or coincidence but they are definitely incredible considering what I just wrote about in my piece called Understand Trauma Triggers.

I am a ball of emotional trauma responses right now as I work through the events of the last couple days. Through this process I came up with 5 Journal Prompts to help process a Trauma Trigger as it is happening, when using writing as a tool for focus.

Prompts for Processing a Trauma Trigger

#1 What happened? Review the facts.

This is the part where you write out your detailed timeline and description of the event, or series of events that have caused you to react with a trauma response. Write down who said what, when it happened, anything and everything you can remember.

Use this is a tool for reflection when your mind wonders into negative thinking and self-doubt. Review the facts as often as you need to.

#2 What Am I Feeling?

List them all. It doesn’t matter how many different emotions you are feeling, or how much you think they conflict with each other. Just feel them all and write about it.

#3 What are the negative things this is making me feel about myself?

Living with the reality that present day stresses can trip the wires connected to our past traumas is why we have to learn to recognize and manage trauma triggers. We respond as the traumatized child, not our normal, logical self and that isn’t healthy for us.

So what are you feeling about yourself in this current situation? Are you feeling unloved, devalued, or unworthy? Face those negative thoughts without judgement, write them all down so you can see the connections.

#4 How does this identify with my trauma?

Time for some self reflection: now that you have written about what the situation has made you feel and think about yourself it’s time to look at the trauma you are trying to heal and work to understand what your emotions right now, are connected to. When in your life have you felt this way before?

#5 What am I doing to cope?

Now make a list of intentional actions you can take to manage your symptoms. This list can include anything you want: music, coloring, a phone call to a friend, some gardening, an extra appointment with your counselor – however you cope, make it intentional.

This Isn’t a Quick Fix

Managing a trauma trigger doesn’t mean the situation won’t still feel traumatic at first. Recognizing where the pain is coming from doesn’t make it any less painful. But I have learned through my years of therapy and healing that each time I manage a trauma response, my bounce back time gets shorter. The depth of my lows don’t go as deep as the last time.

My past is still there, it still hurts, and it shows up unannounced and uninvited. But it doesn’t stick around as long for each visit, and it’s grasp on me loosens a little each time.

Wishing you well on your healing journey.

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