April 2, 2017 Dr. Sheree Bill

Sports and Emotional Triggers

Triggers help you and triggers hurt you. An emotional trigger Is a reaction that produces a greater emotion than what is called for in a specific event. The problem is when we are being triggered we often do not understand that this reaction is a trigger about something else. We are triggered by many things. You know you are in trouble when that "trigger" happens over and over again- when there is a pattern that keeps you stuck in overreacting or even finally quitting.

A trigger doesn't have to be bad. It can motivate you to kick it up a notch, get excited, push you harder. BUT when old voices are the triggers that say " you loser" " you can't do it", then you can become overwhelmed and even defeated.

But those are OLD voices /OLD experiences. We often even put that old voice onto a present person and blame that person. Maybe that present person even acts or resembles the old mean person.  BUT HE\SHE IS NOT THAT PERSON.

It was in the past.

When you notice the trigger reaction ' when you recognize it and feel it in your body' the key is to become aware that "this is something old " and there are things you need to do. Shake yourself physically, get the mind and body working together, take a breath and release the tension and most importantly CLEAR YOUR MIND OF OTHERS. STAY IN THE PRESENT. IT's just you and your goal. You are in the ZONE... NO ONE ELSE IS THERE.

Often we are not even aware of what old experiences or voices are being triggered. That's because we have filed them away because we didn't want to look at the pain or helplessness we felt. So at some point, it is so important to do some honest soul searching about what we haven't faced from our past.  It is that discovery of the truth of our experience that can truly set us free.

For me, it was years later after I had lost what I hoped was to be my career but it doesn't have to take that long if we can admit what has truly stopped us/wounded us.


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When I was a girl I played the junior tennis circuit. Because of my athletic ability, a lot of eyes were on me to perform. The competition was fierce. However, I was sensitive and had not a built up the resilience to deal with this pressure and the "every girl for herself" mentally no matter the cost. And I had triggers, hurtful triggers that I did not know about let alone how to get past. Every player became a foe/ a person out to take something from me. It had become personal due to my particular trigger. I will never forget one match in particular. I had been training hard and was playing well. I was up 6-2 5-2 against the number one player. I had been right behind her for a long time. I was about to win this. Suddenly the score was called and I felt the old familiar feeling creeping in.  I looked at my coach in the bleachers and saw that he knew what was happening. There was such utter disappointment on his face. It was unbearable. I lost that set and the next. My head was not in the game. There was some trigger some inner voice I did not understand that had taken over and I felt I could not do it.

Like many times I would fold right at the crucial point that would have set me apart and move me forward. I spoke to my parents about many things but I never spoke to them about this repetition feeling that was triggered. In sports you are expected to move on, just study your opponent and practice harder. I ended up feeling sick and extremely anxious just thinking about going to a tournament. Finally, I quit- feeling like a loser and a  disappointment. It took me years to process what "was wrong with me". I understand so much more about myself today and though I am sad for that young me  I feel very passionate about helping others to work on, talk about, and process the inner struggles that keep them from succeeding at what they love to do.

I keep a plaque in my office as a reminder that says:



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