When Happiness Triggers Fear.

Not all triggers indicate danger. 

Sometimes it is when we are healing that we feel the wobble of wounds surfacing.

And so, we need a more comprehensive idea of what triggers are and how to navigate them.

At this point most people are familiar with being emotionally triggered by something that upsets them—ideas that conflict with their values, toxic communication styles or directly being attacked whether that's physically or verbally.

For people who grew up in unstable environments happiness can also be a trigger. What? I know right! So unfair. But it's true. It seems to be a form of cognitive dissonance. When a new reference is introduced (and that can be a person or situation that actually feels kind and supportive when that is not what we are used to) our nervous system has to reset.

We may find ourselves needing to acclimate to experiencing kindness instead of neglect or abuse.


Normal, when it comes to psychoneuroimmunology, simply means: what we have become conditioned to. If we are used to being gaslit, neglected, abused or violated, our system normalizes to those conditions.

No! Obviously it's not normal for humans to destroy other humans (like in war zones!) but we adapt to what we come to expect and our pre-set survival responses will remain active to keep us safe, even when the danger has passed.

Experiencing (or even witnessing) kindness, warmth, openness, honesty and care can then then become a trigger. Our nervous system is convinced something must be wrong because we are beginning to feel outside of the normalized range of vibrational and emotional experience.

There is no fast cure for this. We need to be able to relax into the new reality set point. We need to see, consistently, that this can be way of life. We may experience fear, insecurity or a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Brene Brown calls this, foreboding joy and it is a real thing for most of us, but especially for those of us who experienced severe trauma or a lack of emotional stability in childhood.

We need to be patient as these feelings and fears surface. We may need to talk it out, we may need time in order to rebuild trust, not only with others, but with ourselves and a new way of moving through the world.

This is an awakening of instinct, intuition and our primal senses. This is a return of innocence and power. This raw life-affirming work that strips us to the bone and shows us, once again, that life is beautiful.

Be kind. Be patient. We are all so worthy.

Author: Justice Bartlett

If you would like to be a guest author for my site, please contact me with a proposal! 

Be sure to subscribe for more wild wisdom.