How do I figure out where my triggers are coming from?

This is an important question and one of the first steps of changing your brain. We address it in the training, but becoming more aware of what is affecting you is important. Being aware of what is going on in your brain is a big key. You could have triggers coming from every direction. Many students have become so avoidant and caught in the “tunnel vision” of their behaviors that they are not aware. So the key is to just start observing and asking questions to yourself.

In the training we describe this awareness using the analogy of a surfer. The training states: “Anyone who has been surfing for a few years will tell you that after awhile you learn to look out into the ocean and read the swells so that you can predict with a fair amount of accuracy when the big waves will hit.

When someone is struggling to overcome unwanted sexual behaviors, it’s not uncommon to hear them describe the overwhelming urge they suddenly feel to act out, as “A wave that just hits me out of nowhere!” Of course, this is inaccurate, because if you know what to look for, you can recognize the “signs” that the wave is coming long before it actually hits you. These signs or triggers could be hours, days or even weeks before you feel washed over with the urge to act out sexually.

It’s very important to understand that when you feel overwhelmed by powerful appetites and desires to seek sexual outlets—“the wave”—that’s your brain’s way of saying, “I’m in trouble and I need help!” This need and the urges that it triggers are very legitimate. Based on experience, certain sexual outlets have proven to be a quick way to flood the brain and body with dopamine and endorphins and get temporary relief. After years of repetition, you may believe that you “need” certain sexual outlets in order to cope with life. But the truth is, these sexual behaviors are only symptoms of far deeper issues. The key is to begin understanding and dealing with the “real” causes and meeting the “real” needs that your brain has.

Like the surfer who learns to read the coming waves, you can learn to predict when you will be most vulnerable to feeling emotional triggers. The most obvious times could include: stress at work; financial difficulties; an argument with a loved one; alone in your hotel room on a business trip; battling with an illness; or things just not going well. These are fairly easy to identify once you’re looking for them. Other signs can be more subtle and require that you stay in tune with your emotions to recognize them.

Mindfulness is an excellent tool to use here as well. Be aware in the moment, just observe and do not judge what is going on. Step out look at yourself as if you were a third party observer. Just make notes of what is going on and learn what you can.

Journal writing, checking in daily with a coach or the community is an excellent way to start becoming aware. Keeping track on a calendar is another way to heighten this awareness.

Here is an idea from a student:

\“Through Candeo, the most valuable thing I have learned is how to think. The key is coming to an understanding of how my thoughts, and even those that I am not acutely aware about, directly affect my actions. I have learned that if I am not \“present\” in my mind, which the wave will slowly creep upon me. By bringing these unconscious thoughts into the forefront I have been much better able to address my unwanted behaviors and more fully understand where my triggers come from.\”

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