Most of us are aware of the larger trauma triggers. We can recognize some of the people, places, and things that harmed us, and do our best to avoid them all. For example, if our trauma had something to do with the beach we can avoid any area with sand or any sounds of the beach. We can sit down with our therapist and make a list of all of the things that we know trigger our trauma response or bring us back to those frightening events. But what about the unconscious triggers? The ones we don’t recognize, and often find upsetting us, pulling us into flashbacks and causing us to dissociate. Those are the ones I want to talk about today, the unconscious trauma triggers, and how we can identify them so they no longer harm us.
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We are constantly taking in our environment, the sounds, scents, how the outside air feels on our skin. We are like sponges for sensation which can be great when it comes to enjoying ourselves and assessing our area for threat, but this can also make us more vulnerable to trauma triggers. Which brings me to one of the most common unconscious trauma triggers, scent. Over the years I have had patients report getting flashbacks or dissociating when in tight or busy spaces, and chalking it up to being around people they don’t know. And while that may be the case, sometimes when we dig a little deeper we can find that a perfume or cologne worn by someone in their office or at that event was actually to blame for the upset. All of our other senses could be just as guilty for causing these trauma responses when we are out in the world living our life
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