What is a “trigger?” What happens in the brain when we’re triggered?

A “trigger” is really a retrieval cue. It’s a cue that the brain associates with other things, and when it is recognized, all kinds of related info gets pulled up, including habitual action patterns, emotional responses, imagery, memories, and more.

The process of recovery can, in a very real sense, be likened to the process of learning NEW patterns of thinking and behavior for the thousands of old cues which used to drive your old thinking and behaviors.

The only way to do this is to be “triggered” and then do something different. Or experience something different.

In many ways, I think our Online Support Community is the safest way to experience those triggers, because they are not associated with other, more powerful compound cues, like the actual presence of the food or family/social pressures to eat, for example.

So we can use the community for its small “triggering” that it provides, and use it to help us recover, as we experience being triggered and then taking new action, like journaling, using a mantra (“that’s not my food”), or just taking a deep breath and replying with something positive to another post.

I do think those of us who have the wherewithal to do so should try, where at all possible, to limit the explicit descriptions (or even, perhaps, specific mentions) of non-BLE foods. But we can also take an “attitude of gratitude” to those posts we find are triggering us, and see them as gifts to aid us in our journey. They’re helping us to rewire our brains for success.