Remove Your Triggers
Updated: Jul 31, 2019
2ND CORINTHIANS 6:14 “Do not try to work together as equals with unbelievers, for it cannot be done. How can right and wrong be partners? How can light and darkness live together?”
I know that the majority of my blog posts have to do with nutrition and training- the more OBVIOUS components of physique and health change. But the truth is there's a MENTAL component to clanging your life as well, a mental component I've become very passionate about, and one I address in depth with my BEYOND STRONG clients.
I want to talk about the importance of environment and the role it plays in your mental wellbeing.
Often we think of our environment as being our physical surroundings but in reality it is so much more then that. Our environment isn’t just where we are, it’s who we are with, and what we see, hear, and take in on a moment to moment, daily basis.
As I’ve gotten older I realize just how crucial my environment is, and periodically, I actually take time to assess it, and ask myself if my environment is helping or hurting my mental, physical or spiritual growth.
Does where I spend my time, how I spend my time, and who I spend my time with help me to evolve and improve?
Or is it holding me back?
Causing me to second guess myself and my abilities?
Making me feel poorly about who I am?
Enter social media.
When compared to real life interactions you may not think of social media as part of your environment but believe me, given the amount of time our culture spends online, it certainly is. Like any external stimuli, ( TV, radio, books, magazines ) the internet and in particular social media, contributes to or detracts from your mental and emotional wellbeing.
To me, social media is a double-edged sword. In so many ways it’s a beautiful means for connecting with others, a powerful tool for education, inspiration and influence. But it’s also a breeding ground for self comparison, drama, misinformation and lies.
People lie about their meals.
They lie about their workouts.
They lie about their routines.
They even lie about their bodies by way of photo editing apps.
Sometimes they don’t lie, necessarily, but they don’t show the whole picture. Which is a form of omission in and of itself.
It’s easy to lie behind the safety of a computer monitor, tablet or smartphone. And then people like you, and I, scroll feed after feed of these lies, comparing our lives to these trumped up highlight reels.
Photo after photo, blog post after blog post, Instagram story after story, I just feel overloaded sometimes with information; what people are wearing, eating, what supplements they’re using, how they make their greens juice, what their skincare routine is and more.
And ironically the more we see into each other’s lives, the deeper our fascination grows. Where’s that person going? What’s she doing? What’s she eating? Who is she with? Has she lost weight? Gained weight? Blah blah.
The problem is this: the more we know and the more obsessed we become with knowing, the more it becomes what I call a trigger for comparison, an environmental source of mental and emotional toxicity.
Maybe it’s training triggers.
That person works out like that so is what I’m doing wrong? S
he does more cardio then me so should I do more?
Maybe it’s a food thing.
People compare how much they eat to how much someone else appears to eat, and they start to feel bad about themselves.
Am I eating too much?
Am I eating too little?
Should I eat more fat?
Maybe it’s feeling like you are constantly being told you NEED.
Take this supplement.
Gotta have these running shoes.
Try this pill.
Buy my protein powder.
You need this product!
It might be a growth thing.
As a coach I know it can be for me. Comparing followers or numbers or likes or comments. She’s doing this, and her numbers are growing, so should I do the same thing?
Why don’t I have more likes?
Are my hashtags wrong?
Maybe it’s a lifestyle thing.
Maybe it seems like she has the perfect relationship, but you just keep facing heartbreak after heartbreak.
What do you do to be more like her?
To find a guy like him?
All of these questions are the wrong questions for so many reasons, but the most important thing I can tell you to do is to remove these triggers from your life. Immediately.
That’s my point in this whole post. Your environment impacts your life and you have to look at what you’re taking in on a daily basis and ask yourself if that impact is positive or not. Because comparison can lead to crazy, obsessive, unhealthy thoughts and behaviors and you do not need that in your life.
The first step is to actually identify what triggers you.
It might be a TV show, a book, or a magazine.
Maybe it’s a friend or a family member.
Maybe it’s a specific social media account.
Or a blog.
Or someone's FB feed.
Often times we don’t even realize the things or people who trigger us to compare or to feel poorly about ourselves. Sometimes it’s painstakingly obvious, yes, but other times it’s more insidious.
Think long, hard, and deep about it. Be aware of how you feel when you see certain things or surround yourself with certain people. Be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t pretend like something isn’t triggering you just because you don’t want it to. Sometimes the things that we don’t want to trigger us are the worst offenders. You always want what’s not good for you, right?
Whatever it is, you have to distance yourself from it.
And this takes courage. Don't underestimate it. It's something I'm STILL learning to do myself. Distancing yourself is hard.
Sometimes we don’t want to distance ourselves because it makes us feel weak. Like, do I really have to get rid of it to get over this? To stop comparing?
Or sometimes we don’t want to get rid of it because we’re afraid we’ll miss out on something – information, entertainment, friendship.
Sometimes we struggle to step away because letting go can be really hard.
And sometimes we simply don’t want to admit to ourselves how much someone or something is triggering us.
But if you want to improve your life, you have to find the courage to strengthen your environment by removing your triggers.
It doesn’t matter how uncomfortable or difficult it is – it’s not good for you to be around it.
If that means unfollowing the most famous, interesting people on Instagram, do it.
If that means breaking up with your best friend, you still need to do it.
Do not sacrifice your own health and well-being for the sake of someone else. If that person is triggering you, as hard as it may be you need to establish distance. You have to shift your relationships as wisely as you can, even though it’s hard.
We often make excuses for why we can’t cut someone out of our lives. We give people a free pass because of something they’re going through, or we just feel like we can’t cut ties because they’re family, or sometimes we just don’t want to cause drama or hurt their feelings. I think sometimes it’s even that we’re afraid to cut them out because we are used to them being there, and we don’t know what we would do if things were different.
This is much easier said than done. Trust me – I have an incredibly hard time with it, but if I’m learning anything these days, it’s that none of those excuses are good enough.
The moments of my life when I have let go of certain people who were triggering me are hard moments of beautiful strength that stand out in my mind. I may have taken me months to build the courage to cut ties, but when I finally did it was like a dead weight was lifted off my shoulders. No one and nothing is worth mental turmoil, self-consciousness, and an unnecessary roadblock to being content and happy.
Recently, I’ve started going through and unfollowing accounts that I never thought I would unfollow because I realized those accounts were filling my head with self criticism and doubt. It was stuff I didn’t need to read or see because all it did was make me feel I wasn’t good enough or doing enough.
I was comparing myself.
I have had to block people who were emotionally draining me. I felt burnt out every day dealing with messages from people who were saying things that made me constantly feel inadequate, and it took me months to do that because I was worried about hurting anyone’s feelings.
I’m slowly learning my boundaries.
It’s fun to be interested in other people’s lives and follow along on social media to see what people are doing, or to interact, share and be inspired but it’s not okay when that interest turns into an obsession which turns you into a comparison monster.
It can be dangerous to see what people are up to, to start an endless Google search, to look at “what-I-eat-in-a-day”, dwell on every pro -athletes fitness routine, or scroll endless food porn feeds. It’s a bad idea to compare your body, life, accomplishments, car, home, clothing, income, credentials, health, weight loss, spouse WHATEVER to anyone else.
Instead of comparing their life to yours, focus on you. Be aware of how other places and people in your environment are making you feel and if someone or something is triggering you to feel like you’re not good enough, get that out of your life. You’re brave enough. I know you are.
Instead, put your effort and time into the people and things that make you feel good. Spend time with people who make you happy, who make you feel secure, supported and loved. Fill your social media feeds with accounts that uplift you, inspire you and make you feel good about who you are and who you are becoming.
There's a quote I love: “Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s YOUR masterpiece after all.” In other words, love yourself enough to leave what isn’t healthy. A healthy body BEGINS with a healthy mind, and a mind trapped in comparsion can never be a mind that allows for improvement and growth.