Listen To This Article – Four Things To Do If Your Story Triggers Others
During my storytelling workshops I am privileged to listen to all kind of amazing stories from people. I won’t share them here because I believe everyone has the right to share their own stories, but I do want to focus on those stories that might be triggering for others. If you think or have been told that your story might trigger other people, here are four things you can do.
What do I mean with “trigger”
This is a term I came across since living in the UK and the more I read books, watched TV series and educated myself through resources like The Other Box, the more I understood the importance of it. Triggering means that your story might make people think about their own experiences. And while this is something that happens all the time, sometimes it can be quite traumatic. This is especially true when the story is attached to violence, abuse, trauma.
So saying that your story might trigger someone, means that your story might remind them of a negative experience they have lived and haven’t processed yet.
One can only and should only share their story if they had the time and help to process it. Because that’s when you are able to share the lesson you learnt from it.
I’m going to assume that you have given yourself the chance to process your story whether is through coaching, therapy or spiritual guidance or any other way you see fit. You have acknowledged your story. Now, what to do if that story triggers other people?
Four things you can do if your story triggers other people
1- Know why you want to share
Having a strong motivation behind why you are sharing a particular story is fundamental. Too many times we think that we share our story for ourselves. We don’t. We process our stories for ourselves. But sharing a story is an act of kindness. So when you are going to share something triggering, you have to know why it is important to do so. If you can’t find a reason, don’t do it.
2- Think about your audience
Storytelling is an act of kindness. It’s a gift you give to your audience in order to help them, show them you understand them, demonstrate how they can achieve the same. How does your story is going to do that for them? And also, how will they receive your story?
You don’t need to have all the answers but try as much as possible to ask yourself these questions. Because triggers can be anything: from experience of loss, to stories of racism, to stories of abandonment, addiction …
Acknowledge with your audience that the story you’re about to share might be triggering. You don’t have to do it like in television. Use your own words, style and humanity to let them know that you realise this might be hard for some people to hear and if at any time they don’t feel like listening, that’s fine too. And be ready to receive the feedback on that.
Forgive yourself for having triggered people through your story. But also absolve them from having to listen to your story if that cause them pain. Be kind with yourself and with them.
Remember not to take it personally if your story triggers someone else. It’s not about you or your story, you are perfect the way you are and so is your story. It is about the process other people haven’t gone through yet. And it’s about being kind to them and not harming them more.