In today’s video, I want to respond to a viewer’s question related to retroactive jealousy triggers: “Do I have to accept that certain things will always trigger me?”
Read or watch below to hear my response to the question, “Will retroactive jealousy triggers go away?”
Zachary Stockill: I get a lot of questions about triggers from people who watch my channel. Triggers relating to their partner’s past, or their partner saying something that gets them thinking about their partner’s past… Retroactive jealousy sufferers often write to me complaining about triggers.
In today’s video, I want to respond to a viewer question with a pretty typical question relating to retroactive jealousy triggers.
“I have a new question about triggers. Is there a way to completely work through these things? These are obscure triggers. I have been able to work through it, but certain triggers never fail to F me up. So my question is, do I have to accept that certain things will always trigger me”
Thank you for your question, D. And the long and short of it is: you may have to accept that you’re never going to like certain things. But those potential triggers don’t have to trigger you, if that makes sense.
In other words, whatever your particular retroactive jealousy trigger is, it may never be your favorite thing in the world to think about…
You may never love 100% of your partner’s past. And that’s okay.
But when we use the word triggers, we’re usually referring to our response to triggers. In other words, there’s the thing and there’s our response to the thing. You may never love it entirely. But your response to it can certainly change over time, with diligence, with patience, and with some practice.
As a classic retroactive jealousy example: let’s say once upon a time your partner slept with some idiot. Nowadays, with casual sex and Tinder and all this craziness… a lot of us have stories like that. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it’s simply a fact of life in much of the modern world.
So your partner slept with some idiot. You may never love the fact that your partner slept with this person. But that’s okay. I don’t know about you, but I’m not perfect, I would imagine your partner isn’t either. And there’s always going to be something about whoever we’re dating, that isn’t our favorite thing in the world to think about. And that’s okay; that’s called dating.
So you may never love the fact that your partner slept with some idiot. But…
Your reaction to that trigger doesn’t have to be as intense as it’s been in the past.
And you don’t always have to react the same way to that if you gain the right perspective.
Gain the right tools to start controlling your response to triggers. I’ve spoken a lot on this channel about triggers. I’ve got all kinds of online courses and books and guided meditation series for overcoming retroactive jealousy. At this point, thousands of people have found them very, very helpful.
But to give you something to work with in terms of triggers: whenever you do encounter a trigger, there are two things that I want you to start doing if you’re not doing them now.
So the first step when you encounter a trigger is simply to pause and take a deep breath. I know that sounds silly. I know that people will tell you all the time, “just take a deep breath…” There’s a reason. Because when you breathe deeply, you fill your entire lungs up with oxygen. And that immediately sends an unconscious signal to your brain that you can relax… “We’re getting enough oxygen, everything’s okay here.”
It’s not going to solve the problem entirely. But it’s a great first step in the direction of healing.
The first step is simply to pause for a moment and take a deep breath. The next step is to pay attention to anywhere on your body that feels tense.
So the classic example I always use is back when I was struggling with retroactive jealousy many years ago, when I’d thought about my then-girlfriend’s past. I would notice that my shoulders would get kind of tense. And I’d almost be like squinting or something. It took me a long time to realize that I was doing this.
But with enough observation and patience, I realized that every time I think about this, my body’s reacting in this particular way. So after you pause, after you take your deep breath, realize which part of your body feels tense. And then do something to stretch or deliberately relax that area of your body.
And this can be very subtle. No one else needs to know that you’re having these feelings and that you’re relaxing your body in this way. You can simply shift your body on your seat or stretch a little bit, or do whatever you need to do. Take a moment to start breaking the link between your physical sensations and any kind of mental anxiety or mental strife that you’re going through.
When you pause when you take a deep breath when you shift your body to relax in the areas of tension under stress… this is one of my favorite ways to start getting a handle on triggers. Because it’s not intellectual…
It’s a simple way to tell your body and tell your brain, even on a subconscious level, that everything’s okay here, we’re not in danger, everything’s good.
The next step is to redirect your attention back to whatever you should be focusing on.
So whether that’s a conversation with your partner, whether it’s your plans for the afternoon, whether it’s your studies if you’re in school or your job… Whatever it is, continually repeat this process, just keep redirecting the attention back.
I want to emphasize this is probably not going to solve your problem entirely. Retroactive jealousy is a complicated beast, unfortunately.
That’s why I’ve put out video courses, for example, Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast.
There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to this issue of retroactive jealousy. But I hope you found these baby steps helpful. And believe it or not, they really will go a long way toward eventually working through these retroactive jealousy triggers if you’ve ever wondered “Will retroactive jealousy triggers go away?”
If you are currently struggling with retroactive jealousy, you can click here to sign up for a free four-part mini-course that will help you get started.
Or, if you need more help, then you can consider signing up for one-on-one coaching with me. [Subject to availability]