Moving Past the Story behind your Trigger, to Reconnect with your Partner

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued – Brene Brown

On a Friday evening, while having a cold beer, I was playing a game of charades with my partner. We were excited, it was a lot of fun! Then he said something… “you’ll need to describe with more specifics; not too general”. He said this a few times.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I shut down. I disconnected from touching him.

I told him that “it’s so hard to play, it’s no fun when you keep telling me to be better.”
He said, I didn’t use that word, “better”.

Let’s slow it down right here for a moment.


I was triggered in a simple game of charades. I felt shamed and vulnerable, so I disconnected. I disconnected because my defence mechanism kicked in and I wanted to protect myself from feeling more hurt. It wasn’t because of what he said – it was because of the story I was making up in my head, about what he said.

The story went like this – you need to be better, you’re not good enough.


When you are triggered, you feel your emotions strongly. Sometimes the emotions are overwhelming and they blind you. Sometimes the emotions drive you to protect yourself or hurt the other person so that you can feel better about them hurting you in the first place.

The real reason your emotions are coming up so strongly, is because of the story that you’re telling yourself in your head about what happened to you or what was said to you.

Sometimes these stories have their roots in your childhood. These emotions belong to your younger self, a time when the trigger was formed, a belief about the world and people was formed, to keep you safe.


The next time you feel triggered…

(1) Slow down, pause and ask yourself:
what is the story that I’m making up in my head?

(2) Do a reality check-in with yourself:
Is this true right now (of this situation)?
What do I know to be true right now?

This practice creates a way for you to listen within to your story (of shame or hurt) and embrace your vulnerability. It helps you to keep your heart open and stop a cold war with your partner.


The moment I realised what I heard wasn’t actually what he said, I felt like I had antennas in my head going up in alert mode. My body felt triggered – still wanting to disconnect to keep me safe. Yet the very thing I really needed to feel safe in my relationship – is connection. Connection within myself – to my body, to my soul and connection with my partner.

My partner then taught me how to be specific in describing and I began practicing with him. We went through a couple of rounds and I picked up the technique of being more specific in my descriptions. The game was starting to feel fun again, as the burnt feeling inside of ‘needing to be better’ faded away. I was able to lean in closer to him, allowing our bodies to touch and hold his hand again.


There was a deeper lesson that I learnt that day; one that my partner asked for me to stay open to listen and receive – that negative comments and criticism would be coming my way on this path of life and I get to make the decision if I will let them affect me or not.

The thing is… this thought or belief of ‘needing to be better’ came up previously in my work. It only caught my attention in my relationship with my partner. The relationship space is a safe space for me to acknowledge my feelings, practice challenging my unhelpful thoughts and cross the bridge that I was standing on to reconnect with my partner.


“How you do one thing, is how you do everything”. You can use your ‘relationship space’, the space and connection that you share with your partner, to raise your awareness, to challenge your thoughts and beliefs and practice making changes – and these changes will have a ripple effect on other areas of your life as well!


Do you recall an incident that you’ve experienced an emotional trigger too? Share your experience with me below!


PS: If you’d like support to work through your emotional triggers, join my group Flow of Appreciation where we have daily practices that will help to shift your important relationships in your life. I’ll see you inside the circle!