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Identifying Trauma Triggers

A person feeling triggered by everyone's judgments and experiencing anxiety, shame, and depression
A person feeling triggered by everyone's judgments and experiencing anxiety, shame, and depression

Trauma can be experienced through one's own life events or passed down through family. Personal trauma can begin with experiences while in the mothers womb and life events throughout a person's history. Generational trauma can be passed down up to fourteen generations both consciously or unconsciously. Trauma influences a person's nervous system, mind, body, and brain. A trauma response can be evidenced by a person's instinct to fight, flight, freeze, or fawn.

What is Trauma?

You may have heard the terms Big T or Little T to describe categories of traumas. Big T's are major event trauma(s) we experience. Little T's are a culmination of smaller traumas. Trauma itself is simply any event we experience as distressful. As an individual, only we can define what trauma is for ourselves.

What is Generational Trauma?

Generational trauma is learned trauma from our ancestors. The trauma can be passed down to us directly or through subtle messages from our family members or members of our community. For example, South Asian and South Asian American individuals may not be able to advocate for themselves because of behaviors their ancestors learned as a result of British rule in their countries.

Responses to Trauma:

Fight: Brings out the act of staying and fighting in the event as well as when the trauma is triggered

Flight: The act of running away from the trauma and similar situations

Freeze: The individual is frozen and unable to think, feel, or act

Fawn: The individual is prone to people pleasing or overly apologizing

How Do You Identify Trauma Triggers?

Ask yourself…

(1) What triggered me?

(2) Use "I" statements and answer "I felt…"

(3) Have I previously been triggered by this?

(4) Connect the trigger and feeling back to a memory

Trauma Triggers:

Trauma can be triggered by external or internal experiences. Examples of some triggers are:

Internal Trauma Triggers

External Trauma Triggers







Poor Sleep




Identifying trauma and trauma triggers can help begin the process of healing trauma.

5 Things You Can Do To Manage Trauma:

  1. Journal about the event, your thoughts, and your feelings

  2. Meditate

  3. Take care of yourself by having good sleep hygiene, diet, and exercise

  4. Lean on your support system (friends and family)

  5. Talk to a trauma therapist

Shruti Shankar is an experienced trauma therapist at Shakti Therapy and Healing Services.

Shakti Therapy is a holistic & psychotherapeutic mental health clinic. We realize that we are an integral part of the vast and complex web of life - that the health of the whole is intimately connected with the health of the individual. Shakti Therapy combines both ancient Eastern & the most up to date scientific modalities, to create a basis of connection - mind to body, human to nature, individual to community, physical to spiritual, past to present to future.

To learn more about Shakti Therapy and Healing services, please visit


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