Some communication modules and techniques make a really helpful distinction between a trigger (or a stimulus) and the cause of our feelings.
The two communication models I have studied* make it clear, that the cause of our feelings, is either:
1. A thought about what happened
2. A need that is met or not met as a result of what happened.
A stimulus or a trigger is not the cause but the circumstance or what you observed. An example of a trigger in a communication model could be someone saying “you are so selfish”.
Responses 1 and 2 below would fit into the models but not response 3:
1. Feel angry because I think the other person is wrong/out of line.
2. Feel uncomfortable because I need reassurance that my behaviour was in the best interest of everyone.
3. Continue to feel peaceful.
In response 3 the words “you are so selfish” are not a stimulus or a trigger.
Look at the following three statements:
1. The car crash triggered the driver to have a nervous breakdown.
2. The car crash stimulated the driver to drive more carefully.
3. The car crash triggered (or stimulated) happiness in the driver.
If someone said “the car crash triggered happiness in the driver” we would probably want to know more! How could a car crash trigger or stimulate happiness?
When we use the words trigger or stimulus in the above situation we are making assumptions that a car crash would lead to a certain range of responses and not others. We are using the word stimulus or trigger to refer to the cause of something and that is how the words are normally used.
Trigger : “An event that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation.”
Stimulus: “A thing or event that evokes a specific functional reaction in an organ or tissue.”
The Free Dictionary
Stimulus: “Something causing or regarded as causing a response.”
My clarity after many years of trying to be clear about communication and choice is that when you make an inner choice for Love (or Happiness or to hold the hand of your inner Guide) then nothing external is a trigger or a stimulus. Yes, nothing effects you but your connection to Love!
When you choose Love and someone says “you are so selfish” (or you crash your car), you just continue to be happy. When you are 100% happy you have no defensive thoughts, fear thoughts, or needs that are not already met.
When you make an inner choice for fear then everything that happens in your life becomes a trigger or a stimulus. Your feelings and reactions are caused by external events. You inner choice for fear has made the world a fearful place.
If communication models make the helpful distinction that our feelings are caused by our thoughts (or our needs) but also see circumstance as a stimulus (or a trigger), then two causes may have been identified. If you have two causes you lose clarity and confusion may result.
For me the concept of inner choice comes to the rescue because it opens me up for an experience. When I experience that nothing but my inner choice can trigger how I feel, the word trigger (or stimulus) as it is normally used has no meaning. I am in a different world!
On a practical note: When I experience that I am triggered by an external event, I choose to ask for inner help, to remember that the only trigger of how I feel is an inner choice.
*If anyone wants to know about the communication models I am referring to, please send me an email.