We often say I got triggered by this or I got triggered by that. But what are these triggers? Triggers in Harm OCD are those events that bring about obsessions, which in turn lead to compulsions and keep the cycle of Harm OCD alive. Identifying triggers will prepare us better for the onslaught of obsessions. If we can identify our triggers, we may recognize that we are going to obsess, which may lead to compulsive behavior. Knowledge of this can help us manage our Harm OCD better. Following are some ways in which triggers might be visible.
Sensory: Something you see/watch – action and violent movies, Facebook/Instagram posts, videos, articles. It could be a specific color (red for blood), various types of sharp or heavy objects, heights from which people could be pushed down, rope to strangulate, and so on.
Something you hear – News of violence from other people, podcasts, specific sounds such as drilling or sawing. Or it may be the way people seem to annoy you and bring those urges out in you. Specific words, names of people, names of books, or anything else, the sound of which you would like to avoid.
Something you smell – Some perfume, body odor, some types of food odors, etc.
Something you eat – Something spicy (to make the eater suffer), something sweet (to be given to diabetics), alcohol (to get people into the wrong habit), and so on.
Something you touch – sharp objects, heavy objects, and anything that can potentially be used as a weapon.
Cognitive: A specific unpleasant memory with specific people, or having an argument with people.
Place: Specific places that you may be triggered by. It may be your place of work, where you see different people, you may want to harm, such as high rises, factory workshops, and so on.
Time of day: You may find yourself more anxious in the morning or in the evening or on weekends.
These are some of the examples of how triggers may be identified. There may be many more ways in which your triggers may be activated. One simple way to identify triggers is to pay attention to the things that we consciously and subconsciously avoid. We avoid triggers because triggers lead us to obsessions, which lead to compulsions.
Worksheet 3.4 has been provided for you to fill in your triggers. Fill them in. Examples have been provided to help you get started. Determine if there are any triggers that you have missed. Slowly, as you progress through this course book, you will discover more triggers, and deal with most of them.