Holiday Triggers

The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis; but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love. Mother Teresa

The holidays are a time for family, celebration, and love. But what if your family wasn’t like that at all? What if your family is still now a place of pain and anguish? Are you expected to go and sit at the dinner table across from the very people who hurt you for Christmas lunch? I constantly see survivors of childhood trauma feeling guilty and obligated to continue a relationship with their abusers in the name of Jesus. Then they fall apart for the following week feeling triggered and anxious and can’t understand why. I believe in their hearts they feel like they are fulfilling their Christian duties, but does God really expect us to put ourselves in harm’s way in His name?

I believe the answer is no! God asks us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves (Galatians 5:14, Matthew 19:19, Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31, and so on!), there is an assumption that we love ourselves and treat ourselves well, and then therefore love others in this way. What does loving you look like?

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7

 It looks like living in the truth firstly. The truth is some people are evil and do evil things and we need to make a decision to not associate with those people, we still love them, but we create boundaries around that love. Boundaries are an element of the protection part of love; we must protect ourselves from further abuse. We don’t walk into a lion’s den and expect not to get bitten! We develop our sense of self and core beliefs from our family environment. There are specific relationship rules in every family; these rules are formed in our internal worlds as a child from the behaviours of our parents and other family members. The four critical questions we ask ourselves as infants are:

Am I worthy of being loved?

Am I competent to get the love I need?

Are others reliable and trustworthy?

Are others accessible and willing to respond to me when I need them to be?

Based on the answers to these questions above, your sense of self is either positive or negative. Likewise your sense of other is also either negative or positive. Unfortunately when we are placed back into our family environment, our subconscious mind goes through our experiences, memories, and feelings of childhood, our body is taken back to those moments. This creates the trigger. Not only do we need to protect ourselves from further abuse but from allowing our bodies to be placed back there in the moment of abuse.

Send a Christmas card, or a present, or if you must phone your family (Can also trigger you!) but don’t feel obligated to share the Christmas dinner table with them. God can provide other people in their life to do that. You need to look after yourself and allow yourself to heal.

I pray you have a safe Christmas filled with the Lords joy and love.

Much Love,


Attachments, Dr Tim Clinton and Dr Gary Sibcy

The New International Version of the Bible


2 Responses to “Holiday Triggers

  • This is what King David did. It still works today. Psalm 32:7 “You are my hiding place; you protect me from distress. You surround me with shouts of joy from those celebrating deliverance.” (Selah)

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