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What’s the Difference Between Being Gaslighted and Triggered?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

First and foremost, we shouldn’t rationalize and justify our own abuses of others. We should turn to God, seek protection, and remember Him often.

 

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When I was young, our home burned down. Afterwards, every time I saw a firetruck or heard of a fire, it would trigger memories of that difficult event. Over time, I was no longer triggered, although I still remembered it clearly. A trigger is anything stored in a person’s memory that brings back a whole, traumatic event. For a long time, if I saw or heard a firetruck, I would smell smoke, feel myself choking on it, and feel the panic I felt during the fire.

What of the person who triggered you or is being triggered?

Sometimes, the person who has triggered you has done something wrong. Perhaps you are triggered when you feel demeaned, and it brings up experiences of being humiliated. Those experiences can be from society such as racism, sexism, xenophobia or childhood experiences from school or family members.

First, you should manage your trigger by calming yourself down. Later, you can address the demeaning comment as itself, and not for all the feelings it’s brought up inside you.  I try to do this with Islamophobes.

To be gaslighted is much different. Gaslighting is a tactic whereby a person or people attempt to gain power by making someone question their reality past or present. Triggering is generally incidental and accidental—the firefighters who turned on the siren didn’t mean to harm anyone. But gaslighting is purposeful and intentional: the abuser tells someone, over and over, that an event did not happen, in order to gain or secure power. It is a way of undermining a person’s confidence in themselves and their perceptions of the world.

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How do we take God as our Witness during Trials and Tribulations?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. (Qur’an 20:8)

fedwa wazwazThere are two names of God, often spoken together, that show the balance of our world. They are An Nafi and Ad Darr.

The name An Nafi means God is the one who helps and confers all advantages, who creates all that produces benefit for us, from our wealth to our charms to our intelligence. It is God who gives us moments of genuine and healthy laughter, and who comforts our souls.

The name Ad Darr means God is also the one who, in His wisdom, also allows adversity or distress. God does not set out to punish us. But He has given us free will, and He allows that things that hurt us to exist.

“He is the One who makes you laugh or cry.” Qur’an 53:44

These two names fit together, and together they show how benefit and harm are part of a cycle, like circling around the Ka’aba. These apparent opposites make us aware that every action is part of a larger balance, even when the whole pattern is not visible to us.

When we receive benefits, we should turn to God. And when harm falls to us, we should also turn to God. We may turn to other people in both cases as well—to be grateful or to seek help. But the prophets show us that the turning to God can give us a sense of empowerment. This way, we will never be humiliated by seeking help that doesn’t come.

We will always have God.

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