Triggers and our subconscious reactions

Imagine placing a fresh slice of lemon into your mouth.

Now take a moment and observe what happens in your mouth as you imagine sucking on this fresh piece of lemon slice.

When you’re done, note down how you reacted, what you felt, what you thought.


Now I will tell you what happened to me when I tried this exercise.


I closed my eyes and imagined a fresh, juicy slice of lemon on my tongue. Immediately, I became aware of the tart, sour taste lemons are known for.

I noticed my mouth began to water slightly. It wasn’t very prominent, just a subtle hint that I now had a bit more saliva in my mouth than I did before I thought of the lemon.

I opened my eyes and tuned into what just happened.

My mouth began to water when I imagined I was sucking on a slice of lemon. Why?

Because my brain, once it took hold of my thought, went searching for data I had stored about lemons so it could tell my body how to react.

Thing is, I did not have a slice of lemon in my mouth.

So why did I begin to salivate then?

Here is where I draw you back to my post about the power of the subconscious mind. The thought triggered a mental reflex and began searching for every reaction I ever had with lemons.

What did I know about lemons based on decades of direct experience with this fruit?

Lemons are sour, they make you salivate. Lemons are tart, refreshing and tasty but can be a bit of a shock to your system when you’re consuming them plain. Lemons make you thirsty; you suddenly desire a glass of sparkling water flavoured with lemon juice.

See what I’m saying here?

I reacted predictably to an event that hasn’t happened yet. There was no lemon, only the thought of a lemon. And yet, I reacted the same way, albeit to a lesser extent, but still with similar reactions as if I did have a lemon slice in my mouth.

It’s eye-opening to me just how much power the subconscious mind has.

This exercise has given me insights in how to control my go-to reactions to certain events – real or imagined – that typically launch me into victim mode, or worst-case scenario building mode, or the ever returning woe-is-me pity-party mode.

Just like the lemon evokes a certain reaction, other events, real or imagined, evoke reactions based on stored memories.

Other examples

Think of that candy bar on your colleagues desk. That’s the same one you ate two days ago and immediately beat yourself up over. Now your path to health and weight-loss has been interrupted and you have to start your diet all over again. It seems almost futile, an insurmountable obstacle preventing you from achieving your goal.

But that candy bar on your colleague’s desk is mocking you. You see it visually, which is how you set your subconscious mind into motion. It goes looking for information you have stored away about this candy bar. Once it finds the data you have stored, it will signal your brain to act a certain way. “Go get it, you deserve it, remember how good it tasted? Sweet chocolate, so satisfying, it made you happy! You worked hard today, go treat yourself.”

This is why I had not one but two slices of lemon tart the other day. And a Portuguese custard tart. 🙄

Take action

Can you find a method, like Pavlov did with his dogs, to rewire your predetermined reaction to the candy bar?

What about other triggers? Ex-husbands, math tests, repeated failed relationships?

Note: I appreciate this is a simplistic approach and not at all comprehensive. If you had serious trauma, a diagnosed condition of some sort or other mental health issues requiring the attention of medical professionals, then this article isn’t going to solve your problems.

I don’t claim to have any answers, I’m simply processing my own thoughts and sharing them with you. I do, in fact, have a personal example involving a loaf of bread which has become a trigger. I do have it written out already elsewhere, perhaps I will share it one day, perhaps I will include it in the anthology I’m writing, but for now, I leave you with the slice of lemon experiment. 🍋

Do let me know what you think!

Thank you for reading my post. See you in the comments!


10 thoughts on “Triggers and our subconscious reactions

  1. nothing to discuss
    alone and without
    no need to shout anger is a danger enough
    and the freak fuck up doth too seek
    but negativity
    is quickly shut ass faced and shit outta luck lady
    peace tho ya know?


  2. Good analogy about the hamster wheel. Yes! A distraction like a chant is a good way to get off it.

    I’m thinking instead of Twinkle, maybe Twisted Sister’s”We’re not gonna take it” instead? 😂🤣😂


  3. Those “hamster on it’s wheel” thoughts are like earworm songs. I’ve had trouble with them and I’ve given myself a specific thing to do when the thoughts come…
    It varies, but I’ve recited the alphabet, done jumping jacks, sung Twinkle Twinkle little star… anything works if you do it every time. It’s like a circuit breaker.

    Sometimes the hamster would get right back on the wheel and I’d be reciting the alphabet again… and again… and again…🙄🤦🏼‍♀️

    We CAN change our thinking with practice. And yes, mental health issues and trauma need more than Twinkle twinkle.


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