All of us have had the experience of overreacting to certain events or people. Often, it is hard to explain why we are being “set off” by something or someone. Yet we find our feelings curiously hard to shake. I find that a rule to remember when dealing with feelings, especially strong ones, is “if it lasts, it’s in the past.” A common example of this is what has been termed “triggers.” This refers to things that bring up fears or discomfort because of past events and/or trauma. Victims of sexual assault are often “set off” by reminders of similar crimes around them. Sometimes we are “triggered” without realizing it—feelings are stirred up that relate to forgotten, or repressed memories.

A zombie is my term for the feelings about things, ideas, and people that live within us and trip us up. They can be very…

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