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Character Development and Emotional Triggering

Take a minute to think back. What characters have you read or watched that really trigger you to feel? You know, the ones who bring that sick-to-your-stomach feeling, or make you feel angry, or the character that feels eerily familiar to you.

We all have our favorite characters from books and movies. Consider your favorite superhero. Favorite villain. Favorite fairy tale princess. These are the characters that really hit you a certain way, pull on your heart strings.

They make you feel...something (happy, sad, like crying your eyes out, anger, etc.).

There’s connection between and among the characters in the story, and we, as readers, form a connection with each of them as well. It's the reason some of us (me especially) need a box of tissues watching certain movies. Or why we celebrate with the good guys when the villain is defeated.

Art imitates life imitates art.

And what other genre is more character-driven than the good, old-fashioned, romance characters? From the classic friends-to-lovers scenario, to enemies-to-lovers, to love stories around the themes of destiny or second chances at love, we love a good romance.

And why wouldn’t we? Romance literature is filled with great dialogue, well-crafted scenes, passion, and drama. There’s emotional depth, real vulnerability, and ultimately, we watch the great romance couples grow and change over time. These characters bring out the best, and sometimes worst, in one another, which, ultimately, helps them grow. The dynamic between the two, while exciting, and sometimes steamy, can also be very triggering for the characters. For authors, that is part of the challenge. Make it close enough to seem real, while also helping your readers escape real life for a while and get lost in someone else's world.

Kind of like real life, right? As with real people relationships, the triggering between the characters is a path to healing, resolving some sort of past trauma or conflict, bringing up some reality, some pain they have to deal with in order to get to the next level in their life, or in this case, the next chapter of the story.

Keep in mind - we connect with characters that we feel are similar to us, those on a similar path, or a path we desire for our own lives.

I will use myself as an example here…

Growing up, I loved all things love and fairy tales. I was probably something like five or six years old. At some point in my life, I turned that off, and started to believe that romance and passion were fake. Instead of getting that warm and fuzzy feeling when I watched or read scenes of love, I instead had more of a “yuck” or “ewwww, that’s gross” feeling. I started to believe that the age-old adage “happily ever after” was only meant for popular, animated princess movies. I felt that sting of “yeah, right, that could never happen” when I watched a chick-flick, or felt a tightness in my chest and teared up watching the latest rom-com. I was judging these stories as “bad” or “wrong” or “impossible” - separate from me, and living outside the realm of possibility for my own life. Which, looking back, made me sad, and a little bit angry.

Fortunately, that period has ended, and I am back to my old, cupid-loving self.

I have come to realize that I was looking at the rom-coms and great romance novels the wrong way. Instead of looking at them as a “hell no, that can’t happen,” I should have been looking at them as evidence of what is possible!

Back then I didn’t realize that I was being triggered because I was being shown an opportunity to learn a lesson and grow. The negative emotional triggering was actually coming up to point out all the ways I felt unworthy of that crazy stupid love, passion, and romance. I didn’t feel good about myself and what I brought to the table. I wasn't confident in my own ability to attract love. Therefore, I didn’t believe anyone else in this world could possibly feel good about me either - certainly not enough to love me. And, yes, I turned away from things that reminded me of this love...including the rom-com movies and romance novels.

It has taken some time to learn and unlearn, feeling my way through the patterns of shame. Over time, I have been able to let go of some of the old energy and old wounds that I was holding onto. But, until I was able to realize that there could possibly be something else out there, another way to look at the world, I would stay stuck, and would continue to pretend that I didn't care about love.

We don’t need to keep living and reliving the same old stories. We can, in fact, have the happily ever after, the romance, the passion, the heat...all of it.

It’s not stupid, or bad, or crazy. It is, though, very powerful, very special, and very, very magical.

How does this land with you? Do you love a good romance, or have you turned away from love and passion as being possible for your life? Are you sitting back, longing for this, and not really believing it can happen?

Well, stop it! Know this - you can change this perception. Your reality can change, and it will - the minute you choose something better for your life. You don’t have to sit with the old, unworthy, unlovable, undesirable feelings, or keep reliving the same negative, low-vibe energy. You are bigger and greater than that. Me telling you this is only sort of helpful. I know. You need to feel it. Believe it. Adopt it into your reality.

Give yourself permission to love yourself enough to fall in love with your life.

So tell me: Where do you fall on the spectrum of feeling good enough and worthy of love? Do you need some help to see it? If you do, I have put together a mini self-love workbook, designed to get you thinking about some of the ways you hold yourself back from feeling that love, and how you can pivot and make that change. Grab it here.


You are never stuck. You are never lost. You are never alone. At any given moment, you can use your power to pivot, make a new choice, and start again!

To your journey, march forth!


P.S. If you are looking for a great romance novel, here are some that we are loving right now.

Check out these great reads by some of our favorite indie authors.

Passion, Reignited by

Jenny Olsen:

Death We Part by

Victoria Hyla Maldonado:

Darkness Turns to Dawn Turns to Daylight by

Golam Maula:

About the Author:

Elizabeth A. Miles is a coach, author, entrepreneur, and the founder of March Forth Media Company.

Elizabeth is on a mission to help independent creatives finish, publish, and promote their work, while launching a successful business as a creative entrepreneur.

She is the author of:

This Is Where You Pivot: The Shift from Fear to Freedom

The Journey to Healing: Love, Yourself

Connect You: A Guide to Your Authentic Life

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