Let’s be honest, it’s probably the recently past holiday season that’s inspiring me to write about triggers. We all have them. I’m guessing that when you combine family, food, alcohol and never ending Christmas music, most of us are bound to get triggered! I’d bet that getting triggered is a part of life for anyone who spends any time around other people. Getting triggered can be a complete disaster or no big deal at all. It all depends on how we respond. Think about it, if someone is constantly getting triggered and reacts with major emotional outbursts to every one, they may not have a lot of success functioning in our society. Why we get triggered by some things and not by others is a bit of a mystery. It can childhood experiences, upsetting events in life, or just plain old pet peeves!
If your goal is not let triggers impact your life in any meaningful way, then the key is to have little or no reaction to the triggering event. In order to accomplish that, you must first dive into some self-awareness. The first step is recognize when you are being triggered. It’s generally a physiological reaction, so notice what’s going on in your body. For me, my face gets hot, breathing gets short, and I lose any sense of patience immediately. Noticing what happens in your body when you’re being triggered can help you figure out why someone’s seemingly innocent comment or action has made you feel furious out of nowhere. I am also able to notice that I am completely over-reacting to situation. I’ll say to myself, “that wasn’t a big deal, why am so angry all of a sudden?!” That’s one way I know I’m being triggered.
The next step is to monitor and control your reactions to being triggered. Once you’ve been able to identify the feelings that are associated with your triggers, what is your reaction going to be? If you’re like most of us, you’d like your reaction to be something along the lines of flipping over the nearest table doing your best impression of the Hulk. However, if that is your response, you may not keep jobs or friends too easily. Another common response is the passive aggressive approach. This is when you keep all your anger and irritation on the inside, and respond with a calm, well thought out comment that you know will really upset the person triggering you. What about a new approach? The next time you get triggered, try first acknowledging that what’s happening to you by being aware of your physiological responses. Then make a conscious choice to keep calm and come up with an appropriate response that you won’t regret later.
If you are still having issues with triggers and feel like you need a little extra help, please reach out! I would love to talk to you.