Updated: Oct 28, 2021
What's covered: What it means to be "triggered", PLUS 5 steps to radically change the way you deal with life triggers that create anxiety, anger, sadness or fear
Life grenades, that's what I call them.
You can be happily going about your day, and then *BOOM*! A person, place, situation or thought has completely "triggered" you.
It could be a person cutting you off in traffic, a flippant comment from your boss, a friend's social media post, a call from your Mum or even your partner leaving crumbs on the kitchen bench.
These seemingly small occurrences can elicit a BIG almighty reaction!
When it comes to mental, emotional and physical triggers you have two choices:
1. Ignore these disguised life lessons and allow these triggers to become grenades in your life; regularly going off, causing untold carnage, damaging you and your closest relationships.
2. You learn how to defuse triggers; you learn how to gently and lovingly unpack these little "life landmines," so you can flick the switch from the disempowered Why does this keep happening to me? to the empowered I've been triggered and I know how to get the good guts from it!
What is a trigger and how do they work? Triggered is actually a really apt name for it, because the situation triggers (i.e. sets off or initiates) a whole spectrum of emotions, feelings and body sensations that are often disproportionate to the situation, such as: intense anger, frustration, annoyance, sadness, overwhelm, judgement, dissatisfaction, fear, anxiety or stress.
In short: You are triggered whenever you are not at ease in yourself. And when you've been triggered, it can feel like you've been completely kicked off your axis or your point of balance.
Trigger-happy HOT ZONES and common emotional triggers: family, work, friends, kids, in-laws, exes, health issues or even dealing with those daily nasty-pants thoughts in your head.
(Man, this email is starting to trigger me, because I feel like there is so much I could say, but not enough space to write it!)
What you can do when you've been triggered - 5 steps to help you identify your triggers, so you can start healing your life and your relationships:
1. Say it aloud
If you've been triggered, then I want you to say it aloud, even if it's to yourself: This (person / place / situation / thought) has triggered me.
When you say it aloud, you're acknowledging it, you're starting to take ownership. Also, it subdues the ego, the voice in your head that's telling you that you're completely justified in your reaction. And really watch that sneaky ego, because it loves to mentally guide you through a Rolodex of other people's (or your own) past misdemeanours for extra justification ammunition.
2. "It's not you, it's me"
This statement couldn't be more true in terms of triggers. When something crappy happens to us or we feel an emotion that we don't like, often our first instinct is to blame. We want to direct the attention outwards and away from us: "He did this..." or "I wouldn't feel this way if she hadn't..."
The blame game helps no one. Take your power back! If you've been triggered then this is about no one but YOU. There might be a part of you that's thinking... You don't understand! His / her actions were horrible! That may be, but if your attention is focused on someone else and you are fixated on what they're doing then your power is with them, not with you.
3. Dig deeper (much deeper!)
The surface details are rarely - if ever - what's really going on. Keep asking yourself: What's this really about? You know you're starting to hit gold when there's a shift in focus from "He / She / They" to "I" (aka ME, MYSELF and I).
Surface trigger: He didn't reply to my text. He's so disorganized and inconsiderate!
A deeper, more accurate reflection: I don't like not knowing what's happening; it makes me feel like I'm not in control of the situation.
4. Reframe it
Flip the situation. Look at it from completely fresh perspectives. Ask yourself: What can I learn from this trigger? How can this situation empower me or motivate me to create positive change?
Trigger: My boss keeps calling me at all hours, and it drives me crazy!
Reframed: I need to establish firmer boundaries and tell my boss I'm not available to take work-related calls after 6pm.
Trigger: I've had a fallout with my entire family.
Reframed: I'm now completely free to do what I want to do without a sense of family obligation, pressures or expectation.
5. Get practical - log it
It's time to get your spiritual hands dirty, because oftentimes when it comes to spiritual stuff, there's a lot more conceptual talk than practical action! This next step is about logging it. That is, I want you to create a Trigger Record - fun, huh?
There's no need for long and winding journal entries. I'm talking about concisely recording your triggers in a notebook or on your phone, and summing up the trigger in 1-2 sentences. Why? You'll soon start to see repeated patterns or issues. Also, keeping it short and snappy stops you from engaging in detail-laden, BS blame stories.
Trigger Record example: My partner looked totally disinterested and didn't listen to me when I was talking about this incredible blog I'd just read about triggers. ;-)
Put away the knuckle dusters
I'm not talking about beating up others, I'm talking about metaphorically beating up yourself! I already know you're waaay too hard on yourself. How? Because people who are insincere, life lazy and don't give a crap about others would NOT bother to read a blog about triggers.
If you're reading this, then you're willing to be triggered so you can learn and grow. You are already doing amazing work. So please, go easy on yourself.
Feeling really triggered by this blog? If you'd like someone to grab a shovel and dig deeper with you, then please click here to tee-up an appointment. :-)
Triggers are deeply revealing and POWERFULLY transformative - if you know how to use them!
Keep listening to your body and trusting your wise self,
P.S. Sometimes we have to sort through the crap to get to the GOLD - ready?!
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