Managing Your Triggers
Whenever your brain is reminded of a painful experience or a strong desire that feels out of reach, you will experience a trigger. The whole incident is so quick that we completely lose our connection with the present moment. Our physiological responses take over and our body instantly moves into a state or fight, flight or freeze. Many of us are extremely conditioned to feeling endangered by our triggers. So much that, by nature, our brain becomes more susceptible to being on the lookout for danger.
Managing the triggers that incite currents of emotions within us is necessary. Our knee-jerk reactions are the results of emotional triggers which can assume great magnitude. Whenever we feel triggered, our immediate response is to reject the other person and to defend our sense of self and safety. Emotional triggers are commonly the main cause of relationship, friendship or family breakdowns. The egoic-mind completely takes over and we become possessed with a desire to prove ourselves “right or good” and the other person as “wrong or bad”. This can in turn lead to much suffering and pain. Therefore, it is crucial to understand our emotional triggers in order to learn how to better manage them.
Identify your needs
Whenever you get triggered, it’s because you have a need that you think is not being met. These needs can be anything from being accepted, being right, being in control, receiving attention, feeling included and having autonomy to feeling free, at peace, safe and in balance. In order to understand these triggers better you have to identify which need/needs are not being met. Which need triggers a reaction in you and why? This self-reflection activity requires your absolute honesty.
We all have needs. As children we learn to have our needs met by others. It’s a form of survival. We need others to meet our basic needs for food, shelter and love and belonging in order for us to feel safe and to survive this world. However as we grow older we develop an attachment to this way of existing. We start to make everything about ourselves and our needs. Needs are not necessarily bad. However, if we remain unconscious of our needs and how they can lead to reactive triggers within us, we will risk creating a strong attachment to them. We may become attached to having control or to always feeling included and the centre of attention. In turn, whenever you end up in situations where these needs are not being met, you start to experience a trigger. Your brain will develop of a habit of always being on the lookout for circumstances that deny you your needs. The unmet needs become a form of threat and in turn an emotional trigger.
Choose to grow from your triggers
Triggers are an opportunity for growth. They are spiritual insights into ourselves and our internal egoic world. They show you that you’re not trusting the universe, you’re not trusting yourself and you’re not trusting others. You’re afraid. Your ego is in control. You’re completely oblivious to your soul strength, your individuality and your worthiness. In order not to get controlled by our triggers, we need to rewire and reprogram our brain. When you realise that you have the power of choice, then you are truly able to accept yourself as powerful as opposed to a victim. You no longer need another person to confirm you nor to meet a need within you. Your sense of self is so strong that it no longer feels threatened. At your core, you know who you are hence why you no longer feel a desire to prove it to others nor to receive acknowledgement for it by others.
Journal your way through your triggers
Journaling is a great tool to commence a practice of self-inquiry. Self-reflection is key to growth and insight. Ask yourself; “Am I really losing this needs? Is this situation really threatening my ability to have this need met? Or is this just a habitual thought that I am feeling attached to? Can I meet my need myself? Or do I need to let go of my desire to have this need met right now? Does it really matter that I have this need met right now?
Other great tools are speaking with a trained therapist, reading self-help books and implementing a daily meditation routine where you can become conscious of your mental chatter and eventually silence it. Meditation is key in helping us gain further insight into our habitual thoughts and responses. Regularly practicing relaxing the body and the mind through breathing techniques will train the body in releasing the tension in your body. Meditation is also a helpful tool in helping you detach your mind from all thoughts, to centre yourself and to focus better.
Our triggers are our teachers. Whenever we start to embrace them as such, we can gain profound insights into ourselves and in turn our power.
Sarah is a Psychotherapist, Mental Health Social Worker, Art Therapist, Artist and Writer. She is also the Practice Manager at Mental Awakening.