How To Identify Your Triggers And Learn From Them

September 15, 20225 min read

What triggers you? What causes you anxiety, fear, or stress? An emotional trigger is is anything — including memories, experiences, or events — that sparks an intense emotional reaction, regardless of your current mood.

Triggers are habitual emotional reactions which we unconsciously perform in response to some stimuli. They can be environmental, interpersonal, or even self-induced. Emotionally triggered triggers tend to develop over time, and for some people, there appears to be a specific set of triggers, which are repeated over again. These are known as emotional triggers. As the name implies, emotional triggers are the ones which set off a series of reactions, irrespective of their rational basis.

So, how do we recognize emotional triggers? In reality, there are actually no clear-cut rules that could provide us with a guide in this regard. Different people react to different situations in different ways. It is only the observation of repeated patterns, which could help us to discern whether our reactions are controlled by our conscious or unconscious mind. But there are some general categories of emotional triggers which most of us could probably recognize.

When we get upset, it could mean that our body has been exposed to an injury or attack. It could also mean that our environment has contributed to our irritation or stress. The first category covers common irritants which include odors, sounds, food, and even television programs which we may find very disturbing. The second category covers less obvious triggers like violence, pollution, and other harmful environmental factors that may contribute to our irritation. In case of the third category, like violence in the home, the possibility of abuse may be considered.

Anger and passion are the commonest triggers for many of us. We get easily angered when someone does something wrong to us or does not behave in a suitable manner. We are also prone to passion when we feel insecure or threatened. Sometimes, we may react negatively to the smallest provocation which makes us appear to be irrational. Our reactions to such triggers usually affect us physically as well as emotionally.

However, emotional triggers can also affect our mental health. For instance, if we constantly worry about an upcoming exam, we will find it very difficult to concentrate on a regular basis. Stress is another major contributor to poor mental health. Emotional triggers which involve the self can manifest as depression, lack of concentration, and even psychosis.

Certain traumatic events may also trigger our psychological responses. Triggers could be related to various types of abuses that were perpetrated against us. Some of the most common traumas that trigger psychological disorders include childhood sexual abuse and rape. Moreover, some traumatic events in our lives include natural calamities such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes caused by nuclear weapons testing. We may also develop post-traumatic stress disorder after receiving a shock when witnessing a horrible accident.

There are different triggers for different people. This means that we may not be able to identify all the possible triggers in our life. The important thing is that we should try to figure out our own triggers so that we can avoid the ones that bring about negative emotional states. It is not enough to try to ignore the triggers as this is usually ineffective because we tend to rely too much on ourselves to survive. We have to realize that we need help from professionals and from other people as well. If you suspect that you are suffering from a psychological disorder, you should seek medical help at once.

Here’s how to learn from your triggers:

1. Feel into the emotion and the sensations

Along with the emotion, there are sensation in the body, bring your awareness into the sensations. Allow yourself to just pay attention. Try not to label it or react to it. Just acknowledge and breathe.

2. Go into observation mode

We have been in a subconscious habit of reacting to our triggers. In the beginning observing the trigger will feel almost impossible. Practice speaking out the sensations and emotions even if it doesn’t make sense or feels weird. Every time you observe your reaction, remember how challenging it is and acknowledge your ability to navigate this trigger differently. As you practice, the pathways of the brain will change and you’ll be less inclined to go into habitual reaction.

3. Celebrate your progress

Use this affirmation as often as needed. Breathe and say this while connecting to the emotion of gratitude “I am grateful for this emotion and what it can teach me.” No matter what the emotion is or where it came from, it is here and we can be grateful for it and our ability to see it, feel it and work with it. Remember you are not your emotions, you are a person who has emotions.

4. Create a new relationship to your emotions

With some presence and practice you will begin to see how your ideas around emotions are shifting. You become lighter and more willing to have a different emotional experience. Each time this is practiced you become more aware of your own behaviors, habits and thoughts. Self-awareness will be your reward.

5. Let Go

Practice self-care and allow yourself to process and move forward based on your needs. Let your intuition be your ally in letting go of when you need to explore and learn.

P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you increase your sense of self-worth so you can say “no” use your voice, stand up for yourself, and feel more confident:

1. Listen to The Bold Survivor Podcast

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Contessa Akin

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