We all experience a wide range of emotions in a single day and the feelings that we have often relate to specific events. Our responses to these experiences vary based on our relationship to the situation and our frame of mind!
When we notice our emotional response is severe and intense, regardless of your current mood, this can mean that you are experiencing an emotional trigger. While we all have different experiences and even unique ways that may we experience the same event or situation, there are many emotional triggers common for many people including: Financial problems, unjust treatment, challenged beliefs, loss of control, family friction, insecurity, aggressive-sounding noises, being judged, and the anniversary date of losses or trauma.
How to Identify Your Triggers:
Listen To Your Body!
Our bodies are constantly communicating with us. An important step in learning your triggers is to pay attention to the situations that generate a physical response in the body. Notice if you are experiencing physical symptoms (increased heart rate, tightening in the chest, upset stomach, shakiness, etc).
Create Space and Get Curious
When you notice surging emotions and/or a physical response in the body, create space to consider what just happened. You can work backwards by asking yourself: what do I feel? What did I experience to make me feel this way? What mood was I in before I experienced this?
Oftentimes the connection isn’t so clear. Rather than approaching the situation with judgement or suppressing the emotion, journal and use this tool to gain more insight to learn what is going on for you:
The emotional state you were in:
The situation that occurred:
The people involved:
The physical space you were in:
The thoughts you had:
Managing and Coping with Your Triggers:
Give Yourself Permission to Feel
Own your feelings! Remind yourself that it’s ok to feel whatever you’re feeling in that moment. We can’t control our emotions (just our reactions to them), so give yourself some compassion.
Implement Mindfulness Skills
Mindfulness exercises can help you learn to pay more attention to what you feel and experience in the PRESENT MOMENT. Also, when we are triggered the rational part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) shuts off. Using calming strategies can help calm the physical body, which allows us to gain access to rational thinking. These can include breathing exercises and grounding techniques.
Therapy can help you further break down the problem and obtain long term healing by processing difficult experiences, learning emotional regulation skills, and identifying toxic relationships.