Have you ever wondered why someone’s actions, comments or behavior may cause strong feelings to rise within you? Feelings such as anger, stress, anxiety, shame or pain?
That my friend is called emotional triggers. It might not be a big deal to someone else, but to you it sets you off, steals your peace and puts you in an inward turmoil. Triggers vary from person to person and can be expressed either internally causing you to shut down, or outwardly causing you to lash out. We all suffer differently.
Where do emotional triggers come from?
They come from unpleasant memories of people, places, and events. Anything that reminds you of a past traumatic experience. These memories are ingrained in your brain and when triggered, they evoke strong emotions and feelings that may cause you to behave differently. Some situations may cause your emotions to stir up without even knowing why.
These memories or unconscious beliefs are also known as emotional patterns. They are habits of defensive reactions to past events in a present time. They reveal the nature of how someone conforms to a set of actions. Like how he thinks, behaves and “feels” its way through life.
What are some emotional triggers?
- Abuse (physical or emotional)
What are some reactions to emotional triggers?
- I feel angry
- I feel stressed, anxious
- I feel needy
- I feel insecure
- I become a people-pleaser
- I shut down and withdraw myself
- I blame others for my pain
- I feel judged or critiqued
- I feel controlled
- I feel smothered
These strong feelings can also lead to addictions such as food, drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, shopping, work, gambling, etc. If you relate to any of these responses, how do you feel about them? Is the pain going away just because you try to avoid it? Of course not. It might subside temporarily, but if not dealt with, the sad truth is you may even end up in more pain.
I encourage you to be honest with yourself about your triggers and how you react to them. Even if this might be hard, it will help you learn to be more compassionate with yourself. Thinking honestly about your triggers is the only way to eventually heal them.
How to practically deal with emotional triggers?
The first step is to become aware when you are triggered, when the emotion or feeling is passing through your body. Acknowledge that you are emotionally disturbed. Below are some practical ways known to help in managing your emotional state.
- Deep breathing
- Keep a journal
- Recognizing patterns
- Keep your peace
- Work with a coach or therapist
Working on reflecting, self-awareness, recognizing the patterns of your emotional triggers and managing them, will help for the future. You will be able to regain your peace faster and choose wisely how to react and respond.
I have a free worksheet for you to download. If applied, it will help in your journey to recover emotional health and balance: Emotional Triggers – What pushes my buttons?
Trust confidently in the Lord forever (He is your fortress, your shield, your banner),
for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock (the Rock of Ages)”