Throughout any given day, you probably experience a range of emotions — joy, excitement, anxiousness, frustration, disappointment — all dependent on situations and events that occur during the day. And sometimes, you may experience intense emotional reactions – known as emotional triggers – that are sparked by specific experiences or memories, regardless of your current mood.

We all have and experience emotional triggers, and learning to first identify yours will then help you to find ways to manage, cope with and heal from your unique emotional triggers.

Emotions of all kinds are a natural and necessary part of our human experience, and acknowledging all of our feelings and the range of emotions we may experience even in a short time period is vital to being our resilient and authentic selves. How you handle all those emotions can give you insight into your emotional wellness — your ability to successfully cope with life’s stressors and adapt to change and difficult times.

There are several actionable ways to build up your emotional wellness and resilience and learn to manage your emotional triggers. Let’s explore these 5 ways to manage your emotional triggers:

  1. Identify and learn to recognize your triggers. A key first step is to understand which situations, circumstances or events trigger those intense feelings. These vary from person to person and can range from uncomfortable topics, rejection, challenged beliefs, and being excluded or ignored, to criticism, feeling smothered or helpless and more.
  2. Be honest with yourself. Your body can let you know long before your mind recognizes that you’re in distress. When you feel that familiar feeling – your heart pounding, palms getting sweaty, adrenaline pumping through your body, foot tapping and your mind on edge – you are feeling the signs your body is sending that your stress level has gone through the roof. Think back — where did that intense response come from? What happened that gave you those big feelings? Try following those feelings back to their origin to determine the root cause. Trusting yourself to withhold judgment can give you the space to manage your triggers.
  3. Acknowledge the feelings of discomfort and anxiousness. Sitting in your feelings can be extremely uncomfortable, absolutely. But there’s a value in learning yourself and understanding how and why you feel so intensely so that you may better navigate those potential emotional triggers. It’s 100 percent ok and normal to feel however you feel. Accepting those feelings rather than ignoring them allows you to take back control.
  4. Communicate. When you’re experiencing intense, heightened emotions, it may feel difficult to communicate. But if a friend, colleague, or loved one has triggered you, you both deserve a chance to talk it through so it does not continue to happen, taking a toll on your relationship. First, take a moment to calm yourself if necessary and gather your thoughts. It’s important to communicate clearly what has happened so they can understand how you’re feeling. You may also choose to journal your thoughts, or try speaking to a professional to help you explore your triggers and learn new ways to express your emotions.
  5. Build up your resilience. Some people can survive just about anything life throws at them — and even thrive through difficult times. Learning how to be resilient and “bounce back” after adversity is a practiced effort in coping with life’s challenges. Be flexible and willing to learn more about how you can help yourself through these tough times. Stop negative patterns and actively shift your emotional state in order to be more empowered and resilient.
Identifying, managing and confronting our triggers may feel daunting, but these are critical steps toward genuine healing. The path to true recovery involves recognizing our own unique triggers, being honest with ourselves, acknowledging the discomfort, communicating and building up our resilience. By engaging in this process, we can emerge stronger and more empowered, freeing ourselves from the grip of triggers with newfound resilience.

5 Ways to Manage Your Emotional Triggers