Throughout any given day, you probably experience a full 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.
- 1. 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. Sometimes you know when a situation causes you to feel stress, but you don’t necessarily identify that situation as a “trigger.” However, by identifying what caused you to feel how you feel, you can then learn to see these triggers coming and better manage them before they take hold.
- 2. Pay attention to your body. 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 – think back: where did that intense response come from? Try following those feelings back to their origin to determine the root cause.
- 3. Acknowledge and communicate. 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. 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.
- 4. Learn how to be resilient. 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. By engaging in this process, we can emerge stronger and more empowered, freeing ourselves from the grip of triggers with newfound resilience.