Triggers

Much like a loaded gun, we are all equipped with one or more triggers that can set us off into a spiral of thoughts or actions that build up or haunt us from our past. 

You might recognize some of the results of being triggered...irritation, anger, sadness, rejection, fear.  

We play into the moment or situation and history repeats itself and then adding this to the plethora of previous interactions that are our triggers.   

I've had the pleasure of facing several situations that have gotten the best of me.  Some of them are predictable and get me each time, others are surprising and seem to come out of no where.  

Whether I'm answering the same question five times in a row, someone jumping on my tail in traffic or cutting me off to drive slower than the speed limit, or the customer service center putting me on hold for another 15 minutes and I need help NOW -   I get that familiar feeling, my chest tightens, my breathing gets faster, and my brain starts to get fuzzy and races through possible responses. 

I hear my sanity voice instructing me and begging "don't say it" or "no you don't want to do that, it will make it worse" and my personal fave "be the bigger person".  

Oh sanity voice, you are no fun at all.  What's a a few words or a finger to let someone know they will not be getting the last laugh?

It depends, do I want my boys to hear those words or see that finger and have to explain to them what they mean.  Not really.  Do I want to hold on to someone else's bitterness and let them send forth their poisonous and mean ripples through me?   Not really.  Do I want to clean up the mess and waste money, after throwing the computer across the room.  As satisfying as it would feel, not really. 

The following are five ways to get a grip on those triggers before you explode:

1.  STOP - Just stop whatever you planned on saying or doing.  Just stop.

2. Breath - Science shows that when we are triggered into fight or flight mode the brain is getting less oxygen.  Our body begins to take shallow breaths getting oxygen to the muscles faster but reducing the full exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Slow deep breaths through the nose, filling the lower diaphragm can result in decreased heart rate and blood pressure allowing greater oxygen for the brain to function and think through situations properly.  

3. Ask - What is in my control right now?  Me.  Nothing and no one else, but my own self and thoughts are in my control.  Why do I want to give that up?  What would happen if I gave that up?

4. Realize - Choice.  They are not making me do anything.  My reaction is my choice and is a reflection of me and not of what someone said or did to me.  I choose.  

5. Reflect - Why did that bother me? What was it about that person or moment that got to me? Was I reminded of a trait I dislike in myself, did something happen that reminded me of another embarrassing/irritating/sad/frustrating/(fill in the blank) moment?

We act so fast in the moment and don't always take time to reflect.  There have been some great aha moments for me as I've realized the root of some of my triggers and have been able to walk away as the champion of my self, not always letting someone or something get the best of me.  

I would love to hear from you in the comment section...

How could reflecting vs. reacting to triggers benefit you?