We’ve all been there, I know I have. Something happens and it triggers an (often emotional) response within you.
It’s easy to blame the person doing the thing that triggered you for how you’re feeling. But the truth is that their action (or lack thereof) only pushed an already existing button.
So what does it mean when you are being triggered?
A trigger tells you that something in you is being provoked. That whatever was said or happened, triggered a response in you that feels unpleasant (to say the least).
The fact that you’re triggered indicates there’s pre-existing pain. That’s why your reaction to what happened is often out of proportion.
You are either very angry, hurt, frustrated, annoyed or sad. No matter how tempting it may be, these emotions are not an invitation to start yelling at the person or situation that pushed the button!
Though that may feel good (or inevitable) in the short run, it won’t take away the underlying reason why you’re so upset. And even when you’re alert enough to not lash out at someone, it’s important to let yourself feel the emotion first.
There’s no need to ignore what you’re feeling or push it away—in fact, that’s very unhealthy. So allow yourself to be with what you’re feeling. Cry, yell at the wall, hug yourself. Do what’s needed to allow yourself to express what you’re feeling.
Once you feel calmer, I invite you to be conscious of how you respond and get clear on what you can learn from this situation.
First, I believe that the fact you are triggered is an invitation to look inside yourself to see what in you is being touched. You can get clarity on that by journaling this question:
What in me is awakened or touched by this situation?
Simply write down whatever comes to mind and write stream of consciousness (as in: don’t overthink it and trust what you’re getting).
You may stumble upon earlier, similar situations where you felt the same. Getting clear on what it is that you’re feeling might be helpful as well.
If you feel hurt, is it because:
- You don’t feel seen.
- Someone crossed a boundary.
- You don’t feel taken seriously
- Someone didn’t do what they promised.
- You feel excluded.
Getting clear on the underlying emotion is a great first step towards healing that scar.
Because triggers are always tied to scars. Something that isn’t yet (fully) healed. Because if it were healed, you might simply notice someone overstepping your boundary without getting all worked up about it.
Step two: once you feel calmer (grounding might help here as well!), only then do I recommend communicating what you would like to see done differently or sharing how the situation impacted you.
Because if you’ve taken the time to dive deeper and started the healing work, then you’ll be less emotional in your response. Not only will that yield better results, but there is no point dumping your emotional baggage on someone else. That only leads to (yucky) vicious circles.
And I’m sure you know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of someone else spouting their anguish all over the place. Never a fun experience—not for anyone.
So next time you feel triggered allow yourself to pause and do some inner work before you respond!
This is something I’ve learned to do over time. And though it’s not always fun while you’re doing the work, it’s so helpful and freeing moving forward. Because the more triggers you heal, the less triggered (and happier) you’ll be!
Have a day full of energy and inspiration 🙂
PS If you want to dive deeper into the effect of your emotions then my book Radiant: How to Have All the Energy You Need to Live a Life You Love might be great for you.