5. What needs of yours were not being met?
Being emotionally triggered always goes back to not having one or more of our deepest needs/desires met. Take some time to think about which of your needs or desires are being threatened:
- Being liked
- Being needed
- Being right
- Being valued
- Being treated fairly
- Being in control
Reflect on what unmet needs/desires are constantly reappearing.
Looking out for and becoming aware of your body, thoughts, unmet needs/desires, and certain people or situations that set you off will help to prevent you from ‘acting out’ your emotions later.
What to Do Once You’ve Been Emotionally Triggered
Above I explored how to prevent yourself from being triggered … but what happens once you’ve already had a knee-jerk response to someone or something?
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There are a number of things you can do when you’re buried deep in extreme emotions like anger or fear.
Here is what I practice and recommend:
1. Remove your attention from the person or situation and focus on your breath.
So long as you’re alive, your breath is always there with you – it is solid and trustworthy, and therefore it is an excellent way to relax. Keep focusing on your in-breath and out-breath for a few minutes. If your attention goes back to the triggering person or situation, pull your attention back to your breathing.
2. Take a break.
Remove yourself from the situation. Walk away for five minutes and cool down. If you are speaking with someone, excuse yourself temporarily and say that you need to go to the bathroom or someplace else. Return when you are feeling more centered and calm.
3. Find the humor in the situation.
I’m aware that practicing this suggestion is not always possible, but you’d be surprised how much laughter and amusement lighten your perception. When I say find the humor in the situation, I don’t mean laughing, belittling or mocking others (or yourself). Instead, I mean looking at the situation as a whole from a bird’s eye perspective and finding the comicality of it.
4. Ask yourself why you’re being triggered.
Our emotional triggers have a way of blinding us, so to counteract that, be inquisitive. Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling so sad/angry/anxious?” Understanding why you’re being triggered will help you to regain a sense of calmness, self-awareness, and control.
5. Don’t bypass your feelings, but don’t act them out either.
Repressing or trying to “control” your feelings isn’t the answer, however, you can delay your emotions. For instance, if you’re feeling enraged by someone, instead of exploding at them, consciously set those feelings aside to experience and unleash later in a healthy way. You might choose to express this anger by screaming in your room or doing an intense anger-fuelled workout. Whatever the case, be very careful about repressing your emotions. There is a fine line between consciously delaying your emotions and unconsciously suppressing them – this is why it’s so important to practice the self-awareness tips I’ve mentioned in this article.
I hope that thanks to reading this article you’ll now be inspired to consciously explore your emotional triggers and prevent them from sabotaging your life.
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