I'm sure most of you have heard the word trigger from time to time. It's an emotional event that rapidly sets off a chain reaction and causes you to respond without thinking. Your triggers can be linked to certain people or situations. They can be set off by a tone or a look. Perhaps you hate it when someone tells you what to do. Or maybe you over-react when a red light makes you a few minutes later than you wanted to be, or a few gray roots can drop you into a depression for the rest of the day.
Oh, and it’s not just the bad triggers that can drive your life down the wrong path! The smell of the ocean can create an instant feeling of bliss that keeps you from working on that assignment due tomorrow.
Good or bad, triggers are not the problem. The problem is caused if you react without thinking, positively or negatively. Most auto-responses like this can cause stress and flare-ups, they can ruin relationships and careers, and at the very least they leave you wondering, Do I really think like that? Why did I just do that?
The good news is you have the power to over-ride them. You can choose how you respond to them to steer your life in whatever direction you want it to go, and that means no longer do you have to live your life based on some 20 year-old memory that just will not let go.
If you want to manage your triggers, here are some tips:
First, simply become aware of what your triggers are. Meditation can help. It enables you to maintain a slightly detached position from the events of your life. With a healthy bit of detachment, you can observe your emotional responses to the world around you without feeling the need to get caught up in them. The next time you feel your blood pressure skyrocket, for instance, don’t just respond, make a note of what set you off.
Take a moment to figure out what caused you to spiral out of control. Next time you're in a more balanced place, take a look what triggered your emotions to race. Then take another moment to ask yourself how you would have liked to respond. Ask yourself what you would have done if you were to be the person you want to be. Make a note of both responses and think of this as creating a guide to living your life.
The next time you're triggered, stop, turn and walk away. I don’t just mean mentally, I mean physically. Put some physical space between you and whatever is setting you off. If the phone is ringing and you’re sure the person on the other end want to vent, don’t pick it up if you're not ready to talk. Give yourself a moment to reset your emotions and call that person later. Take a moment to slow the world down. You have the right and the ability to do that by walking away. Give yourself a few seconds to acknowledge the emotions within you, to acknowledge the trigger, and then LET GO.
Remind yourself that this is your life and you have a choice in how you're going to live it. You do not have to give that phone, that train, that red light, or that person with a snide look control over who you are and how you are going to live YOUR life. Yes, there is a way to address the triggers and unpeel them from your psyche, but that is something for a one-on-one.
So stop letting your ego and your 40,000 year old fight-or-flight brain keep running and ruining your life. Use your ability to slow the world down so that you can think, choose and do the right thing by simply walking away.
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