How To Identify Your Emotional Triggers Through Everyday Problems
Everybody has one of those days when so many things tend to go wrong, and life makes you want to pull your hair out or run screaming to the nearest bar. But what if I told you that these emotional triggers were actually a good thing…?
Don’t start shaking your head just yet.
I’m not talking necessarily about intense events that trigger us like being broke or failing to get the promotion you thought you were a shoe-in for or breaking up with the love of your life. Though the method I’m about to share with you to identify emotional triggers is super powerful when it comes to these issues as well).
I’m talking about everyday triggering annoyances: a driver cuts you in line, a cyclist takes the whole lane and forces you to drive at their pace, a rude cashier at your local grocers who seems to have forgotten how to smile.
What if I told you these small irritations that you take personally, were actually pointers to parts of our inner selves which we are oblivious to? Yes – these emotional triggers are your teachers.
Stay with me and I will explain how triggering scenarios or people we deal with every day are actually perfect opportunities that can give you a glimpse into your inner programming.
What Are Emotional Triggers
First of all, let’s establish what a ‘trigger’ is.
Basically, if anything raises a resistance within you, annoys you, or raises ANY negative emotion in you, it can be considered as an emotional trigger.
Now, instead of pushing against your daily challenging triggers, you will do much better if you use them for self-discovery, by bringing the focus back to yourself.
Here’s an example of how to use emotional triggers for self-growth:
Many years ago, a friend of mine confided in me about her dislike for a particular colleague at work, “I can’t stand her,” she said, “She gets on my nerves!”
You know me — I couldn’t just nod and give an understanding smile. Being a personal development junkie, I felt I needed to share some insight about her emotional triggers, especially since I knew she was one who would listen.
It was already clear to me that her resentment towards her colleague was an indication of things about herself which she didn’t like. But because it sucks to admit to our own faults, we tend to spot them in others and take our frustrations out on them.
“So… what is it about her you don’t like?” I asked.
“She seems very fake! The way she talks… carries herself— her words don’t align with who she really is,” my friend replied, “It seems like she wears a mask, acting like a bigshot when she is nowhere near as confident as she pretends to be.”
“I see,” I responded. “And her fakeness makes you angry, why?”
“I just don’t like inauthentic people!” My friend replied finally.
“Yes, but why the anger?” I persisted. “Does she reflect aspects of yourself which you don’t like? Maybe YOU’RE THE ONE who feels phony sometimes and you just can’t stand her behavior because you see it in yourself?”
A long silence followed before the tears started flowing, “Thanks Edith, you’re right. I hate the times I appear to be someone I’m not at work; when I feel like a bluff, presenting a strong image though I feel small inside. And I guess she shows me the parts of me which I dislike and that triggers me.”
In the end, the things we judge in others are things within ourselves which we would rather not face. The emotional triggers we experience reflect something in us that is not solved yet.
These unaddressed issues are deeply rooted in our subconscious minds. Eventually, we ended up forming paradigms we’re not even aware of, that control every result we have and will have in life.
Our Relationships and Social Interactions Reveal Our Emotional Triggers
Here’s the deal: your difficulties are here to foster growth. In that light, you can see your triggers as a blessing in disguise.
When you find external circumstances triggering an intense reaction, instead of lashing out, you can ask yourself, “What does it trigger within me that I need to face?” This simple question is the starting process for identifying, understanding, and conquering emotional triggers.
Usually, the situation is triggering you to see something in you which you have been oblivious to.
These unpleasant emotional triggers show fragments of yourself that you don’t love. If you were really complete with these aspects of your psyche, you wouldn’t be reactive or bothered by this.
Most people do the opposite of self-reflecting: they blame! They take it personally and miss the opportunity to evolve and reveal hidden pieces about themselves.
If you’re a very sensitive person, like me, or you tend to take things to heart, choosing to observe rather than react can make a world of difference.
Some things trigger me like crazy! So I get upset or angry in a situation, I say to myself, “Great! More stuff to discover. Let’s see what else I can learn about myself”.
Be Specific About Your Emotions
That’s what you should concentrate on, not the circumstance nor the person who said XYZ, nor the taxi driver who gave you the finger.
Concentrate on how YOU feel.
Focus on the mental triggers, and not on the conditions themselves that induce triggering sensations.
If you keep practicing this every single time you are triggered, you will dig deeper and deeper and get to really understand yourself. Eventually, you will uncover your emotional blockages and heal them.
Ideally, you want to become so rooted in your center that it doesn’t matter what happens on the outside. Whatever happens wouldn’t faze you one bit; because you are in the zen. That’s the goal.
Remember, everything is a mirror and that is why you need to bring back the attention to you. Your emotional triggers are ALWAYS about you, never about them. Experiencing unpleasant emotions in different situations is basically a mirror to help you learn the parts in you that require attention.
Additional Examples of Emotional Triggers
You will be surprised about what you can learn about yourself once you choose to acknowledge your personal pain points rather than react when you are facing obstacles life throws at you.
• Maybe your boss is a jackass — what can you take in from the anxiety trigger when you think about your supervisor? Do you find you are terrified of conflicts? Unable to set boundaries? Does it trigger unworthiness when you are not being appreciated at work? Does it trigger fear when people are angry at you?
• Maybe you’re having a rough time in traffic — does it trigger emotions of anger and frustration? Do you find you have an obsessive need to control and find it difficult to let go? Are you never pleased with a situation? Do you always look for what’s missing? Or do you find you are unable to enjoy the moment and relax? constantly looking for what’s next — and that triggers a sense of urgency?
• Maybe your neighbor holds political views that are different from yours, and this freaks you out — what does that tell you about you? Do you find you can’t tolerate diverse opinions? Do you feel personally slighted, attacked, or diminished by contrary views? Maybe the opposing views trigger memories of a time when you felt rejected or had your sense of self-threatened or destroyed?
In Summary – Mind Your Own Business
Pay attention to the fingers that point back at you whenever you point at someone. Be curious about yourself and be curious about your underlying conditioning.
In other words, mind your own business. Explore your emotional triggers instead of avoiding your pain or immersing yourself in the situation. You will gain true freedom when you start directing your attention to your own personal development.
Imagine if all those who trigger discomfort in you simply looked inside and worked on their own issues that require healing. Wouldn’t you agree that the world would be a better place?
Imagine what your childhood would have been like if your parents had worked on their psychological triggers before bringing you into the world.
The same goes for you.
Bring back the focus to yourself by acknowledging the emotional triggers. By doing this, you will remove your attention from other people. Their “flaws”, their “imperfections”, and all the things they are doing “wrong”.
And by so doing, you will tune into a real peace of mind and find fewer reasons to go nuts whenever life gets in the way.