How To Tame Triggers

Getting triggered is part of being human.

Because our primitive survival brain is programmed to think negative thoughts first in order to keep us safe and secure, no matter the circumstance, we’re going to feel annoyed, frustrated, irritated, angry, and even enraged.

Something or someone is going to flip our lid, pop our cork, or trip our trigger.

Like when…

…a driver cuts you off in traffic.

…your credit card’s declined at the grocery store…and there’s a line of people staring at you.

…you get slammed on your performance evaluation.

…you miss your flight…and it’s the last one going out for the day.

…your alarm doesn’t go off…and you’re late for work.

…you step on the scale and discover that you’ve gained 4 pounds.

Your heart races. Your trigger finger twitches.

In our fast-paced world of overflowing, tight schedules, we live on high-alert every day, all day.

It’s no wonder we’re anxious, jumpy, and overwhelmed.

We’re constantly waiting for the signal, “Incoming!”

Living Triggered

I lived triggered and on edge for most of my life and would emotionally unravel at the drop of a hat.

I lived in fight or flight mode, on-guard, poised and ready to react.

I had a quick trigger finger that would fly off the handle, overreact, snap, and turn myself, and others, inside out.

Usually, a flying object was involved.

I’d collapse into a puddle of tears, exhausted and humiliated, with a pounding headache; not something I’m proud of, yet it was the reality of how I lived under pressure.

Yet living with the pressure of daily life doesn’t have to unravel us.

We don’t have to turn our nervous system inside out.

By learning how to navigate everyday stressful circumstances, we can respond with ease without living triggered.

Here’s how.

How To Tame Triggers

Here are 4 simple steps to practice the next time you get triggered.

1. Pause

Be fully in the present, mindfully.

Stop everything and be in the moment.

The very act of pausing the react button shifts us into low gear, slows us down, and tunes us into the present.

2. Breathe

Breathe fully, slowly, and completely.

Conscious breathing is the glue between your mind and body.

It keeps you connected while regulating your emotional state; anxiety and fear ease when we breathe into them, fully.

When we breathe fully into strong emotions, such as anxiety and fear, they transform into excitement, eagerness, exhilaration, and even enthusiasm.

It’s when we hold our breath, such as when we gasp, that uncomfortable emotions increase and vibrate even stronger.

3. Feel

Feel every emotion that vibrates through your body.

By experiencing every emotion, even the anxious, fearful, angry, and guilty emotions, you will strengthen your ability to feel all your emotions, realize that you can handle every emotion, and discover that all emotions are okay to feel.

This notion that we’re not supposed to feel strong, uncomfortable, difficult emotions is simply not true.

As humans, we’re designed to feel comfortable emotions and uncomfortable emotions; it’s a 50/50 deal.

4. Notice

Witness with curiosity, fascination, and yes, even humor.

As you notice, keep breathing and begin to wonder about what’s triggering you.

Observe your thoughts, feelings, actions, and those of others, with fascination, compassion, and curiosity.

Give yourself permission to be amazed.

Most often, triggers hold insightful opportunities for growth, awareness, and expansion; that is, if we pause and explore them with compassion.

Noticing also opens our heart, invites playfulness and even laughter, and creates space for unconditional love with a smile.

Our mind and body relax, we soften and we feel better.

Pause – Breathe – Feel – Notice

Honestly, I can’t tell you how much this process helps me calm triggers, feel more at ease, and experience more joy in my work, relationships, and life.

And even when my humanness gets triggered from time to time, I’m so much more in-tune with my mind and body and flow with ease through most of life’s circumstances.

So the next time you get triggered, and you will, try these 4 simple trigger taming steps: pause, breathe, feel, and notice.

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