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Resilience Exercise #10

Learn to Identify Your Emotional Triggers

You have likely been triggered if you react to a situation with an emotional reaction that is out of proportion to the event. …where a small thing someone else does or says leads to a BIG reaction on our part.  This is a trigger.

We are triggered when a situation reminds us of an emotional bruise. This situation is likely going to activate a feeling that is particularly painful for you to experience. That feeling will lead to you feeling disarmed and overwhelmed. Whether it is shame, anger, fear, rejection or other feelings, these triggered feelings likely are linked to previous painful experiences in your life.  

Triggers often lead to explosion or implosion. Typically, implosion looks like one is shutting down, running away, escaping through the use of drugs or alcohol or depression.  For others it leads to explosion or using anger to take control of others in the situation.

The key to dealing with triggers is to avoid imploding or exploding by turning on your internal emotional cooling system.  Your emotions are heating up and building an internal air conditioner is a necessity.  Learning to regulate your emotions like we regulate the heat in our house is a crucial skill to master for both children and adult.  Knowing what triggers you, can help you identify the times when we need to turn our AC on.

• Describe the event that upset you

• List all the emotions you feel

• Ask yourself what other emotion lies behind those I have already listed

• Ask yourself when in the past have I felt the same powerful emotion 

• Remind yourself that while you may have been to young or too vulnerable to deal with the event in the past, you are a stronger person now and this event does not have to overwhelm you

• Remind yourself that whomever or whatever triggered you in the present is different from the initial source of hurt and treat them separately. 

• Explore strategies to sooth yourself now that you have identified the emotions that are unsettling you. 

• Make a plan to address the triggering situation with the intention to create a positive and respectful outcome for everyone. 

• Celebrate your ability to manage your emotions. 

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For confidential discussion, call Manon Dulude at (905) 873-9393.