“Your whole life experience depends on your state of mind and state of emotion.
Learn to clear mind and heart to have a better life”
– Michaël –
Ever wonder why some people respond in the same destructive way over and over even though they keep getting the same bad results?
Many of us can relate to having unhealthy coping mechanisms and responses to things like stress, fear, or other agitating emotional states. Often, we are unaware of the subconscious processes going on and we may, for example, instinctively reach for an alcoholic beverage at the end of a long, hard day, never realizing we are setting ourselves for an addictive pattern that may one day claim our health, or possibly our life.
Addiction or other self-destructive behaviors or habits are learned responses to environmental and emotional triggers. You can un-learn these responses and create new ones, thus building a healthier way of engaging with the world, your emotional landscape, and your family and friends.
A trigger is simply a stimulus that arises upsetting feelings, which may lead to problematic behaviors. We all have triggers, and we all have unhealthy ways in which we deal with them. But, we have the power to stop our automatic responses and re-route. The challenge is learning to identify our triggers and then recognizing them when they are happening.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
– Viktor E. Frankl –
Often, our triggers are experiences, situations, or stressors that unconsciously remind us of past traumas or emotional upsets. They “re-trigger” traumas in the form of overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety, or panic.
The brain forms an association between the trigger and your response to it, so that every time that thing happens again, you do the same behavioral response to it. This is because
what fires together, wires together!
There are 2 types of triggers
We get stuck in negative emotions such as anger, sadness, or anxiety and react in extremely emotional ways — getting violent, yelling and screaming, withdrawing completely, etc…
We crave certain substances (food, sugar, alcohol, drugs, etc.)
This happens because the emotional pain triggers our habitual way of indulging in some kind of physical activity that we are using to suppress the emotion or dull the pain.
Take a sheet of paper and create three columns.
– Current Reaction
– New Response
write each one of your triggers. You can think of these as things that “push your buttons.”
list how you normally react when this button is pushed.
write what you could do as a conscious response instead of your normal reaction to it.
I’ll give you an example to make it easier for you to understand what I am saying here:
Trigger: When I feel that my spouse dismisses my comments or feelings about something
Current Reaction: I get angry and yell at him/her.
New Response: I’ll tell him/her my feelings were hurt.
Don’t get discouraged if you fall into your old reactions, as it takes time to learn new ways of being. Just keep practicing them, until, over time, they become your new habits. In this way, you are powerful in that you consciously own and choose how you respond to people, situations, and circumstances.
Life is full of triggers, know this. But, also know you have the choice and the power to respond to those triggers in ways that are healthy and achieve better outcomes. In this way, you transform your life for good.