emotional triggers

Did something tick you off? 5 strategies to manage emotional triggers

Just about everyone has some emotional triggers, though they might look a little different from person to person.
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Picture this. You are trying to have a conversation with your colleagues but your words fall on deaf ears. No one shows interest in what you have to say. All of a sudden, your mood changes. You feel anxious, tense even. You want to yell but instead, you suppress your emotions and walk away. It’s the only way you can stop yourself from spewing your frustration. Later, when you are at home, sitting comfortably on your sofa, you look back and wonder what ticked you off.

Well, it may have happened because someone said or did something that surfaced a painful feeling. In short, ticked you off emotionally. When that happens, you can feel a surge of emotions, from hurt and pain to anger and fear taking control over your behaviour. The emotional wounds of your past that haven’t yet healed begin to flare up.

According to Healthline, “an emotional trigger is anything—including memories, experiences, or events—that sparks an intense emotional reaction, regardless of your current mood.” It could be anything from a tone of voice to a bad joke or rude behaviour. But one thing is clear. It is something that you don’t want to experience again.

Just about everyone has some emotional triggers, though they might look a little different from person to person. Some common triggers include rejection, betrayal or being treated unfairly. However, keep in mind that when you make an effort to recognise a trigger and respond thoughtfully, you can handle it better.

Mentioned below are some strategies to deal with emotional triggers effectively.

Accept your feelings

Life isn’t easy. Sooner or later, you will find yourself in a tricky situation. The chances are emotional triggers will be pressed and negativity will begin to consume you. It could spring in the form of anger, sadness, increased anxiety, et cetera. If you let it control you, you might feel overwhelmed. In such a circumstance, know it’s okay to feel whatever it is that you are feeling in that moment. Embrace your emotions. Remember, it’s normal for triggers to evoke such emotions. Do not ignore or deny what you feel. It’ll only make you feel worse.

Once you accept your feelings, you’ll have more clarity. You will see things for what they are. You will be able to realise the difference between the past and the present. You won’t feel anxious anymore as you start taking back control of the situation with a calm head.

Recognise the reaction

How do you feel when you are triggered emotionally? Do you feel sad, furious? Do you breathe heavily, have sweaty palms, or can’t think clearly? If so, you need to recognise these reactions, and if possible, name them. Ask yourself what you are feeling and why and write them down. Doing so can help you understand what you are going through. Then you can move on to the next step, which is narrowing what or who triggered these feelings.

Determine what triggers you

Knowing what triggers you to react in a certain way can help you find out the root cause of this feeling. If you pay attention, there can be more than one cause. Sometimes, something as small as a specific sound, smell or overbearing personality can trigger an emotional reaction from you. It is important to understand your emotional triggers if you wish to overpower them. Next time, if something or someone ticks you off, you’ll have a better chance of dealing with them effectively.

Practice mindfulness

Being more in tune with your feelings can help you recognise your emotional triggers and find effective ways to deal with them. Research called Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Emotion Processing suggests that “mindfulness meditation could be an effective, convenient, safe, and standardised way to improve emotion processing and to remain focused and peaceful.” In short, mindfulness can help improve your ability to process emotions during challenging times. You will be more aware and calm in a difficult situation, which most likely could trigger an emotional response.

Seek guidance from experts

Managing difficult emotions isn’t easy. Oftentimes, triggers are so deeply rooted in someone’s behaviour that they may not be able to identify them by themselves. In such situations, it’s a good idea to seek professional help. There are therapists, who can help you understand and manage your emotions effectively. You’ll be able to explore your triggers without the fear of getting judged. You’ll find the necessary support and guidance from them and they can aid you in your process of healing.

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