How to Recognzie Your Triggers

Awareness is the birthplace of possibility. Everything you want to do, everything you want to be, starts here.

It’s easy to say something triggers us. “Triggered” is essentially a hashtag when it comes our generation these days, and it’s true, many things are triggering, especially with the widespread dispersal of information via social media. But not everyone is triggers by the same things. We are all shaped by our own emotional response and past traumas. 

Why do we all have triggers? In short, some believe it is correlated with when we were children. When we were growing up, we inevitably may have experienced pain or suffering that we could not acknowledge or deal with sufficiently at the time. So as adults, we typically become triggered by experiences that are reminiscent of these old painful feelings. As a result, we typically turn to habitual or addictive ways of trying to manage the painful feelings.

Learning to identify your triggers is an important skill, and even a tool to manage your emotional well-being. Understanding what can set us off into an unproductive spiral can help to eliminate what doesn’t serve us or allow us to be our best.

“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. Franklin

The hardest part is maintaining awareness when we find ourselves in the midst of an emotional episode. It’s important to be very honest with yourself about your triggers and how you react to them. Even if this approach feels harsh initially, it will help you learn to be more compassionate with yourself. Sometimes your emotional responses can be incredibly physical, such as shortness of breath, panic attacks, nausea or indigestion, sweating, and more. It’s key to try and notice when you are triggered by paying attention to when you start to feel that flooding of emotion or identify where you first begin to feel it in your body.

Here at Flourish Health we  encourage you to pause at the first feeling of sadness and anger and take five deep breaths the best way we can, in through our nose, and out through our mouth. This is a great practice of mindfulness – walking away from what we are doing for a moment to take time to gather our thoughts and feelings, identify them and decide how to proceed in a healing way. Thoughtfully communicating our way out of the response, even if that communication is within ourselves is such a powerful way of practice.  

We know it’s not possible to avoid every situation that may emotionally trigger us, and that’s not the goal. We want to be aware of our triggers so that we can be emotionally sound in the face of real-life issues in the future, and to work through the issues, learn, and heal. Recognition is important to take actionable steps and develop true intuition. If we only learn to avoid triggers instead of acknowledging them, we will end up avoiding the real issues that trigger us, which becomes unhealthy suppression.

The goal is to protect our mental health, garner strength from within, and navigate through the muck of life with minimal collateral damage. We must protect our energy at all costs in order to be the best, most powerful, and productive version of ourselves, so we can serve our own joy and others.

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