If we don’t learn how to manage our triggers, our triggers will manage us, and therefore, we must learn how to manage our triggers successfully.
Our emotional triggers are created from past negative experiences. When we are placed in a position similar to that negative experience, strong emotions are stirred up, and the ensuing reactions can lead to emotional difficulties—maybe even regrettable outbursts. Triggers can appear anywhere in our relationships or communication, and left unchecked, they will control us.
But the choice of how we respond will always be ours.
We can allow our triggers to set us off and control us, or we can manage them and discipline ourselves. The good news is that there are ways to can address these triggers and reduce our negative reactions to them.
Here are some powerful ways to manage your triggers:
Listen to your body. The moment you get triggered, you may experience a physical response. Your breathing may get shallow or your chest may tighten. You may suddenly feel that your head is about to explode. Whatever form it takes, learn to pay attention to your body’s signals. Listen to your body so you can stay ahead of the trigger.
Behavior tells. Sometimes strong emotions come up and we have no idea what triggered them. But by paying close attention over time to the situations where you become agitated or annoyed and you aren’t even sure why, you can identify the types of things that tend to trigger you. This makes it easier to work with them.
Stay in touch with your feelings. Our emotions signal to us what is going on for us within. By staying emotionally honest with yourself and recognizing the cues of your emotions, you’ll be able to identify what you’re feeling and why—and do something about it.
Expand your tolerance. It’s natural to want to avoid triggering people or circumstances. That may be possible and even good when you’re in the early stages of learning to manage your triggers, but it isn’t usually realistic in the long run. Slowly allow yourself to take on more triggering experiences, reminding yourself to slow and control your responses, then build on that success until it’s no longer a problem
Take a time out. Distract yourself by giving yourself a time out. Stepping back can help you calm down before you re-engage with a situation. You can use this time to think about the emotions you’re experiencing and how to address them in a positive way. Do something that can create an opposite emotion—if you are stressed, think of things that will calm you down.
Create a new habit. Long term, to avoid being triggered at all, you need to work to create new habits of mind—not to break down what your have built for yourself, but to build a better life by making small changes. When you create a new habit for positive change, you will experience long-term effects on your emotions and how you mange them. Work toward self-improvement by taking small steps each day. Do something that helps you feel competent and more in control to regulate your emotions and gives positive feedback for your sense of purpose.
We must learn how to manage our triggers successfully, before they overpower our lives and leadership.
Lead From Within: We all have our own unique emotional triggers. Learning to mange them constructively enables us to deal with the issues that get in our way and move ahead in our lives and leadership.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.
19. Apr, 2016
I’m with you on all of these. The one I find hardest is avoiding ‘triggering people’. Circumstances I can get through but yes, the people are not always easy to avoid. Great post Lolly!!
20. Apr, 2016
Gloria as we know, people might trigger us, but they only trigger us because something is happening within us, so if our goal is truly not to be triggered we must first work on ourselves.
Thanks for your comment. Appreciate your thoughts.
19. Apr, 2016
Lolly, thank you for the tips on how to be in command and transform habits of emotional triggers. I appreciate it 🙂
20. Apr, 2016
And Garren I appreciate you.
19. Apr, 2016
Thanks alot it works
19. Apr, 2016
Another fabulous article.
I loved the way you have touched on so many triggers. I particularly loved the point about observing the breathing and I can relate so much to it. thanks for this.
I also loved the point about our own unique emotional triggers. This is so true especially when we coach someone else. They will have their own triggers and their ways of coping and managing. As a coach, we need to be sensitive to this.
From my experience, I have also seen that between the trigger and the emotion we express, there is a gap within which there is a thought. This thought is often a limiting belief which is being expressed. e.g. If a new trainee is handling the shift in a restaurant and accidentally spills something, our thought reaction could be “these newbies don’t know anything” or “why don’t they train them properly?” It is being aware of these insidious thoughts which is also important.
This is particularly relevant for those with anger management issues as generally just before the environmental stimuli and the anger response, there is a thought reaction often about self worth or lack of respect.
20. Apr, 2016
Thanks Santosh for your insight between trigger and emotion. That moment of thought. That gap, is where we can manage our triggers. Your insight is valuable. Lolly
19. Apr, 2016
We never stop learning. I think I have added this to my treasure of knowledge. Thanks.
22. Apr, 2016
Something I noticed about how we manage our triggers in this article is how they all relate to knowing ourselves and how our body reacts. When we’re mindful of ourselves, we’re able to control those reactions.
24. Apr, 2016
Very insightful article. It struck me how useful it would be to journal our experiences as we seek to learn our triggers.
Appreciate your leadership Lolly.
25. Apr, 2016
Listen to your body is working effectively. It’s working in my daily performance
Thank you so much dear for wise post!!!
02. Jun, 2016
Some excellent posts coming through on Twitter-thank you so much and keep them coming. Enjoy your day-Rich
17. Nov, 2016
Thanks Lolly this article was so powerful in identifying my triggers. Also during sales meetings there are triggers that bring out my best and worst and now I can prepare even better. In Vietnamese we say Tuyet Cu Meo “Awesome”
24. Mar, 2017
Thanks, I appreciate the advice on learning new habits to not let things trigger you. Will try. I’ll also add though that if you know you are patient and have been patient that you may also need to set boundaries, and lovingly (politely) make them clear to others. But oftentimes, we have difficulty with confronting others even when doing so with the proper demeanor. There is a bible scripture that warns about protecting your heart and not throwing pearls to swine, and sometimes (hopefully rarely though) you may have that kind of situation in front of you and simply need walk away (as politely as possible of course ).
15. Sep, 2017
Thank you lolly.
You made my day