This week something happened that triggered an emotional reaction from me.  It was an email from someone.  This kind of email used to trigger me more than occurred this time.  But, it caused me to think about how I let emotional triggers control me and how I see them controlling (and destroying) the lives of others.

The founder of analytical psychology Carl Jung wrote, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  While I hate to admit this, my triggers have been my best learning experiences.  

1. What is a trigger. A trigger is an experience that draws us back into the past and causes old feelings and behaviors to arise. For example, an ice cream truck may remind you of your childhood summer vacations.  Or, a partner’s comment to you could remind (trigger) you of an unhappy situation you had in the past. We all have them and some are positive.

2. Watch for those external triggers. Some triggers are situational and some are social. Some of us eat more when stressed.  Some of us allow tense or moody people to affect our own mood. A trigger is emotional.

3. What’s causing your trigger. Almost anything can be a trigger. So much depends on what you carry with you from the past — even from your childhood.  These internal conflicts and feelings can (and will) interfere with your ability to live fully in the present moment.

4. Triggers cause us to make stupid decisions and act in stupid ways. Triggers cause us to experience a range of emotions including frustration, anger, resentment, insecurity, jealousy and defensiveness. Sometimes, triggers bring forward emotional outbursts – which never seem to come out appropriately.

I’ve watched people I love allow their emotional triggers to ruin their work and life relationships.  Don’t you know people who have exaggerated egos, arrogant behavior, aggressiveness (physical and verbal) or those who are disloyal or lie?  These people have allowed their triggers to rule their lives.  And, more often than not, those who can’t deal with their triggers often have wounded egos that haven’t healed.

When you see others acting on their triggers you may or may not be able to help them see what’s happening.  But when I’m triggered, I’m trying to remind myself that I can’t change the past and rarely can change I others.  I also have the power to control how I respond to people and events in the present moment.

I’ve decided to try to think of my triggers as a way to learn more about my life s*** (of which I have my fair share!).  I want to use triggers as a positive way to live life a bit more fully and to help me ignore the situations and people that really don’t bring me emotional happiness.  Guess I’m still a work in progress!

Have a great day!