How to Respond When You Get Triggered

The holidays are upon us and that usually means lots of time with our extended family. Do you dread this time of year or certain aspects of it? Do you wish you had ways to cope with the parts you don’t enjoy? Is there that certain someone who triggers something within you every time you see or talk to them?

Remember this:  You only have control over yourself…how you think about things, your behaviors, how you are feeling, and what you say.

  1. Act, don’t react to the times when you are triggered.  This means slowing yourself down enough to regain control of the situation by choosing how you want to respond (if at all) to inappropriate or mean comments or people. Or have a plan for how to respond before you are in the situation.  “If he says something mean, I will just look at him blankly while taking some deep breaths to soothe myself or if I decide I can’t not say anything I’ll just say, Huh, that’s an interesting perspective, or , Huh, that’s a good question, I’ll have to think about that.”
  2. Acknowledge and validate your feelings that get triggered and validate them, “Of course I want to scream at her for commenting about my weight, that was inappropriate for her to say.” Take a deep breath and know that you have zero control over that other person and instead you will take control of yourself and respond appropriately, if at all.
  3. Let yourself off the hook.  Often we think we have to respond to negative comments or inappropriate questions so we can defend our self or to make sure the other people in the conversation don’t feel awkward.  Remember to be your best adult self and sometimes saying nothing at all communications more than we could ever say with words. In fact, if we don’t respond, it shifts the awkwardness back to the sender.

Ultimately be gentle and tender with yourself and others.  Allow each new moment to unfold as it needs to.  Trust that you will do your best in each new moment and allow others the opportunity to be their best in each new moment.

Growth and Change

Growth doesn’t come without some level of discomfort.  When there is an actual change taking place, it isn’t always comfortable. Think about when you were a kid and had growth spurts.  It didn’t always feel good but  at some point pain went away and you settled into your new body.  It’s the same way with mental, emotional, and behavioral growth. Be patient in the meantime and have faith that the discomfort will ease once you get used to the change.

Resisting Change

Do you find yourself reluctant to make changes in your life?  Especially when someone else is telling you, “You need to change!”  Think about what needs changing.  If there are indicators saying something needs changing, then listen.  You can keep running away from facing your problems?  You won’t get far.  THAT WHICH WE RESIST, PERSISTS!  It won’t go away until you make a conscious effort to put it away.

Overthinking Things ALL THE TIME

Do you catch yourself constantly distracted by your thoughts? Are you consumed with thinking about things – how a situation will turn our, what someone might say, how you will respond, worrying about things that have not happened yet, etc? Do you get stuck in the same thought patterns? Do you get stuck not making decisions or taking action because you can’t stop weighing all the options? Can you remember the last time you felt really happy or really sad or really angry?

I like balance. If we are too lopsided one way – thinking too much for instance – it usually creates problems for us and those around us. What would it look like if we strive for a balance between THINKING, FEELING, & DOING? We think sometimes. We feel sometimes. We do (or take action) sometimes.

I bet we would find a relief from a lot of the dialog in our head, the worry we constantly feel, or the meaning we’ve made out of things that might not have any meaning at all.

Go ahead, give it a try!

Out-of-Control Anger

When you get angry at someone or something you are giving your power and control over to that person or thing. You react in an “angry” manner because you are trying to regain your power and control. How do you stop this cycle? You have to find your power and control from within yourself, not from outside of yourself.