We all have emotional triggers where people, words, opinions, circumstances, or environmental situations hit a ‘raw nerve’ inside us. It’s like someone pulled the rug out from under our feet, and it can make us feel sick in the pit of our stomach. It provokes an intense and excessive emotional reaction within us. Then, seconds later, there is a response. For some there’s an outwardly noticeable response, while for others it’s an internally contained buried response.
Why do we get triggered? What happens when we become emotionally triggered? Why is it important to identify our emotional triggers? How do they keep us stuck? Read on to find out.
How You Become Emotionally Triggered
Virtually anything can be an emotional trigger. You could be on your own or with a partner, family member, friend, colleague or other. The trigger could start with a tone of voice, a type of person, a particular viewpoint, a single word, anything.
In any case, it arises when a situation occurs in the present which hits that ‘raw nerve’ – awakening the memory of a past experience. It’s a source of emotional pain to us , because it is connected to a perceived inadequacy we have about ourselves.
- Body: Experiencing a fight, flight-or-freeze stress response (‘deer in the headlights’). The body has a number of responses to this, some of which include changes such as:
* Breathing – Shallow breathing, choking feeling or difficulty with breathing
* Heart- rapid heartbeat, palpitations and chest pain.
* Stomach – churning and sick feeling in the stomach; nausea
* Temperature changes – hot flushes; chills;
* Other trembling – dizziness or faintness or sweating
* Can also be a feeling of detachment/unreality (known as dissociation);
- Emotions: Experiencing intense feelings such as hatred, disgust, anger, fear, terror, or grief
- Mind: Thoughts of woundedness, a victim, deflecting by blaming and judging others.
- Actions: Self-protective behaviour such as shutting down/withdrawing inside, shouting, arguing, insulting, belittling, defaming, sabotaging, assaulting, and even murdering or otherwise emotionally reacting.
Reasons For Emotional Triggers
- Traumatic experiences. When a person has had a past traumatic experience (eg war, rape or violent attack), they can re-experience that event. Just seeing, hearing, tasting, touching or smell something that reminds them of the previous trauma, can cause them to re-experience it. The reaction is often extreme fear and panic (or in some cases, anger).
- Opposing beliefs and values. They reflect what we hold as true and important in life. They help us to feel safe and comfortable. When we strongly identify with our beliefs and values, we may find it difficult to be tolerant when people disagree or challenge them. Reason being that they are calling into question, the truth and legitimacy of what we hold dear
- Identity. Our sense of self is composed of thoughts, memories, cultural values, assumptions and belief structures. Its primary purpose is to protect us from facing what we fear most – death of the self (as we know it). It does this through developing elaborate “self-protection” mechanisms in the form of beliefs, ideals, desires, habits, and addictions. Threats or challenges to our identity are likely to trigger emotions immediately.
The Importance of Identifying Emotional Triggers
If you want to create different results in your life, then it’s important that you consciously identify your emotional triggers. Otherwise, you’ll be constantly manipulated by your emotions. Furthermore, this underlying tension can drain your energy, trip you up, and strain relationships. Alongside that, if you don’t address these emotional triggers, you will continue to repeat the same patterns. You will continue to find yourself:
- in triggering situations,
- feeling the emotional reactions,
- behaving in response
- having the same results
Emotional triggers can interfere with your ability to clarify your direction, make decisions and take action. They disempower you and sabotage your success, blocking you as you try to make progress. Consequently, they affect your ability to achieve what’s important in your life.
If you are not achieving the results you want, then sit down and reflect. Look for the patterns which are holding you back. Similarly, consider how are those patterns being triggered? Next, commit to getting them sorted out. If you can’t identify or resolve the patterns and triggers yourself, or simply want to do it in a faster and more effective way, then I encourage you to seek out assistance.
Time to breakthrough your emotional triggers so you can achieve different results? If so, it’s time to take action. I have a proven step by step process for assisting people who are ready to breakthrough their emotionally triggered patterns. Simply click here to book a chat to find out how I can best assist you.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to create the life you desire – take at least one action step today towards achieving your important goals.