Getting Triggered! It can be a slippery slope but doesn’t have to be

triggeredWe all know that feeling of getting triggered. A quick feeling of anger, hurt, fear, or perhaps the feeling of being misjudged or ignored. That comment from a boss or colleague that leaves you feeling criticized. An eye roll from your teen. The dreaded silence of a partner when you are hoping for some verbal reassurance. Or those words that can feel so cutting embedded in a pointed question.

We all get triggered and different things trigger each of us. While it would be nice if most things could roll off our backs and we could learn to be non-defensive, that takes a lifetime of practice. A worthy goal I believe even if we never quite reach it!

Since we all do get triggered how do we prevent a touchy situation from getting worse? I think this is the biggest question and the most empowering question for each of us. Some of us have a tendency to want to defend ourselves immediately. Either with explanations, counter arguments, or perhaps a comment back about what the other person did or did not do. Some of us have a tendency to quietly take it in, feel terrible, and never say anything. We just try to avoid or deny that we are even bothered.

It’s pretty easy to see that both of these reactions can have a huge downside. So how do we know what a “healthy enough” response might be?

Some points to consider:

  • Ask yourself, How do I want to be able to respond? Even if I can’t yet do it, how would my “better self” like to be able to respond? Get an image of what you would like to grow into.
  • Ask yourself, If I say this will I be improving the situation between myself and the other person or will I be causing more triggered feelings?
  • Ask yourself, If I don’t speak up will I be improving the situation between me and the other person?
  • Ask yourself, Is the other person available to hear me?
  • If you do speak up, when and how is the best time to do so?

Please do remember, we are each responsible for how we react when we get triggered. It’s not someone else’s “fault” regardless of how offensive we may find their actions or words. If it triggered me, I’m responsible for what I do or don’t do!

That is a powerful position!