Life is full of people, situations and things that will trigger you.
No one else is like you. You have your unique perspective and your unique expression.
Life is not designed for us all to be the same, with the same values, views, opinions, thoughts, feelings and actions.
It is natural to anticipate that there will be PLENTY of external experiences that will trigger you as they push hard up against what you believe to be “right” and “good”.
In these situations, there is nothing at all wrong with the experience, there is also nothing wrong with the trigger that has pushed your buttons, and furthermore there is nothing wrong with you for feeling the way you do.
Having said that, you are FULLY responsible for how you to react to life whenever you are triggered by something that doesn't align to what you believe to be “right” and “good”.
Most people live in a constant cycle of painful reactions to such experiences. Someone says something you don't like, and BOOM… you painfully react like a volcano erupting. Someone does something you don't like, and you allow your ego to judge them, and to make yourself righteous, and to look upon the situation and person with distaste. You may not even say anything, but the look on your face could be enough to express your pain and displeasure.
Any reaction to life that is unconscious (ie. default, auto-pilot, habitual and not chosen from loving consciousness) is going to create some level of pain for yourself and possibly also for the people around you. That is never going to serve you well.
So, you have a choice. Your life is one long timeline of choices. Your choices define the quality of your life experience, and flow into your outcomes for your health, emotional wellbeing, psychological wellbeing, and overall energy vibration (which has a massive impact on your life results professionally, interpersonally, financially, and so on).
Here are 13 simple steps (in video and written format) to practice for instantly transforming your pattern of painful reactions to people, situations and things that trigger you, into peaceful responses that serve you and move you forward powerfully.
1. Identify Your Triggers
What people, behaviours, words, opinions, beliefs, situations, things, experiences are guaranteed to “get a rise out of you” (ie. to generate a negative reaction within you).
2. Understand Why it Triggers You
Look closely at why it triggers you. What triggers you may not trigger another person. You are unique. It is YOU that is the cause of your painful reaction, not the trigger. The trigger just is what it is! Your reaction to the trigger is the root problem.
3. Understand Your Habitual, Unconscious Reaction Pattern
Exactly what is your habitual response to that trigger? What pattern has been ingrained that you repeat… Do you erupt in anger? Do you feel hurt? Do you close down and fester on negative thoughts and feelings? Do you vent frustration in unhealthy ways? Do you complain, moan, blame, become moody or aggressive?
4. Understand the Present Emotional Cost of Your Reaction
LOOK VERY CLOSELY at the cost to you of that unconscious reaction… there is ALWAYS a cost, and it is ALWAYS to your detriment. What price are you paying? Look at how your arising negative emotion impacts your state of mind, how you feel afterwards, your health, your stress levels.
The impetus to choose peaceful responses in each coming moment is never simply to seek the pleasure of being a good person. The human psyche finds avoidance of pain a much more motivating factor! So once you realise that a peaceful response is about avoiding a significant cost to you, you are much more likely to choose it over your habitual painful reaction.
5. Understand the Flow-on Impact for Yourself and Others
Consider what flow-on impact your painful reaction has long after the trigger situation has passed. How is the negativity flowing out with ripple effect to other people and into all areas of your life? Is your painful reaction impacting your loved ones? Are you role modelling for people around you behaviours that are harmful and limiting? Is your health suffering from holding tension in your body? Is your valuable, precious time on this planet being wasted in negativity?
6. Acknowledge That Triggers Will Not, and Do Not Need To, Disappear
Peace comes from within. Life is not about escaping your triggers. Life is about noticing them and letting them exist while choosing a peaceful response and moving on. This does not mean you have to stay within the vicinity of what triggers you. By all means move on and move away from people, situations and things that you do not like. But before you do, you are called upon to be at peace in the face of it, and then from that peaceful place you have more energy, empowerment and clarity to see the best way to extricate yourself.
7. Separate Who You Are from Your Reactions
Recognise that you are a witnessing presence that can observe the activity in your own mind, and the feelings you have – your thoughts and feelings are tools that you use, they are not who you are. The only way to put a stop to painful reactions is to separate yourself from those reactions, and to realise you are the witnessing presence behind your mind/emotions and that you have the ability to CHOOSE a response. Acknowledging this truth is critical!
8. Be Alert for Opportunities
Keep an keen eye out for opportunities (triggers!) to practise. Bring awareness into your day to day life, be present and you'll be much more capable of making a healthy choice to practise peaceful response.
9. Give Thanks
Be grateful when a trigger does arise that the Universe has offered up a perfect assignment for you to evolve into the best you that you can be. The triggers are not a pain in the butt. They are a spiritual tool for practising your interaction with life.
10. Create a Gap
When triggered, utilise your free will to create a tiny gap between the trigger stimulus and the way you respond. You do this by:
- observing your mind as it runs its negative thoughts on auto-pilot;
- allowing your feelings to rise; and then
- asking yourself “Is this a painful reaction or a peaceful response”. Then…
11. Make a Conscious Choice
In that gap where you experience conscious awareness of your trigger and yourself, make a choice to use the gifts you were born with (loving consciousness and free will) to choose a peaceful response
12. Remember WHY You Are Practicing – It's a GIFT to yourself
Remember that a peaceful response in the face of negative stimulus does not mean you endorse, approve of or embrace that negative trigger. Nor does it absolve any other person involved (who is being negative) of their responsibility. Rather, a peaceful response is a gift to yourself to move forward without harming your wellbeing and without carrying that trigger baggage with you for the rest of your day, week, month, year or life!
With interpersonal relationships in particular, it is possible to create a peaceful response in the face of very challenging experiences with other people while also setting and maintaining healthy personal boundaries. In the face of unkindness, aggression, judgement or any other array of low vibration (negative) behavior and communication from another person, you can a) practice peaceful response, and at the same time b) from that place of peaceful response you can express your personal boundaries clearly and lovingly, leaving no room for confusion for the other person about what is acceptable to you in terms of how other people treat you. Believe in the possibility that you are capable of expressing such boundaries without bringing a painful reaction into the mix at the same time.
13. Beware of Your Ego
If you peacefully respond to a situation, beware of your ego. The ego may like to say you are now a bigger and better person for taking the higher path instead of falling into negative reaction. Remain a humble and loving student of life. Do this for yourself, and do this to role model loving consciousness in action for all those around you… particularly for the children and young people in your life who will witness and mimic you as their way of understanding how life works.
With love, Bernadette
Why is it that even though I know all of this, sometimes the emotional reaction is so intense I cannot stop it?
Hey Cindy, good news… it’s just because you’re human. We all have times, no matter how conscious we are, that we are triggered so strongly that we fall into automatic reaction.
Think of your triggers on a scale, from light to medium to heavy.
Some are light triggers (traffic jam, someone being late to meet you, forgetting to put the rubbish out) and some are medium triggers (high workload, someone interrupts you when you’re trying to focus) and some are HEAVY triggers (these are the ones that really hit a raw nerve in you… it might be that someone committed to doing something for you and let you down, or you try something and fail at it, or people aren’t supporting you the way you want them to).
HEAVY triggers are the ones that generate the most intense reaction and require the most consciousness from you to shift yourself into peaceful response… the reason many people react so intensely (it feels like they can’t stop it) is usually because what is occurring (the external event) is aligning directly to an ingrained and prominent negative/limiting belief they have about themselves or about life/other people – so it’s like literally pushing on a raw emotional nerve and they react with full emotion in response. The more deeply ingrained and negative the belief, the stronger the emotional, out-of-control reaction to that trigger.
The key is to remember, that it’s not the trigger that we focus on. Instead, we focus on the reason that it triggers you (which is always what you believe about it, how you perceive yourself/the world/the event). The trigger is just what is is, the cause lies within you. That seems scary, confronting or frustrating for some people, but actually the truth is that it’s incredibly empowering, because if the cause lies within you, then you have power over it and can shift it.
I hope this somewhat helps to provide clarification for you. If you ever need support with moving forward, feel free to get in touch or check out our personalised coaching offers ( https://www.bernadettelogue.com/life-coach/ ) as we love to help people take back their power with customised support and transform these types of blocks in order to really thrive in their lives!
Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and New Year
Thank you for this response! What’s a good way to feel the emotions that the trigger brings up? So for me, it’s that a guy rejects me in some capacity which brings up feelings of worthlessness, I will always be alone, no one will ever love me, etc. so how do I feel those feelings and not react? It’s like if I am conscious that I am being triggered, how do I also honor those feelings by feeling them and not suppressing? This stuff is hard work. Every time I think I get it, it seems like something new happens that makes me think I am going backwards. Also, regarding private coaching do you also do calls over the phone or FaceTime? I’m sure I could figure Skype out but wanted to ask if there are other options.
Firstly, there are techniques for being with/witnessing your feelings and honouring that those are coming up, without suppressing them or being owned by them. The trick is to understand what your emotions are telling you, and then use that understanding to create transformation within yourself (shifting your paradigm) in order to process your response to that trigger in future in a more empowering way. It can feel like hard work at present because there is confusion about either the trigger, the emotion, or how to manage the feeling as it takes you over, and then also this might be coupled with a concern about how to change that so you don’t have to live your life ‘owned’ by at emotion in the future. The key is to look openly and very closely at EXACTLY WHY that trigger causes you to have that emotional reaction. We all have beliefs systems which are like coding that run a computer… beliefs are what run our lives and they sit behind/below what we think, how we think, why we think it, what we feel and how we behave. Beliefs include what we believe about ourselves, what we believe about other people and what we believe about life. These beliefs then impact the way we perceive and interpret our circumstances and the events we experience (everything is interpreted through our own unique individual filter). Rather than avoiding triggers or learning to ‘cope’, we look instead at your interpretation and belief system, and focus on transformation at that level with simple but effective belief rewiring processes. For private 1:1 coaching, we offer this by Skype, Google Hangouts or other free video/call options over the internet. I do have Facetime and am happy to use that also. Plus depending on where you are located, I can do telephone based sessions. Please get in touch via our coaching page (https://www.bernadettelogue.com/life-coach/) or email me directly ([email protected]) to discuss what will best suit you. I’d love to support you to shift powerfully through this block and release it from your life. Blessings and warmest wishes, B 🙂
This came at the exact time I needed it. Thanks
Glad it was timely for you! Best wishes, B
I took a course in non violent communication and I found it to be very informative and masterful however it was not effective in curtailing lashing out because of a negative trigger. What I realize is missing is what I read here – to create a gap between the trigger and your response. The “amagdala hijack” is triggered and like fellow commentators have stated we seem to have no choice in reacting – especially when the outrage of the wrong is so agregious. The epiphany for me from what I read – even though seemingly obvious now – is that regardless of the “outrage” committed against us – any angry response will boomerang back causing damage and pain that can be irreversible no matter how contrite we may show ourselves to be. Existential pain. I always thought that anger management was for people who get triggered by even the most trivial of things – now I realize it is about preventing anger from laying out. The gap allows for us to find an effective way of dealing with what angers us – and I also realize that ANYTHING would be less dangerous than the knee jerk reaction to anger. I hope these realizations will have an impact on my life. Yoga, meditation, prayer, breathing, love mindfulness, sleep, excercise, raising self esteem, avoidance of caffeine and alcohol we all recognize as the first line of defense. Despite all that I’m struggling to nip the eruption in the bud in time before the anger conquers me. I’m going to call the anger “sabotage” and let it know that no matter what outrage even God forbid a cheating spouse can justify its expression – either in lashing out or even festering inside.
Thank you for sharing your experience. And yes, it isn’t “easy” to nip those reactions in the bud, but it’s entirely possible. It just requires consistent practise. A willingness, bringing self-awareness, practising over and over again. And with time, that practise starts to reduce the frequency and intensity of the reactions. Other tools that help with releasing emotional intensity as proactive personal growth, include meditation, deep breathing practise, and EFT/tapping. Using those day to day allows you to release the valve on past pend up emotions and day to day issues, so that you are calmer, and less likely to go into the intensity of reaction. I hope that helps. Best wishes! Bernadette
What if the triggers and negativity comes from my husband. He must have a lot of pain inside his heart. He is constantly saying hurtful things and or starting arguments or being just negative if he doesn’t get his way.
I show and say positive things to him to try and make our marriage work and then it’s just a matter of time that he comes at me – pushing buttons. He will shift the blame and minimize his behavior. It happens all the time. I try not to get mad or say something back but it’s REALLY hard and is an ongoing challenge!
I read in your Blog about the 13 steps to transform painful reactions into peaceful responses.
Particularly where you mentioned get away from that person or separate from your boyfriend. But in this case it’s my husband. Do you have suggestions when this person happens to be in your life and I also have 2 sons (11 and 14 yrs old) that are watching my reactions. A lot of times I am not happen with my reactions and wish I would of handled it differently.
I suppose my most challenging part is the No.#7 Having the ability to CHOOSE a response. No. #11 Make a Conscious Choice
My habitual reactions are: I raise my voice, become angry, or feel down on myself and cry, or give him ultimatums.
Thanks for your message. Yes it can be really difficult.
The challenge is that you can’t control someone else and their willingness or otherwise to participate in healing, resolution and creating positive change. You can only do what you can do, and then allow your choices, energy and behavior to influence the other person to whatever degree. If they refuse to be responsible for their behavior, refuse to make an effort to improve the relationship, then it becomes a personal choice about what you do in that situation – whether it’s something you can manage and be around, or not. Please know that the suggestion with this advice in the article is NOT to move away from the relationship, it’s to move away from the situation. ie. if they are triggering you in a moment, you remove yourself from the situation by going to a different room, to allow them space to cool off and allow you space to find calm so you can make a conscious choice. Yes in some scenarios, if your intuition guides you, you may choose to not just remove yourself from situations, but from an actual relationship. But that is not always possible in the immediate moment, and perhaps it is not something you want to do. Only you will know what is right to do based on your inner voice.
On the other points, you are doing really well to know your triggers and know your habitual reaction and it’s all about practise now when it comes to pausing and choosing your response. That doesn’t happen every time automatically just because you “know” the process. It is something that takes day to day practise. Some days you will do that well, other days perhaps not. You choose to practise as it’s good for you and good for your children, and celebrate yourself for your willingness to practise in the first place! And be kind to yourself when you’ve reacted and wish you had been calmer, because… we don’t get it right all the time. We have to build that capacity for calm and non-reaction, build it like a muscle… by practising.
Thank you so much for your help. You have been so helpful unlike other people online that I have reached out to. You have the BEST audio and videos I’ve seen and heard!! It’s been very inspirational and right on with what I’m going through. I appreciate that you are here to touch on every aspect of living and tips to practice and use in my daily interactions with others and including my husband. I also like the mantra videos. You’re response is greatly appreciated – GREAT work you do you saved me,part of my well being and inner peace. THANKS
You’re very welcome. Much love to you Janice 🙂 B