How to Shift When You're Feeling Triggered


How you approach and communicate when you're feeling triggered makes all the difference.

There are so many moments in our lives when we feel stuck. We see how we "want" to be yet recognize that the negative thoughts and feelings we have are the result of certain triggers (that is, situations or people) that make us feel powerless, reconnect us to the pain we are trying to leave behind, or create icky feelings of frustration. What’s most difficult is that it can happen when we least expect it--even those moments when we are feeling super groovy.

When you are triggered, however, it doesn’t mean you have to stay "stuck" in this ick feeling. There are techniques you can use to become aware of your "re-actions" and then help you become responsible for changing your thoughts, feelings and actions so you can literally catapult yourself to a new level of awareness, happiness, and ultimately love of self and others. Here’s an example of how negative victim or conflict thinking can manifest inside your head via the "word" of the inner critical voice I often refer to as the "dark side" voice:

Situation: Your hear your boyfriend (date, friend, partner) talking to your best friend using communication you feel isn’t effective. You feel like it's having a negative effect on your friend. You feel you must confront him about it, but you're concerned how he will react to your comments.

Think about how you typically might respond to this scenario. If you are intimidated or "walk on eggshells" when you have to confront your boyfriend, you might be afraid you aren’t communicating your thoughts appropriately. Conversely, perhaps you confront your boyfriend using language that's perceived as being "bossy" or "controlling." Either way, consider how you might BEST deliver the message. Think about your body language, the tone of your voice, and other key characteristics that will impact how your message is received.

Remember, however, that you can manage your thoughts, feelings and actions and move past STUCK to create a win-win result that leaves you feeling empowered, happy, and satisfied. Here are some possible options to avoid, followed by some suggestions for change.

Victim Approach

Thoughts: "Why is he doing this to me again? He just doesn’t care about how it makes me feel." If you remain in this energetic level, you most likely choose not to confront your boyfriend. Instead, you try to ignore the feelings and hope it just "goes away."

Conflict Approach

Thoughts: "He is such a jerk. I can’t believe he just doesn’t get it. I’m so pissed off; I can’t believe I have to deal with this." If you stay in this energetic level, you might say this to your boyfriend: "What were you thinking? You are upsetting everyone, and I don’t have time to deal with this. UGH. You need to fix this, NOW."

The Pro-Active Response

Thoughts: "There has to be a way to resolve this without too much pain. How can I manage his ego to make him apologize and change his behavior?" Using this approach, you might choose words that include a conversation that goes like this: "I'm wondering how you might best get your point across to my friend without too much grief. What do you suggest?"

The Nurturing Response

Thoughts: "I feel bad for my friend, and I want her to feel safe. I also care about my boyfriend, and I don’t want to upset him or make him feel badly." In this scenario, you could approach your boyfriend using words such as, "We have a problem. I consider myself responsible because up until now I've never mentioned it. I know you mean well telling my friend your point of view, but she may not hear you clearly sometimes. How can we communicate to her in a way in which she feels secure and also hears your opinion?"

The "Everything Is an Opportunity to Learn" Approach

Thoughts: "My boyfriend and I typically communicate effectively most of the time. This situation with my friend is a great opportunity for both of us to practice giving and receiving feedback. I can’t even imagine where we could go once we take it to the next level." When you are truly in a space in which each challenge creates an opportunity to learn, the words you use with your boyfriend might be, "I think this is a perfect opportunity to connect better so that we both feel acknowledged. Let’s brainstorm how we could both communicate better--not just with each other, but with the other people in our lives."

The "Zen" Approach

Thoughts: "What we feel within is often projected unto others." This situation is a great exercise in self-awareness. Those who live a Zen life are able to truly disengage from the "trigger" that typically might impact their thoughts, feelings and actions. In this scenario, the words might be, "I’m enjoying watching this dynamic between you and other people. I’m learning so much in the process. I can totally see myself in your shoes, and I can also imagine how my friend might have felt. How are you experiencing this?"

What’s important to know is that we all move fluidly between each of these approaches throughout each day. Once we become free from the blocks that make us feel triggered, however, we begin to experience situations differently, feeling increased levels of happiness.

Take a look at what makes you feel stuck these days. Loneliness? Grieving over a lost relationship? Feeling like your dream business is an impossible dream? Whatever the thoughts, feelings or actions, review the approaches listed above and notice where you land. Then, create new scenarios of "self talk" using a different approach.