The Secret Behind Triggers

Do you ever feel like you are just going about your day and a certain situation, or person’s actions changes your mood in an instant?  We all have certain triggers in life that evoke a very strong and emotional response from us, these triggers vary greatly from one person to the next, but are very powerful as they are connected deep inside of us.

A trigger is something that evokes a strong emotional response, something that goes way deeper than average.  Triggers are anything that remind us of certain events from out past, they can be arguments, holidays, abandonment, traumas, public speaking, socializing, medical issues, the list is truly endless.  Sometimes we are triggered by something we are not even aware of, but our subconscious picks up on it.

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I am a pretty even-tempered person, even though my mind is steadily going, I’ve been told that I have a very laid back personality.  Just like anyone else, I have things that trigger me.  For me, the biggest thing that triggers me is when someone disrespects me.  I make every conscious effort in my being to respect others, so when that is not given, or returned, I have a very hard time dealing with it.  I am also triggered by being in a group of people, certain social situations, and being talked down to, or criticized.  These all create a deep emotional response within me.  I know that these things are triggers for me, so I work extra hard to think logically and not let my emotions get the best of me when they arise.  Due to triggers often being tied to past events, it’s even more difficult to control your response, which is often quick and automatic, but by realizing what upsets you and allowing yourself distance from the trigger, you can better manage and reflect.

Knowing your triggers and knowing yourself in general are very beneficial when encountering things that you know set you off.  If you are getting into a situation that you know will cause you stress and anxiety, you can prepare yourself mentally and hope for a better outcome than if you had not prepared.  Often times talking out a series of events, or even journaling can bring about some amazing insight that you may have otherwise not found.

It’s natural to want to avoid what triggers us because we don’t want the unpleasant feelings that come with it, however if we do not push ourselves to go against our fears, we will never conquer them.  Growth happens when you make an effort to challenge what controls you!

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Hamster Wheel

Our brain is a very interesting and powerful organ. Whatever we feed it can make or break us. Our minds soak up a lot of information including the thoughts that we have and if we are not consciously filtering our thoughts, they can really take over us. Sometimes this process is slow, or we do not recognize how we are shaping our brain, but it truly does eventually have a great impact.

Have you ever been thinking of something, or worried about something and then before you know it you are thinking about that thought over and over again? Or, maybe your mind may have thought up many new thoughts that led to other thoughts and then you forgot the one you were originally thinking about! Our minds can take a thought and run with it if we let it.

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You may have heard of the terms hamster wheel and snowball effect. Both describe what happens to our brain when we overthink, or think in an anxious manner. The hamster wheel basically describes how someone persistently thinks the same thoughts over and over again, but gets nowhere because their thoughts go around and around in circles like a hamster running on a hamster wheel. The snowball effect states that our thoughts continue to gain momentum and power the more that we keep thinking. Like a snowball that gets bigger as it rolls down a hill, the thoughts keep gaining speed and power as it collects more momentum, our thoughts are fueling more thoughts.

These patterns of thinking happen to all of us, but I feel like they may be more common in individuals that are deep-thinkers, or are prone to anxiety. I know that I fall into both of these categories and once my mind gets going, it can be very hard to get it to stop. I have found ways that have helped though. First, it helps to calm the mind from all of the racing thoughts. Ways to do this include meditation, focusing on your breathing, observing details in the objects around the room you are in, anything that can shift your brain away from the current thoughts you are having. Once your mind is calmer, then you can put your energy into a project, or your to-do list, keeping active to avoid overthinking too much. If your mind was running because you were pondering a decision, or because of a question that you have, once you have relaxed some, try to look at the decision or question at hand logically and try to remove as much emotion as possible. Try to be mindful when your mind starts to wander astray from focusing just on the task at hand, which is to solve your question, or make a decision.

It is definitely easier said than done, but try not to let your mind run away on you! I still struggle with this often, but it really does rob one of a peaceful day. Having some control of the mind makes for a much easier way of life!

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Center Stage

Do you ever feel like the whole world has its eyes on you, watching your every move, decisions, and mistakes?  Well, to put it simply, most of the time they don’t.  We are the center of our lives and we are so in tune with ourselves and what is happening to us that we feel like the whole world is just as in tuned to us as we are.  The truth is, everyone is involved in their own lives and is not focusing, or watching us as closely as we perceive them to be.

There is no one that knows us better than ourselves, we know ourselves very deeply.  We know all of our needs, fears, desires, we have lived through all of our past experiences and that has molded us to create beliefs about ourselves, beliefs that we feel other people have about us also. In reality, other people do not see us how we see ourselves, they do not know us on the same deep level.

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How many times were you surprised by the response of others, where you thought they were thinking one way, but it turns out that it was the opposite?  For example, you have just finished giving a presentation at work, you feel like you blew it, like it was a failure, you think of all of the things that you forgot to say, yet when it’s over, you get amazing feedback from your coworkers.  Think of when you got a haircut that you didn’t like, or a minor imperfection that you have that you feel like the whole world notices, think of how many times you have brought those minor imperfections up to people and they respond by saying “Oh, I didn’t even notice until you said something!”  All of these examples show that we are entirely more focused on ourselves than other people are.  

In the world of psychology, there is a concept known as The Spotlight Effect, it basically states that we feel like we are being watched and observed far more than is actually happening.  I know that as a teenager I felt like I was always in the spotlight, always being observed and judged, but so did others of my age.  I still feel this way sometimes now as an adult, but I am so much more relaxed and I try to live life for me and not worry what others are thinking or saying about me.

I hope that this post has helped you in some way and that it reminds you to live your own life freely, be 100% you, and do what you love.  You are at the center stage of your own life and your audience couldn’t see you in a more brighter light!

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Distortions

We see everything in life clearly, or do we?  There is so much to see in this world and some of it cannot be seen with the naked eye, but even what we do see is not always how it appears.  How many times in your life have you been so certain that a particular person was a certain way and they ended up being the exact opposite, or a situation that you thought took place one way, actually unfolded in a completely different way?  Looks are very deceiving, things are definitely not always how they appear.

If you really stop and think about it, this topic could drive you crazy.  We see someone, or see things one way, but they are actually another.  Much of what causes us to see life distorted are our past experiences.  We know that x,y, and z turned out a certain way in the past, therefore we think it will turn out the same way again.  We can sometimes get caught up in assumptions, I know I do this, I assume things are a certain way just based off of how they appear, definitely something that I continue to work on because this mindset is not very helpful!

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Another aspect that creates distortions in our lives are our own fears and anxieties.  We all have things in life that make us uncomfortable at some point or another.  I’m sure that we have all felt like someone didn’t like us, or that the world was against us.  Picture this, you met someone new, they are quiet and don’t really want to engage in conversation with you.  Different people will have a different response to this, some will figure that the individual is just shy or reserved and needs time to become comfortable, others might think that the individual doesn’t like them, or doesn’t enjoy their company, they may wonder what they have done wrong.  What about when your boss e-mails you and wants to set up a meeting, some may just take this gesture as a normal part of business, where other people may worry that they are in trouble, or about to be given bad news.  We can see how our mind can cause us to see people and situations in a distorted way.

We can easily create a lot of unneeded stress in our lives by not seeing a person for who they are, or a situation for what it is.  It’s hard not to do, I struggle with this myself, but it is helpful for us to remember that things are not always as they seem.  

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Adapting to Change

For the most part, humans are pretty habitual by nature.  Most of us thrive with having a routine, we look forward to carrying out our daily rituals no matter how small.  We as human beings find comfort in the known, the routine, the predictable.  There are some individuals that thrive off of spontaneity and the unknown and some prefer a mix.  For me, I am very much a creature of habit, I enjoy having structure and a routine and most changes take me a while to adapt to.

In recent events, a sad and unfortunate Coronavirus (Clovid-19) pandemic has swept the globe flipping our lives upside down.  This virus doesn’t just have a massive effect on some people, or some countries, this pandemic has effected the entire globe.  The world has hardly ever seen such a nightmare, such a life-changing event.  In the blink of an eye, life has changed for all of us.  Our routines have been interrupted, our way of life has been modified, the hustle and bustle has been halted.  

Adapting to change is not easy, like I mentioned before, we thrive in the known and in our routines.  When life changes so suddenly as with the Coronavirus, we don’t have much time to plan, process, or adjust, it’s almost like you wake up and life is suddenly different.  Part of how we grow and become stronger is dealing with struggles, change, and the uncomfortable.  When change is unexpected and we are forced into a new norm, we have to learn to adapt as hard as that may be.  Thankfully, this pandemic will end, we will take control of this, and in the meantime we have to do the best that we can to maintain sanity and normalcy.

As with many things in life, this situation can be looked at as mind over matter.  It helps to remind ourselves that this is only temporary, we will have our routines back, we will be able to go out and enjoy life again.  Adapting to new ways of life, being around family 24/7, changes in routine, work, school, get-togethers, we will get that back.  No one wants to go through this, we must remember that and be there for each other.  As difficult as it is, try not to focus on what we temporarily lost, but to know that this has an end, and our love and support for our loved ones and humanity will get us through this.

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Change has the ability to help us realize what we have, helps us appreciate and be grateful for the little things, not taking for granted coffee with a friend, having a job to go to, going to the store without wearing a mask and gloves.  Change can be very hard, but it is also beneficial. The ironic thing is that change eventually becomes a new norm.

These last few weeks I have really had to keep my mind in check.  I’ve had to remember that this is not permanent, we are all going through a trying time, we get used to and find comfort in the familiar, but it does not help us grow.  Not only is my routine changed, so are those of my family and we have to learn to really find a compromise in our new lifestyle because we are all having to change and modify what we are used to.

My thoughts and prayers go out to this entire world.  We have what it takes to get through this and one day we will all look back on this as just a memory.  I pray for peace, healing, health, and safety for each of you. God Bless.

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