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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It’s Not Personal

In our everyday interactions with others, we experience a wide variety of responses, or sometimes even lack thereof from others.  When dealing with other people, there are so many emotions and situations that we face and naturally a lot of the time, we as humans wonder our place in it all.  How much of other’s emotions and actions are a direct result of us?

When we communicate and relate to other people, we are constantly regulating our feelings and perceptions as well as taking in verbal and non-verbal cues from others.  A lot of how we communicate is a reflection of ourselves, or how we perceive ourselves.  As human beings, we put a lot of focus, blame, attention to the things that we do “wrong,” or “right.”  In a lot of cases, we are quick to assume that if someone is upset, or is not acting themselves around us, that it’s somehow possibly our fault. 

How many times can you recall that you have said things like “I wonder what I did wrong?,” “Could I have handled that better?,” “Did I say all the wrong things?,” “Does this person care for me anymore?,”  Lots of questions like these can go through our heads when someone we know acts different towards us.  Most of the time, it actually has nothing to do with us, it’s not personal.

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Say for example, your significant other is being really quiet one day, so many things run through your head and then you start replaying the conversations that you had with them that day to see if you have somehow caused them to be upset.  You later find out after your significant other has a chance to relax and unwind that they just had a really rough day at work.  Another example, you and your best friend talk often, always exchanging text messages and phone calls, one day your texts and calls are not returned like they usually are.  Again your mind wanders and thinks of all the possible reasons why, including the fact that somehow you may be the reason why they have gone distant.  Later on that night, you find out that your best friend had a ton on their plate that day and that they put their phone away most of the day wanting some much needed alone time. 

It is really important to remember that most of the time, other people’s emotions and actions have nothing to do with us.  Even when we are mistreated, that has more to do with how the other person feels about themselves, or their life than it does with us.  We can really drive ourselves crazy taking everything in life personally.  It’s often quite a relief to find out that most of the time it wasn’t about us at all. 

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Going with the Flow

I have a little pocket calendar that I use to keep track of important dates, events, appointments, etc.  I look at it often to see what is going on for the week, I don’t typically rely on a calendar so much, but during these times with so many changes and things going on, I can’t keep my mind straight!  What has surprised me, especially in the last few months, is how many changes I have made to my calendar…this led me to write about an important topic.

Over the last few months ever since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, I have found myself erasing many plans out of my pocket calendar, not only that, I have found myself needing to add unexpected events to my calendar as well.  This happens of course in general, because life is ever-changing, however even more so in the last several months.  I think we all realize how much life changes, but having the “proof” right there in front of you is very eye-opening.

I have always been the kind of person that loves to have a routine and to have things planned out.  I know that some people are very go with the flow and they like adventure and spontaneity, and while I enjoy these things occasionally, if I don’t have a stable routine and plans laid out, I become very unsettled and anxious.

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One thing that I have learned is that we can plan all we want, but life is going to unfold as it should regardless of the plans that we make.  Life can change for us in a matter of seconds, hours, days, it is always evolving and although we have control over many aspects of our lives, we don’t for others.  I suppose this constant change makes life interesting, keeps us on our toes, and helps us grow as a human being.

One thing for sure, one good and very helpful quality to have is being able to just take it easy and go with the flow.  When things don’t work out as planned, I still tend to get anxious and disappointed by it, but I am learning to be more patient and to remind myself that if something does, or does not happen, that it was just meant to be that way.  It’s not easy, but try just going with the flow and see how that can bring peace to your life.

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Rose-Colored Glasses

Recall the phrase “to see things through rose-colored glasses.” This positive look to life is not always to our benefit as ironic as it sounds. The phrase itself means to view, or to see life positively, seeing the good, being optimistic, being more carefree. While it is an excellent way of going through life, there needs to be a balance of seeing the good vs. seeing the full picture.

For most of my adult life, I have been more of the glass half-full, positive, happy, optimistic kind of girl. Of course depending on what life throws at me, I will definitely have my days, but overall I tend to remain mostly positive. In terms of this phrase, I do tend to see life and the people in it through “rose-colored glasses”. I can tell you firsthand that although most of the time this is a great approach in life, it has caused quite a few problems as well.

I am a firm believer in being positive and looking on the bright side of things and while this is in my nature, it is also self-taught, and was instilled in me at a young age. I feel like when I encounter situations, or people in life, I view them as seeing the good by fault. Of course, I realize that not all situations are good and neither are all people, but it is in my nature to hone in on the good so much that I tend to cover up the bad. This is something that I would like to change, so that I can develop more of a sense of what is real and genuine vs. only seeing the good. I feel like you can’t really go wrong with looking for the positives in certain situations, except maybe when you allow yourself to stay in a bad situation because you are only looking at the pluses. Where I feel this would really help me is when dealing with other people.

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When I first meet someone and start to get to know them, I of course see both the good and human sides to them, no one is perfect, or without flaws, however I tend to just focus on their good traits, so much so that I may let that overshadow signs that they may not be a loyal or genuine person. It’s almost like me telling myself “This person has been there for me in the past and just because they are doing x, y, and z now, doesn’t mean that they are not genuine.” It’s like I see signs, but I try to focus only on the good that person has done for me and that is sometimes a mistake.

My hope is to be able to see people for who they really are, good and bad, not only just focusing on the good. There have been signs thrown at me here and there, yet I tend to choose to counteract it, sometimes I even negate it. One day at a time and one lesson at a time, I will work on it. It’s wonderful to view life with rose-colored glasses, but make sure to take them off once in a while!

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An Inspiring Quote

             Someone recently sent me a quote that read “When asked if my cup is half-full, or half-empty, my only response is that I am thankful to have a cup.” – Sam Lefkowitz.  I am a true lover of quotes and I had never seen this one before.  It really hit me and opened my eyes.

          Many of us have heard the question of “Is your cup half-full, or half-empty?” Basically it means, do you see life and is your mindset more of a positive one (half-full), or is it more of a not-so positive approach (half-empty).  Of course, this doesn’t always hold true, sometimes it’s just a matter of perception.

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   Life can definitely get me down, but I like to and I try to approach life with the glass half-full mindset.  When I saw this quote, it made the phrase take on a whole new meaning.  This quote by Sam Lefkowitz took it to a whole different level by saying that he was just happy enough to even have a cup regardless.  As I mentioned before, I look very deeply at life and I ponder a lot of what I think, see, hear, and feel.  This had me thinking and applying this quote to my everyday life and just life in general.

        So many times we hear people say “I hate my job,” “My house is so cluttered,” or “My car has a lot of issues.”  While these things are no doubt stressful and such an annoyance, this quote can help us see our stressors in a different way, on a more positive note.  Positivity is even harder when we are down, or stressed, we tend not to focus on the positive as we deal with issues at hand, but it can really allow us to see our situations in a different light.  That job that we hate? Someone is wishing and praying for one right now.  The messy house that we have? Some people are living on the streets in poverty and would take any form of shelter they could get.  That car that is causing us trouble? There are some people out there that have lost their car, or are not able to afford one.  I say these things to in no way minimize our struggles, stress, and hardships, but rather help us to see our burdens in a different way and to see what a life-changer it can be to truly be grateful for all that we have!

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