Negative Triggers

The Scream, 1893 by Edvard Munch

The Scream, 1893 by Edvard Munch

Between stimulus and response lies a space. In that space lie our freedom and power to choose a response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.

Things didn't go your way. Life happens. You're stressed.

You cannot control these external events, but there lies a space between stimulus and response, an opportunity to choose how you react to negative triggers and regulate your emotions

There are 3 steps.

1. Identify the emotion

The first step is to pinpoint the exact emotional state you're in and remind yourself that this is just a state.

Emotions are just patterns in our body (rate of breathing, blood flow), and with interoceptive awareness, we can gain control over these emotions

There are five main categories of negative emotions

  1. Anxiety: worry, fear, nervosity, panic, etc.
  2. Anger: irritation, frustration, rage, etc.
  3. Guilt: culpability, remorse, etc.
  4. Sadness: despair, hopelessness, etc.
  5. Shame: embarrassment, humiliation, etc.

Find the closest word to describe how you feel.

2. analyze the emotional trigger

Take time to go deeper and understand the underlying mechanics that connect the trigger to the negative emotion.

Be honest with yourself. What are the things you feel you are not getting. What need isn't met?

Below is a list of the most common unmet needs by Dr. Marcia Reynolds:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Attention
  3. Autonomy
  4. Balance
  5. Being in control
  6. Being liked
  7. Being needed
  8. Being right
  9. Being treated fairly
  10. Being understood
  11. Being valued
  12. Comfort
  13. Consistency
  14. Feel included
  15. Freedom
  16. Fun
  17. Independence
  18. Love
  19. New challenges
  20. Order
  21. Peacefulness
  22. Predictability
  23. Respect
  24. Safety

Choose three unmet needs from this list.

When combined together, they form an equation which results in your negative emotional trigger.

Ex: deadline was moved up without checking with you

trigger = lack of consistency + respect + feeling included

Come up with your equation.

3. shift your emotional state

Now that you know your emotional state, and analyzed the trigger, it's time to shift.

Choose to feel something different.

You can try these exercises to change your mood

  1. walking meditation: find a quiet place to walk slowly while letting go of the emotions attached to the trigger. focus on the sensations of standing and the movements that keep your balance
  2. conscious breathing: breath to relax your body and mind. focus on one word which represents how you want to feel.
  3. practice gratitude: think about three things you're grateful for

There are many other exercises.

The main thing is the belief that even though you're not in control of these situations, you can regulate your emotions.