At Symmetry Counseling, the professionals understand that emotional triggers can change the direction of a conversation in a heartbeat. Certain events can push buttons and lead people to act out of their normal character. Dr. Anne Malec, of Symmetry, says this can happen to anyone, and it’s very commonplace. However, there are steps people can take to manage their triggers and turn a challenging situation into one they can overcome.
Understanding Emotional Triggers
Emotional triggers are experiences that can draw individuals back into past memories, or cause old feelings to resurface. For example, a song could bring up memories of high school, or a perfume could act as a reminder of a passed loved one.
Look for external causes. Some triggers are social, while others are situational. Consider a person eating more around the holidays, or how an upset significant other can affect a person’s mood.
Pinpoint internal causes. In time, most anything can be internalized. Old feelings or conflicts can be stored inside, and affect a person’s ability to live in the moment and love with their whole heart. Be aware of those things that are kept bottled up or have stuck around from the past.
Know that everyone has them. Nearly every person in the world has some sort of trigger that will “set them off” or cause old emotions to rise to the surface. This is not a unique situation, and is very common among people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds.
Accept differences. No two people are exactly alike. Everyone has their own set of triggers, preferences, and habits. When managing one’s own internal conflicts, be aware of others. This appreciation of variety can help improve communication and relationships when working to improve one’s own self.
Managing Emotional Triggers
Write it down. Keeping a journal of emotional flashbacks can help individuals recognize their feelings, and eventually master them. Consider writing down when intense emotions arise, or when engaging in unsavory behaviors. Also make a note of what is happening inside the mind, as well as external surroundings during these difficult times.
Stay challenged. Change is frequently seen in people during challenging times. It is important to remain open to trying something new and taking more constructive approaches to situations.
Know the limits. Don’t jump into challenging situations right away. Work on self-improvement at a proper pace. This is not a race. Begin by trying to become a bit more assertive with those who are closest, like a spouse or sibling. This is a good way to practice speaking clearly and constructively before asking to speak with a boss, for example, who is setting off triggers. Keeping calm is the key to overcoming these emotions, so start small, and with those who are most understanding.
Look for alternatives. Use downtime to explore alternative ways to approach high-pressure situations. Consider listing out enjoyable activities that can be done, rather than succumbing to negative coping strategies, like emotional eating or shopping.
Set time aside. Make relaxing a priority. When working to overcome emotional barriers, it is important to create a calm environment to retreat to. Managing stress will likely make it easier to handle difficult situations with a clearer head. Try starting the day with meditation, or listen to an all-time favorite song on the drive to work.
Talk to a professional. Professional counselors and therapists can give important insight to anyone dealing with emotional triggers. They are trained to find causes and offer strategies to move past these roadblocks.
Be healthier. One of the easiest ways to feel better about one’s self and to have a more positive outlook is to live a healthy lifestyle. Eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising regularly can all contribute to an improved sense of wellbeing. These habits can help many people be better prepared to face obstacles and bounce back from challenges.
Create a support network. Family and friends are crucial in times of difficulty. They can help individuals feel comforted, cared for, and validated. The professionals at Symmetry explain that when one is dealing with tough issues, it is important to know that they have people who care and who want to help.
Offer compassion. The more a person knows about their own individual triggers, the more insight they can have on others who are struggling with similar challenges. Focus on becoming more patient and forgiving others, and in the majority of cases, the same courtesy will be sent back in return.
According to Chicago’s relationship specialists, recognizing emotional triggers is the first step to overcoming them. When faced with obstacles, the professionals at Symmetry Counseling suggest trying behaviors and actions that can help to keep extreme emotions under control.
Set emotional goals. After becoming aware of feelings, individuals can start making changes in their weakest areas. Consider asking for feedback to help gain deeper insight into areas for improvement, or where a person has already made great strides. Use these benchmarks to continually improve and set goals for the future.
Breath deeply. Deep breathing is a reliable way to induce a sense of calm. When emotions are overcoming the rational mind, stop, close the eyes, picture a peaceful image, and breathe in feelings of calm.
Add more leisure. Never forget that laughter is a great medicine that can help address feelings of stress, anxiety, or anger. Look for opportunities to add more leisure activities into everyday routines.
Emotions are the foundation of every individual. People have the ability to enjoy positive ones, or endure difficult ones. However, with proper instruction and desire, people can learn to regulate them and overcome improper emotions to cultivate healthier, more fulfilling relationships with those they love.
Based in Chicago, Illinois, Symmetry helps families, couples, and individuals work through obstacles to find positive, constructive solutions. You can find more about their services here. Dr. Anne Malec, and the clinical team at Symmetry Counseling offer clients support for a broad range of challenges by offering individual, couple, and family counseling.