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Manage your emotional triggers

Nov. 23, 2020

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A trigger is an emotional reaction to someone else’s behaviour. Those reactions can be tough to anticipate, but when you know what’s likely to set you off, you can be prepared going in.  

Examples of emotional triggers

Not everyone responds in the same way. Some people may be fine sitting with someone who is crying, for example, but find anger hard to take. 

To get you thinking, here are a few emotions that might be triggers for you. What else do you find hard to deal with?

  • Passive-aggressive behaviour
  • Whining
  • Crying
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Silent treatment
  • Sarcasm
  • Deceit
  • Arrogance
  • What else?

How do you manage emotional triggers?

Follow this 4-step exercise to take stock of your own response to emotions and plan for next time:

  1. Which emotional reactions can you deal with easily? Identify what you’re already good at dealing with to help get a sense of the tools you already have.
  2. Which emotional reactions do you have a hard time with? Take a look at the list above or think about times in your life you’ve reacted badly to other people's emotions. 
  3. What is it that’s challenging to you about those emotions? Think about times you’ve dealt with this before and had a hard time. What was your thought process? Why was it hard?
  4. What factors might help you deal with them better? Think about a time you dealt with this trigger well. What helped? Was it the environment, your emotional state or something else?

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