Desi Aragon

Modern Day Muse

Getting Un-Triggered

Dear Desi, What’s a “quick fix” when we get triggered to put ourselves back to center?

Oh yes, this is one of my favorite things to ponder. First, when we say trigger let’s be clear that we are not talking about anything violent mentally or physically. In this blog post we are referring to an emotional response we get from something someone says or does. Essentially, our brain takes an event and decides that the event is worthy of a specific emotion. We usually use the word when we are negatively triggered – or in other words, when feel mad, bad or annoyed.

After being triggered, the easiest way to get back to center is to meditate. It works. Sometimes, however, we either don’t have the time or the inclination to meditate. So, for those on the more impatient, or heavy thinking side, might enjoy a few other tips.

First, breathe. Yep, take a nice deep breathe. Often times, when we get triggered we forgot to breathe which causes us to cut off much needed oxygen in our brain and have a fight or flight response. Breathing allows us to re-engage our thinking brain.

Next, tap two fingers together. Just liking breathing, we can engage our more rationale brain by concentrating on a simple task rather than the triggering event. When you tap two fingers together you are distracting the neurotransmitters that want to freak out over the trigger and you are re-directing them to the action of tapping. Kind of cool, isn’t it?

Finally, realize that in order to be triggered we have to tell ourselves a story about what occurred. The event happens (a door gets slammed shut), we tell ourselves a story about the event (the door slammer is mad at me) we feel triggered and we react. If you want to put yourself back to center, rewind the tape of what occurred and either tell yourself a new story (the door slammer might be in a hurry) or better yet remove the story altogether and just notice the fact (the door slammed shut). By removing the story from our response process, we are able to better manage our response.

We humans are far from perfect, so we can be pretty certain that stuff is going to happen that will cause a reaction in us. It’s not about eliminating triggers, it is about finding techniques that help reduce their impact on our responses. Practicing any or all of these steps will reduce the trigger factor exponentially over time.

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