I'm a social scientist who helps people break out of the invisible traps and make whole-life changes easily and naturally.
How to Stop Getting Triggered
You’ve been there. Today is just a bad day. You keep getting triggered, lashing out at others, and then feeling guilty about it.
It’s so human to have good and bad days.
You don’t start the day with the intention of lashing out at others. You don’t want to act this way. It catches you by surprise and takes over.
When is the last time something just pushed your button and before you knew it, you were in a really different heated, emotional state? Usually, it’s a state of anger, but sometimes it can be shame, blame or guilt. These are your triggers.
Triggers can be big or small. It could be anything.
- Getting stuck in traffic
- Getting cut off while driving
- Crumb’s on the countertop when you get home from work
- A partner who leaves a cabinet open all the time
- Family members who leave the lights on
- Someone only using one space after a period instead of two
You get the idea. Often it’s something mundane and usually something someone else does. A quirk of some sort. Some people would call it their pet peeve.
One of my favorite quotes is from Carl Jung, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
Whenever I get triggered I get curious around why I reacted this way.
What’s really going on when you get triggered?
I’m going to share a secret you probably haven’t realized. Usually, you are triggered by something because you just saw your own shadow.
You saw out there in the world or in someone else the part of you that you don’t want to own. You don’t want to claim it, talk about it, feel it or experience it. And you certainly don’t want it to be seen.
When you see this part of yourself out in the world you freak out. You get triggered. Your ego reacts and fights against it. Your ego is really trying to keep you from waking up to a piece of yourself you have pushed aside for so long.
This is often a hard truth to realize. You don’t want to believe these things that bother you so much in others are also true of you.
Let me give you an example.
I hear from clients all the time about how hard it is to manage millennials. Clients tell me millennials want a lot of praise, how they are very entitled, and how they want to be CEO yesterday. We’ve all read these kinds of stereotypes about the millennial generation (which is an incredible generation by the way).
When you hear these statements the useful question is not “How do I manage other people’s sense of entitlement?” The question to ask yourself is how are you being entitled?
This is where your ego may want to ramp and fight back saying “Me entitled? No way!” But let’s open your perspective here.
How are you not owning that? You too want appreciation right? You want to be promoted too? So what might you also be entitled to?
Let’s flip it around and look at your entitlement in this example situation.
You might feel entitled to the idea that people who report up to you don’t constantly ask for appreciation. Or the people who report up to you are happy to stay in that position and they’re not trying to move ahead.
These are senses of entitlement.
The cycle goes like this. Early in your life you shadow something about yourself. You deny it is there. Later on, you see that part of yourself in someone else, unconsciously recognizing it as your shadow.
Deep in denial, your ego lashes out, you are triggered and you blame them.
How to Use Being Triggered to Learn About Yourself
The key to using triggering to learn about yourself is to shift the finger of blame and look at yourself. Ask yourself “How is that true of me?”
This needs to come from a place of creative curiosity, not a place of blame. Try to get hungry for learning from these moments without any self-criticism or judgment.
Think to yourself, “I just got triggered. How is this here for me? What can I learn from this? How is this true of me as well as true of them?”
Sometimes your triggering is completely a projection on them.
Something might only be true of you but you see it everywhere. You’ve created patterned ways of perceiving the world when you think often “why is everybody like x, y, x?” This is a really good indication you are triggered and likely projecting onto others.
As you might imagine, we tend to get triggered by those closest to us – our loved ones and families. Often, in our family, is where we have decided to shadow parts of ourselves. It’s no one’s fault. It’s a completely human process and it’s a gift.
The gift is you can wake up and see what else there is of you to love. You can reclaim it, own it and become more whole by learning from your triggers and reclaiming those parts of your shadow.
My fellow executive coach and friend, Luke Entrup, joins me in discussing your shadow and getting triggered. Luke is a certified Shadow Work coach and trainer. He shares with us a shadow work journaling exercise to help you get started on a path of discovering your shadow.
About this episode:
Do you find yourself in the same type of job or relationship over and over? Do little things trigger you and you lash out without meaning?
Do you see patterns in your life being repeated over and over again that are holding you back?
In this episode, Luke Entrup joins me to discuss how you can stop getting triggered and what you can learn about yourself when you do get triggered. Luke is certified in Shadow Work and we dig into how you can begin a process of looking at your triggers to reclaim your wholeness.
15:07 – Ways to understand shadow
18:39 – What is shadow
24:56 – How to learn when you are triggered
29:59 – How trauma shapes your beliefs
48:42 – Luke shares his shadow work exercise