3 Questions to Ask When Feeling Triggered



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Carl Thomas

Pastor | Live Free Founder | Lover of Jesus, Philly sports, fitness, tattoos, sarcasm, and craft beers.

Throughout our day, we often encounter situations that provoke intense emotional reactions.

These ‘triggers” can leave us feeling vulnerable and compelled to act in ways we might later regret such as viewing pornography. But what if we took a step back and asked ourselves some crucial questions when confronted with these emotional triggers?

By doing so, we can better understand our feelings and make more considered choices in response. The following are three key questions to ask when feeling triggered:

1) What happened today that made me feel uncomfortable?

The first step to gaining control over your emotional triggers is recognizing when they occur. Take a moment to reflect on your day and pinpoint the specific event or situation that stirred up your emotions. Maybe it was a heated argument with a colleague at work, a comment from a friend that hit a nerve, or even a news article that left you feeling anxious.

Identifying the trigger is essential because it allows you to separate the emotional reaction from the event itself.

For instance, imagine you had an argument with your partner. Instead of immediately reacting in anger or frustration, pause and ask yourself, “What about this argument made me emotionally uncomfortable?” It might be the feeling of not being heard or understood, or perhaps it’s a fear of conflict.

By honing in on the source of your discomfort, you’re already taking the first step in addressing the trigger.


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2) What is it about this triggering situation that really bothers me?

Once you’ve identified the triggering event, it’s time to dig deeper. What exactly about this situation is bothering you? Emotional discomfort can often be a result of underlying fears, insecurities, or unresolved issues. By probing into the core of your discomfort, you can gain insight into the true nature of your emotional response.

For example, let’s say the argument with your partner bothered you because it made you feel like your needs and feelings weren’t being validated. In this case, the true problem might be your deep-rooted feeling of worthlessness or the profound fear that you don’t matter; and it seems that your spouse is merely validating that fear.

By asking what truly bothers you, you can start to address the root causes of your emotional reactions.

3) When have I experienced similar discomfort in the past?

Our past experiences often hold the key to understanding our emotional triggers. If you’ve felt a similar discomfort in the past, it’s essential to recall those situations and examine the circumstances surrounding them. Often, our current triggers are linked to unresolved issues or traumatic events from the past.

Exploring these connections can help you gain a better perspective of your emotional responses.

Continuing with the example of the argument with your partner, you might remember that you’ve felt unheard in previous relationships as well. Recognizing this repetitive pattern can assist you in realizing that it goes beyond this specific disagreement, but rather points to a more profound concern linked to your fear of being inconsequential.

By examining your past, you can identify coping strategies, personal growth opportunities, and therapeutic resources that can help you resolve those emotional wounds and needs.

In the end, emotional triggers are a part of life, but they don’t have to control your reactions and decisions. By asking these three questions when you feel triggered, you can gain a deeper understanding of your emotions, pinpoint the source of your discomfort, and explore the connections to your past.

This self-awareness empowers you to make more thoughtful choices in how you respond to emotional triggers.

Remember that it’s perfectly normal to feel triggered from time to time. The key is to use these triggers as opportunities for self-reflection and personal growth. By doing so, you can learn to navigate your emotions more effectively, build healthier relationships, and lead a more fulfilling life.

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