Do you recognize your triggers?

Photo courtesy of CarbonNYC (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of CarbonNYC (Creative Commons)

If you stop and think about it, triggers affect us unconsciously every day and can change our whole perspective on the day.

Consider your drive in to work – when that guy (or gal) pulls out in front of you without even a wave, it can start a negative mood. Or what about the person who generously waits and waves you across lanes of traffic for that left turn? You smile and feel a little more positive about the world, don’t you?

Now what about that feeling you have when one of your favorite songs comes on the radio, or you smell the scent your grandmother wore. When you hear that annoying laugh of the busybody co-worker coming down the hall?

We face triggers all day every day. The trick is to be aware of them and start exercising more control over your reactions, especially the negative ones. Don’t let the negative triggers rule you – rule the triggers! Here are some ways to start taking control:

  • Take a deep breath – when that person cuts you off or the loud mouth announcer comes on – take a deep breath and let it flow off of you. No sense getting in a bad mood over such a little thing.
  • Admit that you are struggling – sometimes just telling a co-worker, friend or family member that you are having trouble with a trigger can help you deal more effectively with it. Admit that the action sends you over the edge, and even laugh about it. See, you’re starting to feel better already, right?
  • Ask for help – sometimes there is no way through a situation without stepping out of the situation. At my nonprofit, volunteers meet with clients to determine assistance for which they may qualify. Some types of people just trigger negative responses, and the only way to effectively help that person is to ask someone else to go in to the interview instead. That is ok if it means the person gets the help they need without the wrong attitude from you.

Imagine how many unfortunate situations could be avoided if we were more aware of our negative triggers! And just think about how much more pleasure we could derive from life if we take opportunities to seek out those positive triggers.

One of the things I try to do when I feel too many negative triggers is to plug in my earphones and listen to music. But not just any music will work. When I’m feeling out of sorts, upbeat music that reminds me of a friend or a fun event will lift me out of my funk in no time. Just like calming music can sooth my nerves when I’m jittery or frazzled. Triggers can work for the good.

Half of the battle is being aware of triggers and having some plans to counteract them instead of letting them ruin your day. Plan a few positive triggers to have handy and you’ll be in business.

What are some of your triggers?