Do You Know Your Emotional Triggers?

Lately I've gotten into Non-Violent Communication - and it's really helping me understand how to be a better human. Essentially NVC is a technology of language that helps people   connect in a real way with one another and with ourselves. One aspect of NVC can be boiled down to this: When we are present and in our bodies (ie. we know what we're feeling and needing), we can connect to other people. When we're not present, we can't.

Sometimes its easy for me to stay present (ex. waking up on a Saturday morning beside Kati) and sometimes it's really hard (ex. late and stuck in traffic). Triggers are those perceived experiences that generate intense and sudden feelings, thus pulling us out of presence. I figure that if I can identify and disarm all my triggers I'll be able to be present more of the time, and thus have more fun and enjoy my life more. As a human I want to become "un-messable-with" which to me means able to stay present in any situation.

Since I started paying attention I've discovered a few sure-fire triggers that I walk around with, and I'm sure there are a bunch more that I'm not aware of yet (scary!). To be unmessablewith I need to identify and get rid of my triggers.

Emotional Triggers

My goal is to be able to recognize my triggers so I can see them and say to myself "Oh wait! I'm feeling mad/sad/scared again because trigger x happened, how can I re-frame this situation so I won't get mad/sad/scared next time?" Easier said than done.

Ok so here are my triggers that I know of right now, and that I'm practicing identifying and re-framing:

1. My "Woman Leaving" Trigger - I've noticed that whenever I'm in a heated conversation with a woman I care about, and she leaves the conversation, I get really mad.  I'm quite sure it has to do with a perceived rejection because the mad energy I feel is way out of proportion to anything in reality. Even if she is leaving to go to the restroom I'll probably still get triggered, so it seems to be the act of leaving that makes me temporarily insane. I'm getting pretty good at seeing this one in action and it's great to be able to anticipate it.  After 6 months of practice I'm often able to say to myself "Oh, looks like she's leaving the conversation, I'll probably feel some intense anger for the next few minutes" and sure enough I do, but because I know what's happening it's much easier to deal with.

2. My "I can't get Results" Trigger - I perceive that my ability to get results is threatened. This can happen in any number of situations, but usually happens at work when Kati and I disagree on something fundamental about Kindara. This one sends me into panic mode 'right quick and I'm currently less conscious of this one than the first, so I won't realize what happened until later, which can suck because I'll likely say or do something stupid in the interim. I'm working on identifying situations where I've been triggered by "I can't get results", and taking a time out before I do or say anything so I can calm down and get back to presence. The awareness I have so far is that if I'm feeling mad at work it's probably this trigger. I've got a long way to go, but my ultimate goal is to be close to 100% sure of my ability to get results in any situation, which would cause this trigger to vanish.

And that's my list so far! Those are the two that I can identify right now: a perceived sexual rejection, and a perceived inability to get results.

I suppose that makes sense! - in order for my DNA to reproduce I must be able to get results (ie. find food, water and shelter) and reproduce - so now that I've written them down it's not surprising to me that my brain goes temporarily insane when I perceive a threat to either ability.

I'm sure I have other triggers, so if you know me, please tell me what they are in the comments :) Or just feel free to write about some of yours.

Inner GameWill Sacks