Whenever I discuss emotional triggers in Emotional Intelligence training or coaching, it is often the first time people have given it serious thought.
I was the same. Whilst I was well aware of the term and had been sharing the knowledge, I hadn’t put my own emotional triggers under the microscope. When I did the results were quite startling. I realized that when I feel under extreme pressure or overwhelmed I can withdraw in the moment. Not very useful if you are a trainer! I also realized that if I don’t communicate my needs clearly and I repress emotions, they will sometimes explode at a later inopportune time!
Identifying your emotional triggers means being aware of those moments when you are about to lose control of your emotions. It also helps to try and understand what causes the trigger in the first place.
In Maria Shriver’s Sunday paper, the writer Stacey Lindsay has a conversation with therapist Miyume McKinley. She describes why we need to understand the impact of our emotional triggers:
“We need to understand our own triggers and be aware of what we call in therapy our vulnerability factors: the things that make us more emotionally sensitive overall (i.e., illness, divorce, family problems, etc.). When we do not know our triggers, we are more likely to respond from [what we call in therapy] emotional mind which often leads to impulsive behaviors fueled by pure emotion. When we respond while in emotional mind, we rarely are thinking of the consequences of our behaviors. That is why having a better understanding of ourselves is a critical part of this conversation. The more you understand your triggers, the less likely you are to respond from an emotionally charged place that can have negative consequences.”
When we understand our triggers, we can take steps to calm ourselves or stop ourselves from reacting negatively in the moment. In Emotional Intelligence self-regulation is the way we learn to better control our emotional triggers. Our triggers are all completely unique, but they will usually happen when we are under extreme stress or pressure.
It is important to clarify that this is not about repressing emotions – that’s the last thing you want to do. It’s about expressing your emotions in a healthy way and at the right time.
Once you have identified your emotional triggers, you can take steps to manage them. You won’t always win. Emotions are powerful and it’s challenging to bring them under control. But if you want to develop as a person and if you are in a leadership role, you owe it to yourself to try. It is also empowering. Every time I feel my triggers coming into play and I make the choice not to react, I feel a sense of victory. A sense of personal power – that I am in charge of my emotions and not the other way around.
I hope you learn to identify your emotional triggers and gain control of them – it empowers you and benefits all those with whom you come into contact.
For further information on the EBW assessment that identifies the 8 traits that predict success in the workplace, or if you would like me to run a training day on Emotional Intelligence, please get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 085 727 2135.