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What Pushes Your Buttons? How to Manage Your Emotional Triggers

Gain emotional freedom from what pushes your buttons so you feel like this woman doing cartwheels on the beach“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.” – Rachel Naomi Remen

This time of year can be so stressful. Dark winter days, end of year demands, and celebrations with family who delight in pushing your buttons can all add up to unwanted stress. But it doesn’t have to be that way! You can learn how to understand, manage and take control of what pushes your buttons.

In the English language, there are so many ways to express how people set off your emotional triggers – pushing your buttons, getting your goat, rattling your cage, yanking your chain, throwing you off your game. And therein lies the truth of the whole matter…when you react badly to an event, it is common to blame the event or other person for your emotional reaction. “He makes me mad. She upset me. If that hadn’t happened…I wouldn’t have…”

While it may feel good to blame someone else, you’re cheating yourself of an opportunity to get to know yourself better and to change any behavior that is no longer serving you. When you think about it, this is tremendous. You have the power to turn off all of those buttons or emotional triggers. However, it will take a great deal of mindful effort to discover your untapped pools of inner strength and courage.

Emotional triggers are a manifestation of your own beliefs, feelings or views. That’s why my emotional triggers are different from what pushes your buttons. Yes, I still have some! Common ones revolve around:

  • Disrespecting personal space
  • Insults
  • Threats
  • Lies
  • Correction
  • False accusation
  • Being interrupted
  • Being ignored

We all have emotional triggers. You do and so do the people you encounter. It’s vital to be accepting of this fact. It doesn’t work to expect perfection from ourselves or others.

An emotional trigger is an experience that draws you back into the past and causes old feelings and behaviors to surface. For example, there may have been a time you were required to do something you didn’t want to do, but were forced to do it by an authority figure. Or you may have lacked confidence, so you couldn’t say “No!”  Now when you hear a demand, it triggers an unfavorable emotional response, even if it’s really just a poorly worded request.

How you think of yourself on the inside dictates how you behave and are perceived on the outside. Your unwanted emotional reactions can make you think that you’re weak and hopeless. But that isn’t the case at all!

When your buttons have been pushed and you feel yourself losing control, take a deep breath and mindfully let your mind sort through the event to see what’s really bothering you and what belief you can change to regain your emotional control.

Examine the situation that triggers your emotional reaction. You have three options for dealing with it: change the situation; change how you think and feel about the situation; or remove yourself from the situation.

Maybe you’re not in a position to immediately examine your emotions. What can you do then? Before the day ends, go to a quiet place and reflect on the episode. You might even want to journal about it, to gain the greatest clarity. Don’t edit yourself as you write. Just pour it all out. This will be most revealing. You’ll also have a written record that allows you to track behaviors or habits that you want to change.

When you know you have an emotional trigger, don’t avoid it; challenge yourself and keep trying to manage it. Plan how you’ll respond next time. “If Situation B arises I will do XYZ. This course of action supports my need to have a choice and be appreciated!”

Of course, you’ll want to be loving, kind and patient with yourself as you peel back your emotional layers. It will take time to make adjustments to your beliefs, feelings and values. Work at building a strong foundation of mental energy and physical wellness, as well as a supportive network of people; then you’ll be able to unplug those emotional triggers and turn off what pushes your buttons.

I’d love to be part of your supportive network. It’s one of my life’s pleasures to use Somatic Coaching to help my clients gain emotional freedom and reach their fullest potential in life. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

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I invite you to learn more about me and my coaching and counseling services. Please contact me to schedule an “It starts with you!” 30-minute complimentary consultation with me, in-person, by phone or via video consultation, so we can explore our partnership.


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