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Triggered? 4 steps to increase self-awareness

I'm definitely not one for listicles, especially since I tend to have a lot to say when it comes to well, a lot. But as I finished this entry, I realized that there are only 4 steps to increasing self-awareness, even in a triggered state.


Maybe:

  • you've had to repeat yourself for the 15th time

  • you woke up on the wrong side of the bed

  • you didn't sleep at all

  • you haven't eaten yet

  • someone said something you don't agree with

  • you're around people who send you into a state of hyper-vigilance

Whatever it is - you are not alone.


Most of us have experienced a "triggering" moment which, defined by a Healthline article, is:

"something that affects your emotional state, often significantly, by causing extreme overwhelm or distress. A trigger affects your ability to remain present in the moment. It may bring up specific thought patterns or influence your behavior."

I love that this definition states that a trigger can 1. affect one's ability to maintain presence and 2. bring up patterns that influence our behavior. Have you ever felt like you've had the same conversation one million times? I definitely have. The 4 steps below will ground you in the present moment and shift how you respond to certain events, people, places, or things therein shifting the overall pattern.


  1. Notice mind

  2. Notice body

  3. Breath

  4. Find love


1. Notice what is triggering you.

Different examples: facial expression, tone, judgement, miscommunication, misunderstanding, confusion


2. Notice your body's response to the trigger.

Different examples: faster heart rate, shortness of breath, tight chest, locked out knees, ungrounded stance, shaky, heated


3. Breath to assist dissipation of physical manifestations.

Here are some breathing exercises (pranayama):

  • 3-5 slow belly breaths | bring awareness to the belly and breath slowly

  • 4-7-8 breath | inhale 4, hold 7, exhale 8

  • box breath | inhale 4, hold 4, exhale 4, hold 4

  • sitali cooling breath | {inhale / exhale with curled tongue (alternative: exhale with whistle lips)

4. Find love.


Many times there is a root, or source, of pain, or suffering when triggered. Maybe it's feelings of fear, shame, guilt, rejection, or all of the above. These feelings were helpful before, and we thank them and release them as they no longer serve us. Once you find the feeling, acknowledge it and allow it to sit next to love and compassion.


In order to cultivate this love and compassion, sometimes you'll find it in:

  • momentarily leaving the space that is causing you stress

  • feeling seen and heard by having a conversation with a compassionate friend or family member

  • standing your ground, or creating space for your thoughts and feelings even when it’s uncomfortable

  • seeking professional help

  • holding space and silence before responding to something, or someone, that hurts you


The goal is to increase your awareness so you can move with more ease from a triggered state to a state of love and compassion for your self and the moment.


No matter what path you choose, as long as love is at the root, you will shine.