Identify Your Thinking Triggers for Better Results

Do you sometimes say or do something that’s totally out of character for you? And then you wonder WHERE did THAT come from? Have you ever had an experience where you suddenly felt angry or irritated? Do certain situations trigger you to feel self-doubt, worry, or anxiety? And have you noticed that once you’ve been triggered, it can be hard to get back on track?  Unfortunately, your thinking triggers can undermine you from being the person you really want to be, but you CAN learn to identify your thinking triggers for better results!

Triggers Influence Thoughts

We all have “triggers” that can cause us to react in predictable and not-so-unpredictable ways. Our thinking triggers are usually rooted in past experiences, fears, insecurities, or in the beliefs, and expectations we hold about ourselves or the world around us. When life doesn’t go the way we expect, these triggers can lead to emotional reactions and other negative outcomes.  

Most times, our triggers are subtly influencing our thoughts, choices, and actions in habitual and automatic ways. Usually, we’re not even aware of how these triggers are impacting our behavior, performance, relationships, and lives. 

SHOULD is a Trigger Word

We all have triggers about all kinds of things, but very often they boil down to something not meeting our expectations of how we THINK things SHOULD be.         

A simple example is how you THINK about TIME. So, TIME would be the trigger in this case. Your relationship with time might come from a parent who drilled it into you as a child that being on time is important. So now, many years later, how do you react when someone is late? Do you take it personally? Do you get frustrated or angry and does that show in your words or actions? You need to ask yourself, is your IDEA about time, more important than the relationships you have with people?

Another example is your idea about how someone SHOULD respect the RULES. Again, the trigger is your idea about the importance of rules and structure. Consider this scenario, what if you view a rule as “law” (even when it is not)? How then might you respond to someone who suggests a “creative” or “out-of-the-box” way to solve a problem, but from your perspective, they are taking a “shortcut”? On the other hand, what if RULES are something you try to avoid whenever possible? What could be the downside of viewing rules only as “guidelines”? Something for others, but not for you. How might this impact your ability to be a leader of a team or to get a promotion?

Negative Impact of Thinking Triggers

And lastly, a common and often devastating trigger is your own EXPECTATIONS of yourself, and how you think you SHOULD be. This trigger can cause you to feel that no matter how smart, educated, or accomplished you may be, you’re never good enough. Do you think this kind of trigger might keep you from trying new things?  How comfortable would you be sharing in your accomplishments, if you don’t feel you measure up to your OWN expectations of where you THINK you SHOULD be? How might this trigger impact your relationships with others? What might the world be missing out on, because you are holding back?

These are just a few examples of how TRIGGERS may be impacting you and possibly causing less-than-best outcomes in your relationships, your career, and your life.

Become More Consciously Aware

So what can you do if you are struggling with some of the thinking described here?  The solution might be easier than you think. 

The key is to become more consciously aware of when you are getting triggered, and reacting in habitual and automatic ways that may not be serving you well.

SHOULD is a Trigger Word

In reading this today, you may have noticed that the word SHOULD comes up frequently when we are talking about triggers. The word SHOULD is a clue that YOUR less-than-best thinking has been triggered. 

Consider how this works. 

Think of a situation in which you believe you were triggered. What happened following the thought around the word “SHOULD”?  What kind of thoughts were going through your mind? What did you say or do as a result of how you were thinking or feeling?  What was your body telling you? Did you make good choices and take good actions in that moment?  

Cost or Price You Pay

Let’s consider the example of TIME. A family member arrived late AGAIN to a planned family event. You took it personally. This was an important event. You felt frustrated and angry that they ALWAYS arrive late and SHOULD be there on time. You couldn’t help yourself and made a snide comment about being late again. The family member shrugged away with an excuse. 

What is the price you are paying when your triggers blow something out of proportion or skew your perspective to think that YOU are RIGHT and others are WRONG in how they view or do things?  

What’s the best possible outcome in the scenario described?  Does this improve your relationship with the family member who is late? What do your actions and words say about you? Who is observing you, and what are you teaching them about what is important? 

Ask Yourself, Who Do I Really Want to Be?

Now replay the whole scenario, but FIRST, ask yourself…what kind of person do I really want to be? How do I want to show up? Since you realize that having your family present is more important than the time they arrive, you take a different approach this time. 

So, the family member arrives late again to a planned family event. (This doesn’t change, only YOUR approach changes). You think about the kind of person you want to be and take a deep breath. You think about how glad you are that they were able to attend. This time you do not take it personally. You help them unload the car. You realize they have a lot of things on their mind. They apologize for being late. You tell them not to worry about it, you’re just glad they arrived safely.  

Which outcome do you believe creates more value and goodness?

Identify Your Triggers for Better Results

Learning to recognize your emotional and thinking triggers is an important step in managing your responses to avoid saying or doing things you may regret later. And while learning to identify the more subtle habitual and automatic triggers is a little more difficult, it’s immensely helpful to improve your THINKING, your outcomes, and the value you create.   

If you’d like to learn how to identify the thinking triggers that are getting in your way of achieving the results, relationships, and lifestyle you desire, complete our assessment and schedule a FREE introductory session with me.

Kristin Clark is a certified Axiogenics Coach and co-author of Living a Richer Life; It’s All in Your Head. Kristin has coached hundreds of people from a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs, industries, and professions. She teaches Valuegenic Self-Leadership, a powerful development program engaging, empowering, and igniting individuals’ and leaders’ potential to improve their performance, relationships, and quality of life. |