5 strategies to manage your triggers

The way your brain reacts to situations is nothing more than a habit. If you tend to become angry in an instant, it's because you have allowed your brand to react in that way so many  times that is has become accustomed to it. That is your normal. 

Many of us reactive habits, I certainly have mine. My go to is indifference. Rather than an emotional response, I tend to shut down with apathy in the lead. Sometimes, this serves me well because being logical gives me a chance to assess which emotion if any should be displayed. 

On the other side, my absence of emotion looks to others as nonchalant. It appears that I don't care when that is most certainly not the case. Well, sometimes it is but I don't want to give off energy that says I am not interested - or emotionally unattached. 

plants evolve and grow like our development

If you have a habit if reacting negatively to situations, the good news is that you can change how your brain reacts. The beautiful plants above grew from seeds. If you want new flowers all you have to do is change the seeds that you plant. You can do that right now.

What do you think about the idea of changing the pattern you've spent moths (or years) living in make you feel? Does it feel overwhelming at first? I get it. It's new. It takes you out of your comfort zone. Take one step at a time. It's a journey that will serve you well. Here are a few strategies to get you started:

5 Ways to Nurture New Ways of Reacting When You're Upset

Take a Breath

When you feel triggered, stand in courage. Take a deep breath to give yourself a moment to feel your emotions and then gather your thoughts. Your feelings are real, to you. They may not always be rooted in facts so allow yourself a moment to process before reacting. Some of the most heated arguments happen in the moment your brain reacts before your mind and spirit can catch up.

If someone upsets you, or something makes you angry, it is reasonable to experience those emotions. However, how you react to those emotions is the key to staying in control. Take a moment for breath to clear the path. 

Talk It Out

People will say things that will make you feel angry. Loved ones may do something that disappoints you. If you have a partner or children, you undoubtedly know this to be true. However, it is never appropriate to lash out with venom words that hurt. Once you go on the verbal attack, it is difficult to retreat. 

Have you ever read the book, The Four Agreements by Dr. Don Miguel Ruiz? One of the four agreements that I do my best to live by is the practice of not taking anything personally. When I am triggered, I take a deep breath and remind myself that their behavior is not about me. No matter how much it may feel like it is, more often than not...it isn't.  

The Four Agreements:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word: Speak with integrity and carefully choose words before saying them aloud.
  2. Don't Take Things Personally: The notion that each individual has a unique worldview that alters their own perceptions, and that the actions and beliefs of a person is a projection of their own personal reality.
  3. Don't Make Assumptions: When one assumes what others are thinking, it can create stress and interpersonal conflict because the person believes their assumption is a representation of the truth.
  4. Always Do Your Best: Have better insight on achieving progress towards their goals in life. This agreement entails integrating the first three agreements into daily life and also living to one's full potential.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to take a moment to think before you speak. Give the person grace, perhaps their words or actions aren't intended to offend. As long as there is a possibility of a misunderstanding, it is worth not reacting negatively.

Words matter. Words have power. Words stick to the memory like crazy glue. They stay in our psyche long after the apology has been accepted.  Andrea A. Callahan, The S..M.A.C.K. Attack

No matter the reason, talking it out and establishing boundaries are both healthy ways to deal with the situation while training your brand to be less reactive.

Be Gracious

The brain reacts very quickly to irritations. When a driver cuts you off in traffic for example, do you immediately react in anger or annoyance? If so, why? More importantly, what do you do with those negative emotions? Do you carry them on into work? Do you allow that experience to govern the rest of your day? Does everyone now irritate you? No judgement...this used to be me!

Back in the day, I used to drive from Nyack, a suburb of New York City to Wards Island, a 35 minute drive that regularly takes 90-minutes during rush hour traffic. That daily commute required me to drive across two bridges and pass through a toll booth. Road rage was a consistent space for me. I would be wound up so tight by the time I arrived at the office or home I would have to sit in the car for a few minutes before I could go in indifferent.

Some days my head would hurt so bad that it was difficult for me to click it off and move on to the next phase of my day. One day, traffic was like a parking lot. It was a miserably hot day. You know the kind of heat that takes your breath away? Many passengers got out of their cars hoping to catch a breeze. I heard two people in the next lanes yelling to each other that there had been an accident. They were angry and un-phased about by the ambulance, fire trucks and helicopters flying about. This commotion was usually a sign the accident was critical.  I later learned someone died rushing to get their child to the hospital.

While I was listening to the other passengers I thought about how insensitive it was to care more about being late to a destination than caring if someone was injured in the accident. After I learned about the driver's death, I was incredibly sad that someone left home this morning to never return. That child has loss a parent and the surviving parent is left to do it alone. From that day to this one, I do not have road-rage. I operate a from a place of kindness and compassion because I don't know why the other driver is speeding. Even if they cut me off I say, "no worries, you go right ahead., perhaps your boss said if you're late one more time you're fired; or perhaps their child has been rushed to the emergency room; or maybe they are simply a reckless moron - either way, their driving is not about me personally, they aren't intentionally getting in my way. When all else fails, lead with empathy, be gracious.

Overcome Misunderstandings

Just as you can misread an experience or misinterpret what someone is saying, it is possible that it happens to someone about you. Brain reactions can create disagreements and hurt feelings, "on both sides." If you suspect someone has misunderstood your intention, circle back to make your point clear. Let the person know that you believe there may be a need to clear up things up. 

It may not be easy to train your brain to stop negatively reacting. Humans are emotional, and emotions are often hard to contain. Making this mindset shift will dramatically help you avoid volatile emotional outburst and improve your positive emotional responses. Industry Influencers are empowered and forever evolving to stay out front, and in the lead. 

Share your thoughts below. I would love to hear from you.


Andrea Callahan inspires passionate & purpose-driven brands to maximize their strengths to craft an image that represents their WHY, and then use that WHY to position themselves as Industry Influencers; who share experiences that attract their Ideal Buyers. Callahan is a speaker, seminar leader, and the author of, "It's Your Brand ~ Make Your Identity Clear." Callahan is also the principal brand manager @ACIagency, a high-end boutique, integrated-marketing agency, specializing in helping locally-owned brands share their WHY.

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