Hello friends, I was thinking through a few things and among them, the most prominent thought circulating in my mind was that – ‘all of us at some point in time do give away our unconscious or extemporary reaction to certain situations or people from the position of emotional discomfort or stress’.

There is no denying that we deal with our unique fair share of negative triggers as we go along. So I wanted to explore some simple ways to manage these, so you can remain calm even when things are chaotic or a bit emotionally uncomfortable. This is something, I thought through, Let us get started –

Impulsive Triggers

It’s easy to stay calm when things are under control. But, sometimes, life happens and you encounter gas-lighting people or happenings. For example:- Certain deadlines are moved up or your vacations are jeopardised or you feel that your trust is broken or maybe your flight /train is cancelled or someone has ridiculed you in an inappropriate setting. 

The scenarios can be countless but all of them have the potential to generate emotional discomfort. But what happens is that suddenly, your heartbeat goes faster. You can feel the tension in your muscles. Your breathing accelerates. That’s the time when things can go potentially complicated. In other words either you are stressed or overthinking the issues with unilateral coloured interpretations.

Psychologists often say that our freedom lies in the gap between stimulus and response. Although you cannot control many of the external events that impact your life. However, we do have an opportunity to choose – how we react to negative triggers and regulate our emotions. Below is a beautiful pictorial representation which tells the whole story of our tipsy-turvy state –

1. Identify the emotion

Everything ( literally everything) starts with identification. When we’re stressed or indulged in an overthinking mode often due to external factors beyond our control – this straight way has the potential to translate into anger, disappointment, or resentment. 

👉 The first step is to pinpoint exactly what emotional state you’re in and to remind yourself that this is just a state, which means that you have the power to alter it.

Neuroscientist explains how the relationship between the body and the mind shapes our conscious experience. More specifically in simple terms, what we identify as emotions are just patterns in our body, such as our rate of breathing, our blood flow, or constriction in our gut. By becoming aware of these patterns, a skill called interoceptive awareness can give you control back over the overwhelming negative emotions.

I want you to start by considering the five main categories of negative emotions:

  • Anxiety: worry, fear, nervosity, panic, etc.
  • Anger: irritation, frustration, rage, etc.
  • Guilt: culpability, remorse, etc.
  • Sadness: despair, hopelessness, etc.
  • Shame: embarrassment, humiliation, etc.

Try and find the closest word possible to describe how you feel. This is not about judging the emotion. You are just putting a label on it to illuminate the relationship between your body and your mind. Once you found the right word, move on to the next step.

2. Analyze the emotional trigger

The trigger may seem obvious at first glance. Maybe someone was rude to you or you felt that your trust was punctured or someone unexpectedly put you on a line of fire and many more countless scenarios. Still, it is crucial to take time to go deeper and understand the underlying mechanics that connect the trigger to the negative emotion.

You need to approach this step from a place of genuine curiosity. Be honest with yourself and ask what are the things you feel you are not getting. Or What is the need that isn’t met?

I came across a nice work of Organizational psychologist Dr. Marcia Reynolds who created a list of the most common unmet needs, which can be a great place to start. Do you need…

  • Acceptance
  • Attention
  • Autonomy
  • Balance
  • Being in control
  • Being liked
  • Being needed
  • Being right
  • Being treated fairly
  • Being understood
  • Being valued
  • Comfort
  • Consistency
  • Feel included
  • Freedom
  • Fun
  • Independence
  • Love
  • New challenges
  • Order
  • Peacefulness
  • Predictability
  • Respect
  • Safety

I was reading the work of Dr. Reynolds who recommends choosing three unmet needs from this list. These unmet needs, when combined makes an equation which results in your negative emotional trigger. For instance, let’s say that your superior has suddenly changed plans without consulting with you. Your equation could look something like this: 👇

  1. 👉😡 trigger = lack of consistency + respect + feeling included Or, if you’ve been suddenly asked to deliver a big presentation without much time to prepare, it could look like this: 👇

2. 👉😡 trigger = lack of predictability + peacefulness + being in control

I want you to take out few minutes and think about a recent stressful experience, and see if you can come up with your equation for this specific event.

3. Shift your emotional state

Let me file a Caveat – This is the most difficult but at the same time most desirable-driver which can comfort amid your strong tides of emotional discomfort. Now that you’ve recognised your emotional state and analyzed the trigger, you have the power to actively shift your emotional state. Remember the gap between stimulus and response? This step is about consciously choosing to feel something different while negative emotions are at their best.

Depending on where you are in your physical and emotional state, you can use one of the following exercises to effectively change your mood:

  • Walking meditation. Wherever you are, start to walk slowly in your space while letting go of the emotions attached to the negative trigger. Focus on the sensations of standing and the movements that keep your balance & mind stay distracted from active processing of the negative emotions. 
  • Conscious breathing. Breathe to relax your body and clear your mind, developing a soft awareness of your breath as it moves in and out of your body. To replace the negative emotional trigger with something positive, it can be helpful to focus on one word which represents how you want to feel and to keep breathing in and out while visualizing the word.
  • Gratitude practice: Gratitude has many benefits and I do it regularly, including a positive impact on relationships, work performance, and even physical health. Simply think about three things you’re grateful for and speak over to yourself or write them down in your notes or your journal. This is the most impactful ‘ antibiotic’ to keep the bacteria of negative emotions at bay. 

As always, there’s no quick hack that applies to everyone. Just like a scientist, try different techniques and see which ones work best for you. 

It may sound cheesy, but it does boil down to one belief: that even though you’re not in control of these stressful external events, you can regulate your emotions ( remember my caveat – it’s the hardest part but worth inculcating as a powerful skill to succeed in any field ).

Even if you don’t apply the exact techniques outlined above, this belief is itself powerful enough to help you manage those negative triggers.

Take good care & enjoy reading a healthy dose of ‘Mindful Productivity & Cerebral Happiness’.


Do follow the ‘JOE’s Life Skills Lab and get yourself enrolled in my E-Mail Newsletter  SUNDAY RETAZOS” sent exclusively to my subscribers with weekly updates on Mindful Productivity, life lessons and interesting articles, I discover during the Week. I AM SURE YOU DO NOT LIKE TO MISS OUT ON THIS 

Get in touch… — JOE’s LIFE SKILLS LAB/Joe Sehrawat

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