Life is full of people, situations and things that will trigger you. No one else is like you. You have your unique perspective and your unique expression. Life is not designed for us all to be the same, with the same values, views, opinions, thoughts, feelings and actions. It is natural to anticipate that there will be PLENTY of external experiences that will trigger you as they push hard up against what you believe to be “right” and “good”. In these situations, there is nothing at all wrong with the experience, there is also nothing wrong with the trigger that has pushed your buttons, and furthermore there is nothing wrong with you for feeling the way you do.
Having said that, you are FULLY responsible for how you to react to life whenever you are triggered by something that doesn’t align to what you believe to be “right” and “good”. Most people live in a constant cycle of painful reactions to such experiences. Someone says something you don’t like, and BOOM… you painfully react like a volcano erupting. Someone does something you don’t like, and you allow your ego to judge them, and to make yourself righteous, and to look upon the situation and person with distaste. You may not even say anything, but the look on your face could be enough to express your pain and displeasure.
Any reaction to life that is unconscious (ie. default, auto-pilot, habitual and not chosen from loving consciousness) is going to create some level of pain for yourself and possibly also for the people around you. That is never going to serve you well.
So, you have a choice. Your life is one long timeline of choices. Your choices define the quality of your life experience, and flow into your outcomes for your health, emotional wellbeing, psychological wellbeing, and overall energy vibration (which has a massive impact on your life results professionally, interpersonally, financially, and so on).
Here are 13 simple steps to practise for instantly transforming your pattern of painful reactions to people, situations and things that trigger you, into peaceful responses that serve you and move you forward powerfully.
1) Identify Your Triggers
What people, behaviours, words, opinions, beliefs, situations, things, experiences are guaranteed to “get a rise out of you” (ie. to generate a negative reaction within you).
2) Understand Why it Triggers You
Look closely at why it triggers you. What triggers you may not trigger another person. You are unique. It is YOU that is the cause of your painful reaction, not the trigger. The trigger just is what it is! Your reaction to the trigger is the root problem.
3) Understand Your Habitual, Unconscious Reaction Pattern
Exactly what is your habitual response to that trigger? What pattern has been ingrained that you repeat… Do you erupt in anger? Do you feel hurt? Do you close down and fester on negative thoughts and feelings? Do you vent frustration in unhealthy ways? Do you complain, moan, blame, become moody or aggressive?
4) Understand the Present Emotional Cost of Your Reaction
LOOK VERY CLOSELY at the cost to you of that unconscious reaction… there is ALWAYS a cost, and it is ALWAYS to your detriment. What price are you paying? Look at how your arising negative emotion impacts your state of mind, how you feel afterwards, your health, your stress levels.
The impetus to choose peaceful responses in each coming moment is never simply to seek the pleasure of being a good person. The human psyche finds avoidance of pain a much more motivating factor! So once you realise that a peaceful response is about avoiding a significant cost to you, you are much more likely to choose it over your habitual painful reaction.
5) Understand the Flow-on Impact for Yourself and Others
Consider what flow-on impact your painful reaction has long after the trigger situation has passed. How is the negativity flowing out with ripple effect to other people and into all areas of your life? Is your painful reaction impacting your loved ones? Are you role modelling for people around you behaviours that are harmful and limiting? Is your health suffering from holding tension in your body? Is your valuable, precious time on this planet being wasted in negativity?
6) Acknowledge That Triggers Will Not, and Do Not Need To, Disappear
Peace comes from within. Life is not about escaping your triggers. Life is about noticing them and letting them exist while choosing a peaceful response and moving on. This does not mean you have to stay within the vicinity of what triggers you. By all means move on and move away from people, situations and things that you do not like. But before you do, you are called upon to be at peace in the face of it, and then from that peaceful place you have more energy, empowerment and clarity to see the best way to extricate yourself.
7) Separate Who You Are from Your Reactions
Recognise that you are a witnessing presence that can observe the activity in your own mind, and the feelings you have – your thoughts and feelings are tools that you use, they are not who you are. The only way to put a stop to painful reactions is to separate yourself from those reactions, and to realise you are the witnessing presence behind your mind/emotions and that you have the ability to CHOOSE a response. Acknowledging this truth is critical!
8) Be Alert for Opportunities
Keep an keen eye out for opportunities (triggers!) to practise. Bring awareness into your day to day life, be present and you’ll be much more capable of making a healthy choice to practise peaceful response.
9) Give Thanks
Be grateful when a trigger does arise that the Universe has offered up a perfect assignment for you to evolve into the best you that you can be. The triggers are not a pain in the butt. They are a spiritual tool for practising your interaction with life.
10) Create a Gap
When triggered, utilise your free will to create a tiny gap between the trigger stimulus and the way you respond. You do this by:
- observing your mind as it runs its negative thoughts on auto-pilot;
- allowing your feelings to rise; and then
- asking yourself “Is this a painful reaction or a peaceful response”. Then…
11) Make a Conscious Choice
In that gap where you experience conscious awareness of your trigger and yourself, make a choice to use the gifts you were born with (loving consciousness and free will) to choose a peaceful response
12) Remember WHY You Are Practising – It’s a GIFT to yourself
Remember that a peaceful response in the face of negative stimulus does not mean you endorse, approve of or embrace that negative trigger. Nor does it absolve any other person involved (who is being negative) of their responsibility. Rather, a peaceful response is a gift to yourself to move forward without harming your wellbeing and without carrying that trigger baggage with you for the rest of your day, week, month, year or life!
With interpersonal relationships in particular, it is possible to create a peaceful response in the face of very challenging experiences with other people while also setting and maintaining healthy personal boundaries. In the face of unkindness, aggression, judgement or any other array of low vibration (negative) behaviour and communication from another person, you can a) practice peaceful response, and at the same time b) from that place of peaceful response you can express your personal boundaries clearly and lovingly, leaving no room for confusion for the other person about what is acceptable to you in terms of how other people treat you. Believe in the possibility that you are capable of expressing such boundaries without bringing a painful reaction into the mix at the same time.
13) Beware of Your Ego
If you peacefully respond to a situation, beware of your ego. The ego may like to say you are now a bigger and better person for taking the higher path instead of falling into negative reaction. Remain a humble and loving student of life. Do this for yourself, and do this to role model loving consciousness in action for all those around you… particularly for the children and young people in your life who will witness and mimic you as their way of understanding how life works.