"Triggers are everywhere," my client, we'll call her Dee, observed as we were checking in on her progress since our last session.
Dee went on to relay the many times throughout the day she had to deal with stressful stimuli.
There was the time her boss stopped by her office and interrupted her work with a "great" new idea. When Dee didn't immediately say, "Yes, let's do it!"
He said, "You're thinking is just wrong...You're not getting it." Triggered.
Afterward, there was the meeting with her employee who kept saying, "I love working here, but...." Triggered.
And a conversation with another employee who brought up salary concerns. Triggered.
Then she went home and made the mistake of checking her email before going to bed. There was a regulatory compliance issue that was completely avoidable had they looped Dee in sooner. Triggered.
And those were just the BIG triggers. The ones that made her feel sick in the stomach. Filled with panic as she experienced a sinking feeling. They were the times she thought to herself "Oh my god" and worried about being seen as incompetent. In those instances, she had the sensation of heat rising and felt flushed.
The worst part was, the way the triggers made her feel reinforced her fear of being viewed as incompetent. Dee couldn't think straight, let alone articulate her thoughts well. And her explosive reactions were driving a wedge in her relationships at work. That's why she sought my help in the first place.
Having a name for what she was experiencing - a triggered threat reaction. And tracking her triggers in her journal proved a powerful way to interrupt her patterned threat reaction, which was always fight in these instances.
Our journals are like the field notes of our lives. They contain valuable data that illuminates the patterns we get stuck in and the perspectives we become mired in. Sometimes this data comes in the form of thoughts scrolled on the page in stream of consciousness writing. Other times it's more targeted data collection through tracking pages.
Setting up a page for tracking triggers is simple. Do it now by following the video below. Then fill in the tracker at least daily. Making even a mental note of the data points in the moment helps to interrupt the pattern. Collect data for a week, then mine it for insights to leverage moving forward as you complete the Pattern Rewrite Process.
Doing this work isn't about getting the answer right or wrong (or having a pretty Pinterest-worthy tracker). It's about being an observer of your life and gathering pertinent information that'll empower you to grow and become the leader, partner and friend you aspire to be.
The practice of tracking her triggers created space for Dee to pause. Seeing them in writing gave her a renewed sense of power and control. It was like she was seeing her experiences with new eyes. She began to see how her explosive reactions to triggering situations could be tamed and so that's what she did.
As we concluded our work together Dee reflected, "I'm feeling more at peace and calmer. I'm not going to fall apart at any moment. I'm aware of more and different perspectives...Journaling is a great tool and practice I will continue to use to deepen my awareness, get distance and expand my perspective!"
What's more, her team noticed (and appreciated) the difference in her!
Are you struggling to deal with a triggering situation? Are you tired of feeling like you've lost control of how you're showing up at work or home? What if reclaiming your power was as simple as writing in your journal for 20 minutes? Join us for the next Journal Jam and give yourself the gift of your own innate wisdom.