Everyone has their own little quirks. Things that make them irritated, frustrating, or downright angry. You could probably list your own triggers right now—little stuff like clutter or having to wait around. Maybe you can’t stand a particular word or phrase, or you find it impossible to work if there’s noise. The thing about triggers is that they’re often small things that tip you over the edge, and before you know it, you’ve lost your temper over something that in the scheme of things, doesn’t really matter.
Here are four steps you can take to manage your anger triggers better.
- Take control
The first thing is to realize that you are totally in control of how you react. Work out what your triggers are, and you can take your power back. You can anticipate and plan for situations where you know you’re likely to blow your top. Repeat this mantra to yourself: “My emotions are my responsibility.”
- Learn to read your body
Be conscious of how your anger manifests in your body. Likely your heart rate will go up, or your hands and jaw will clench. You might feel breathless or even get a stomachache. Tune into what your body is telling you, and you’ll learn to be able to stop the process of reacting. And remember the feelings themselves aren’t ‘bad’ but how you choose to respond to those feelings can be harmful, even destructive.
Instead of sweeping the papers off your desk onto the floor, or yelling, take a deep breath or go for a walk. Feeling triggered is often a result of low blood sugar, fatigue, or dehydration. Taking care of your physical needs can help you manage your emotional needs as well and make you more resilient to stresses and triggers.
- Identify what triggered you
Once you can interrupt the trigger response, you can start to work out what it was that set it off in the first place. Did you feel disrespected? Unheard? Were you mistreated or misunderstood? If someone pushed in front of you in the coffee line, what did that signal to you? That your needs aren’t important?
What about if someone talks over you or interrupts in a meeting? As well as being rude, you could feel sidelined, humiliated even.
- Choose your plan of action
Whatever your triggers might be, it’s totally up to you how you react. You can anticipate how you might feel and what you might do or say in response. Take a deep breath, detach from the situation, and focus on how you want to feel. You can choose to stay calm in triggering situations – it’s up to you.