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6 Tips To Master Your Emotional Triggers

Written by: Mieke Vander Heyden, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Has it ever happened to you that a random situation provokes an inner emotional rollercoaster, and you don't understand why? You have likely been emotionally triggered!

businesspeople holding cards with emotions

How do you know if you are emotionally triggered?

  • there is a repetitive voice in your head which is voicing out a limiting belief

  • you react on automatic pilot without thinking and end up doing/saying something you regret afterward

  • your emotional response is out of proportion to the actual situation

  • you tend to take things too personally

Emotional trigger reactions can be so strong that they limit your ability to choose how to respond in a certain situation.

Emotional triggers, stress, emotional wounds, and trauma

When you are triggered, you are not rational anymore. You are responding according to four trauma-stress responses: fight, flight, freeze or befriend. This mechanism is automatic, unconscious, and stronger than yourself. It’s challenging to step out of this trigger-state, because a part of you has traveled to a past situation of trauma, high stress, or emotional wounds, but feels as if it’s happening to you NOW.

In this book by Peter A. Levine, you can read what's happening physiologically in your body when you are triggered.

Perhaps you wonder why you are emotionally triggered, even if you had an amazing life.

We all know moments when our needs were not being met. Think of an experience that has felt unsafe, where we didn’t feel seen, loved, or felt abandoned, to name a few.

These experiences are very unsettling and have consequences

  • You may feel shame and guilt, or suffer from self-judgment.

  • Repetitive triggers can be very exhausting.

  • In the long run, it may impact your self-worth and self-confidence, and you may isolate yourself.

  • It can also affect your relationships in any area of your life, depending on which situations trigger you.

  • People don’t always understand what is happening to you, so they judge, avoid or leave you, rather than noticing that you are suffering inside.

You can get triggered anywhere, but often it’s in a setting where our heart is involved, such as in relationships or the workplace. Here you can read more about what you can do in the workplace: read here.

You can break this emotional trigger-cycle

As you understand, it is important to break this downward trigger cycle. There is a way out, many people have done this before you. However, it is a process that requires your active efforts.

When I work with clients, whether it is individually or in my online master your triggers – program,

I offer a step-by-step process, which focuses on the following elements:

1. Work with your emotional triggers

First, it's critical to recognize when you are triggered, and what your triggers and trigger responses are. In doing so, you create consciousness and distance, both needed in learning to pause and step out of the situation.

Yasminne explains here that there are several types of triggers: emotional, body & belief triggers.

2. Learn to self-regulate when you are emotionally triggered

Once you realize that you are triggered, you can apply methods that help you come back to the present again. Learning to self-soothe and self-regulate should be skills taught in schools.

The most successful is to use your body as an anchor. This can be your breath. For example: focus on how you inhale and exhale. Do this consciously and make sure your inhalation is as long as your exhalation. Counting can support you with this.

Also gently scanning the environment with your eyes can help you come back to the present moment again. Look for the details and go as slowly as you can.

3. Adapt your lifestyle

Stress increases the likelihood of triggers. When you are used to high levels of stress, you may not notice anymore when you are being overstimulated. Creating a life that suits your needs and personality is crucial.

Also, the use of alcohol and mind-altering drugs can evoke getting triggered more easily. It’s as if you are losing your filters of self-control, you’re unable to look at the situation realistically and respond with emotional intelligence to the situation.

Peace of mind, a sense of ability to cope with whatever life throws at you, and developing a basic trust in yourself and life, are essential to thrive in any area of your life. This is easiest when you avoid long periods or excessive amounts of stress, alcohol, or any kind of drugs.

4. Process emotional wounds

Your emotional wounds need to be addressed and healed as well. Your triggers lead you directly to emotional wounds that are still waiting under the surface for you to pay attention to.

Your inner wounded children or younger versions of yourself, are longing for you to acknowledge, love, and reassure them. You may not have been raised in the perfect circumstances, but it’s never too late to start being the most loving parent or best friend for yourself!

5. Repair your relationships through connective communication

Shame, guilt, judgment, and blame because of your trauma-stress responses, are very disconnecting, whether this is coming from your environment, or from within yourself.

I encourage you to break this cycle and reconnect with your environment, whenever you can. Have the courage to repair your relationships.

6. Learn to forgive

Triggers are human, we all go through them from time to time. Forgive yourself. Forgive others who were involved and triggered as well. Forgive yourself for not being the best version at that specific moment in time. Learn from it and move on.

If you suspect that you are dealing with triggers on a weekly or daily basis, if you notice that it’s impacting your life more than you wish; it might be time to seek professional support to teach you to deal with some of your specific triggers.

You deserve to feel emotionally stable and free again!

Emotional triggers are also researched and used in sales and marketing, just because such emotions while being triggered feel so intense. Here you can read more about this.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info on how I coach people!


Mieke Vander Heyden, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Mieke Vander Heyden, a leader in Integrative & Creative Art Therapies. It’s her passion to support people to find inner peace & freedom, the key to happiness and harmony all-around. She has helped loads of people over the globe, to reconnect with themselves, support them through difficult life-crisis’s and make the needed adjustments to get on track again, dancing the waves of life. Mieke is the CEO of Moving Hearts Therapy, offering transformational & inner journeys, through Therapy & Coaching, Workshops & Team building, Creative Healing Retreats & Training. Through her own life experience, she is a go-to for nomads, expats, travelers, or people with an alternative lifestyle.


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