5 Techniques to Heal Your Emotional Triggers

You can’t always control what happens around you. You could be having a deeply enjoyable day, but then a comment from someone else derails everything, sending you into a state of emotional distress. Sometimes, this emotional response is justified — and is, in fact, the correct response. You should feel something if you’re told that a relative has been in an accident or that your job is in jeopardy.

But in some cases, the emotional response will not have merit. The comment may have been completely innocuous and perhaps not even intended as negative. In this scenario, you’re not really responding to what has just happened — you’re responding to something else in your past. The present-day comment or action just “triggered” the emotional response.

Most people have emotional triggers, and they’re not always so severe that they need addressing. But they can be worth exploring even if you don’t feel they have an overly negative impact on your life. And if they do have a negative impact on your life, then managing them can be life-changing.

Why Heal Your Emotional Triggers

We mentioned earlier how you can’t always control what happens around you. But you can control how you respond to those events. By managing your response to circumstances that currently trigger you, you are liberating yourself from the trauma of your past experiences. It’s a form of healing that can help to improve your overall quality of life. Comments from other people may still bother you on some level, but they won’t derail your day. You’ll be the one directing the ship, not your past.

Understand the Phenomenon

People can be slaves to their emotional triggers without even realizing it. The first step to dulling the impact of your triggers is to identify what they are. You almost certainly have some emotional triggers, and not all of them will be bad. A certain place or smell may remind you of good times, for instance.

But let’s focus on the bad ones. These can elicit an emotional response that mimics the experience of the primary experience. But they’re not the same thing — your nervous system has just been temporarily taken over because of a pre-existing association.

The takeaway from this point? There’s nothing wrong with having emotional triggers. They’re not your fault. But you can also prevent them from having an impact.

Dive Into Your Own Emotional Sensitivities

Your emotional triggers will be unique to you. Other people may have similar experiences, but the precise memory that you relive during your triggered moments will be well and truly your own. As such, it can be recommended to dive into your emotional sensitivities. We all have them, and there’s little harm in knowing what yours are. You’ll probably find that you can trace back the feeling to an experience in your past, which, with the benefit of hindsight, you can now see in a totally new light.

Recognize Your Trigger Signs

If you can recognize your trigger signs, you’ll have much greater control over your response. Sometimes, people end up in negative situations that could have been avoided had they been alert to the first trigger signs when they presented themselves.

Your signs, as with most things related to triggering, will be unique to you. If you’re not sure what they are, think back to the last time you had a triggered emotional response, and try to identify what may have set things in motion.

Learn Self-Management Tools

Being aware that you’ve been triggered won’t necessarily make it go away. Your body may still produce a physical response, which in turn leads to an emotional episode. However, there are things you can do to limit the impact of the response. Experts recommend counting backwards from 100, doing deep breathing exercises, and writing out your thoughts and feelings as ways to limit the impact. Calling on your support network can also be beneficial.

Helping Others Who Are Triggered

We can help to get some control over our own triggering experiences by helping others during their triggering episodes. Running through breathing exercises, reminding them that it’s OK to feel the way they feel, and reiterating that the earlier trauma is no longer able to hurt them can all be effective tools.


Negative experiences don’t always leave us once they’re over. Many of us carry them with us. By understanding more about emotional triggers, we can take steps to ensure our previous experiences don’t impact our present or future happiness.

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