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Arrow Tip #30: Get "Trigger-Happy"!

NO......I'm not talking about guns here......I'm talking about mental and emotional it people, places, or things. In most cases, people see triggers as negative, but they don't have to be. I want to show you how to leverage your triggers to bring about positive change.

In my functional medicine practice, I've worked with many people who have food-related triggers that elicit an inflammatory response in their bodies. Due to a variety of reasons their systems are now "programmed" to respond in a way that's less than optimal, and sometimes downright debilitating. The general protocol for this is to find out exactly what the trigger is, remove it if possible, then rebuild the system so the negative pattern of response is no longer an issue. If we can't remove the trigger then we make changes elsewhere to mitigate the negative impact. The interesting thing I've found is that when helping people with their mindsets, the same scenario applies. It starts with an outside "trigger", then an inflammatory (mental/emotional) response ensues, followed by someone feeling very bad. This too is brought about by patterns within a system.

The difference here though is that YOU have total control over your mental and emotional responses, even if you don't quite feel like you do at the time. It just requires developing a new pattern for yourself. The issue is not with the outside trigger. Just like some people may have eggs as a dietary trigger.....not everyone in the world has an inflammatory response to eggs. That makes the "outside" item neutral. It's simply the system of the person RESPONDING in a negative way that creates the problem for them. Fix the system and the so-called "trigger" gets deactivated and is rendered harmless.

Whether it's physical, mental, or emotional inflammatory responses we're working on, they all require observation, investigation, patience, a systematic approach, and a period of time to allow changes to take place.

So, how can you leverage these mental and emotional triggers and use them to your advantage? Start by considering them to be data collection for you. This allows you to see them as beneficial rather than something negative, then follow this systematic approach:


ACTION STEPS: Step 1: Stop/Pause. You must disrupt the pattern. Whatever reaction you might be having, you need to be able to step back mentally and NOTICE objectively what it is you're thinking right now. This is critical because these thoughts are what's fueling your emotions. If the present moment is too inflammatory for you, then wait until you're calm and do this step in retrospect. It can be even more effective to do later because you won't be as reactive and will have more clarity on the subject.

Step 2: When you get triggered your thoughts and feelings are based on some belief(s) you hold. ASK YOURSELF the following question: "What must I believe (about myself, the other person, and or the situation) to be so bothered right now?" Write these down if possible.

Step 3: Ask yourself what "meaning" you're giving to this situation that's causing this to trigger you negatively. (See Arrow Tip #8 for clarity on this).

Step 4: Use the information gained in the first 3 steps to make changes. This information is your key to change. Now that you know what is it you think, believe, and feel, you can begin to choose better thoughts (see Arrow Tip #20) that are more in alignment with what you want. You can also ask yourself better questions (see Arrow Tip #29) to help you get there. Even though your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings may be valid, you have to ask yourself if you want to continue along this path of being triggered by the same things over and over. If not then you're going to have to change something and it starts with your thoughts.

Step 5: Remove the trigger if possible. Of course, this is the easiest thing to do if it's a negative person, place, or thing that you can eliminate from your life. But if removal is not an option then following the steps above is even more critical.


It's very important to remember that this is a process. At the start, just remembering to take Step #1 will be a challenge. We aren't used to paying attention to what we're thinking from an objective standpoint....especially when we're being triggered.

The more you practice this week's Arrow Tip, the more proficient you'll get at this. This process will quite literally allow you to rewire your neural pathways to create better outcomes. This is why you should become "trigger happy". Use your triggers as catalysts for change rather than just useless emotional upset. My thinking is that if I'm going to be upset about something I may as well get something productive out of it! This process allows for that.



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