Self-Control … Get Control of the Trigger

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Self-Control … Get Control of the Trigger

Self-control, we all could use a bit more of it. Even those of us who are generally extremely positive, pretty much in control of ourselves have moments where are self-control is tested.

Often my inspiration for my articles comes from the wisdom offered to me by those in my social network. Today’s post is a perfect example of that. If you read my blog regularly you already know that I believe that having a positive mind set is absolutely essential for a successful life. One of my readers, friend and fellow blogger Jessica Mokrzycki who blogs at ‘Ascending The Hills’ said:

“But there’s always something, some trigger, in all of us, that gets the best of us and heads us back down the path of negative thinking”.

Triggers. We all have them. For each of us there are certain things that just get under our skin and get our blood boiling. Those specific circumstances that make us lose our cool and start to behave less than rationally.

We each have a different set of triggers and that’s because of the way our brain works. The part of your brain that controls emotions is simply a memory processing machine that runs in the background telling us how to respond to different situations. Since we all had different experiences our emotional brains are going to process situations differently and because of that we each are going to experience different events as triggers.

It’s not normally the actual event that makes us react like we do, it’s the meaning we give it, that we associate with the trigger that gives it so much power.

“He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly”. Proverbs 14:29

We’ve all been there.  That moment just before we lose our cool.  It can be something really like someone stealing our parking space, or a sentence spoken to us by someone we love. We all have that crazy moment, when we switch from our normal and happy self and turn into a crazed monster. Normally the change just creeps up on you.  Afterwards, when it’s too late you realise that it was just nothing, a small trifling thing that pushed  your buttons, and pushed you over the edge so you lost control.

It is our subconscious beliefs that, in effect, cause us to react badly in situations that are actually not a “real” threat to us. These beliefs, in turn, produce dramatic negative reactive behaviours

Everyone has these type of triggers that cause them to react intensely and often irrationally. When people seem to push your buttons, there is only one thing you can do. You must learn to react differently than usual. You can’t let the triggers keep causing you to react badly. The best way to handle triggers is to understand them and replace them with healthful, life energizing thinking patterns!

You hold the key to dealing with these triggers. You can make self-directed changes to the thoughts on your mind.

So by pinpointing our triggers we can design a strategy to protect us from losing control.

Spend some time when you’re not angry to consider what triggers your emotions. Think back to the latest situation where you lost control of your emotions and work out for yourself what triggered them. Only once you understand what your triggers are can you take steps to make changes. Once you discover them, you can take control over your emotions. By changing your reaction to the trigger, you will effectively be both in control of yourself, and the situations that previously triggered your not so good reactions. It will take some time and practice but soon you will be better able to see triggers when they occur and take charge to react differently.

But what about when your emotions run high. At that point it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. To take control of the situation, you must immediately regain focus. To refocus, you’ll need to step back from the situation before you let your emotions take control.

When I am triggered, the best thing I can possibly do for myself is give myself time to PAUSE. I have always used a very simple technique. As I feel the reaction building within me, I say to myself ‘STOP!’. I then count slowly ‘5,4,3,2,1’. At the same time I start to focus on my breathing and bring it under control.

Later on you can determine the cause of the problem, but in the moment all you need to concentrate on is making sure you properly react. Don’t react hastily, just follow the simple technique I’ve just described.  The more you do this, the easier and more natural it will become.

After the incident is past, make some time for contemplation and reflection.  Review the entire situation, from all sides. Remember that there are two sides to every story, so try to think about things from all angles. From everyone’s perspective.

So just remember, resist the urge to react negatively. Negative thoughts and feelings will only cause you to overact and lose control of your emotions. As you learn to control your emotions, one of the best things you can do to help is to always face problems from a positive angle.

The new you can be right around the corner once you learn to control your emotions. But be patient with yourself.  You’re not going to learn how to control your emotions over night. It’s going to take some time and a lot of effort so you shouldn’t try and rush things. Take one day at a time and you will slowly notice a difference.

This blog has been created to inspire you to pursue personal growth. We hope it encourages you to find your passions and reach for excellence. We’d love to hear from you, whether in comment or send an e-mail and let us know something about yourself and your passion at

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About the author: Larry Lewis
My name is Larry Lewis, Health & Wellness Life Coach, Founder of Healthy Lifestyles Living, contributor to the Huffington Post, recently featured in the Sunday Mail Newspaper and somebody who went from being an owner of a chain of gyms and fitness fanatic, to a visually impaired overweight and incredibly sick person. Read about my illness to wellness story.
  1. I love your technique for calming yourself down before things go haywire! My trigger is most likely to go off when I’m driving and someone does something stupid or dangerous around me. I’m working on it and will try your helpful exercise the next time this happens.
    Thanks, Larry!

    • LarryLewis says:

      Martha – would i have put you down in the road rage category. Probably not. It is probably one of the most common triggers we humans have. Have you ever thought afterwards, what a pintless waste of energy that was. It was me that i directed the anger at, not the other person. They probably never knew that they’d effected you. Thats another way to stop these triggers, one actually asking yourse;lf is there any point in reacting, two asking yourself will this matter tommorow morning.

  2. Savy says:

    My technique is to breathe and then to step away from the situation…. I will come back to the situation and person when they have calmed down and are ready to communicate…

  3. Grady Pruitt says:

    I have had my times when I got angry. Looking back on them, most of the time, it was a slow build up of frustrations that piled up. By not taking care of them, they kept building.

    Other times, there was a moment where I was calm before the moment, but angry afterwards. Almost as if I made a conscious decision to be angry.

    Either way, taking a moment to count and breath and bring yourself under control can help.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • LarryLewis says:

      Grady, we humans are born to react. We just aren’t taught how to control those reactions. Counting, breathing really does help, and can stop those spur of the madness moments

  4. Anna Sides says:

    I hate it when I get angry. I try very hard to avoid it most times 🙂

    PS…you have something special on my blog waiting here for you…

    • LarryLewis says:

      Anna …. when you feel yourself get angry next, just remember how much you’ll hate yourself later, so stop yourself first. Thank you for my Award. I did find it today. This weekend i will pass it on to those deserving. Thank you so much for the honour.

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