Clearing Buttons and Triggers

The Art of Letting Go Series

Part 4- Clearing Buttons & Triggers

I would like to explore what is known as emotional triggers or buttons and I shall give some tips on how to resolve them.

A trigger is a person’s reaction to a situation that is far more intense than what would be considered normal, or a trigger can be when we regularly negatively react to certain situations, such as when your boy/girl-friend is late. Another common term for triggers is buttons, often expressed as “someone has pushed my buttons!"

A classic example of having our buttons pushed or being triggered is when we are cut off in traffic and we react strongly, sometimes to the point of using violence. Road rage as it is reported in the media.

Being cut off in traffic is called a trigger because our reaction was ‘way over the top’ or out of proportion to the event. The event of being cut off in traffic actually evoked strong angry emotions that we feel about other things in our life, so our extreme anger or “road rage” has actually nothing to do with being cut off in traffic.

“Important to catch”

Triggers are important to clear precisely because they can be so over powering. As in the example above, when we are gripped by the strong awakened emotions, we are often acting unconsciously, totally out of our rational mind. As such, reactions to triggers can create huge suffering for us as well as for the people we effect.

And the thing is with triggers, if we don’t catch them out, they tend to replay themselves over and over again causing us great misery. So how to break the cycle?

Well firstly it is important to question ourself, during the event if possible, or after when we have calmed down, what was that emotion all about? Was my emotional response appropriate to the event. If your honest answer is no, then the situation has shown you that you have been triggered.

Once you recognise you have a trigger, start to question yourself about what similarities the event possibly reminds you off in life. In our example when we were cut off in traffic, perhaps the idea of being cut off, someone stealing our space, reminds us on a deeper level the pain of not feeling respected at home, not being allowed to express our self, being cut off from speaking our truth. Perhaps the frustration at someone cutting us off reminds us on a deeper level the stored frustrations and anger we have in our personal lives. Perhaps being cut off makes us feel insignificant, which reminds us that we feel insignificant on some level with our partner, and feeling insignificant makes us feel angry, just as we were angry at being cut off in traffic.

In another example, if we regularly get angry when our boy/girl-friend is late, perhaps we are reacting to the pain of not feeling appreciated by them rather than getting angry because we are waiting.

“Triggers are opportunities to find deeper peace”

Having seen the emotions behind the trigger gives us the opportunity to go into these feelings and allow them to be felt, and in doing so, allows them the space to be cleared. And when we clear these feelings that underlie the trigger, this will automatically remove the trigger, take away our buttons so to speak.

When we feel triggered we may blame the situation or person for creating the emotions within us. A healthier approach would be to appreciate that this person or situation has shown us that we have an opportunity to heal more deeply by clearing the emotions and beliefs that have arisen through the trigger. Ultimately, triggers are messages from life showing us what emotions and negative beliefs are still within us and are awaiting to be cleared.

Published: April 2014