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Emotional Triggers

An emotional trigger is something that provokes a strong emotional reaction.  A trigger can be something small like a sound, smell, taste, touch, or just a glimpse of an image on the page.  Often triggers are movies, books, news reports or events.  Anything really that brings on strong feelings of fear, anger, sadness, or guilt.

The emotion can come on suddenly.  It may be like being hit by a wave of emotion.  You might feel a strong physical reaction; maybe shaky, stomach discomfort, pain in your body.  It can be gone in a flash, but also may hang around for weeks.

Here are a few ideas for getting the emotions to subside:

Take deep, cleansing breaths.  Focus on a small task to get your mind off the subject.  Detach by reminding yourself that the event happened in the past and it is not happening now, just the thoughts and feelings have been triggered.  Center your mind and body with a walk or yoga.

Recognize your feelings.  Figure out what the trigger was.  This is important not so you can avoid the trigger, but so you understand what is going on with you and why you are feeling what you are feeling.

Have some acceptance of the feelings.  “Of course you feel this way after seeing that movie and remembering what happened when you were 10.”  Get out your journal and explore.  Your journal will help you figure it out and give you some distance from the emotion.  

If you just can’t get past it seek a little therapy.  Counseling help you sort it out and find the best way for you to cope. 

About Geraldine M. Brown MS, LPC, LIMHP (162 Articles)
I hold a Master's Degree in counseling. I am a licensed professional counselor and a licensed independent mental health practitioner. I have over 25 years of experience counseling people from all walks of life.

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