One question that keeps coming up time and time again in our trainings is how to deal with triggers?
When we feel angry or upset, instead of using that energy to guide us constructively, we often become defensive and shut down. We may even act out our insecurities and, in doing so, loose touch with our credibility. We end up pushing away the very results we may want because we’re so busy resisting the people we’re dealing with.
When someone says something that triggers you, remind yourself NOT to react immediately. Easier said than done. But it’s a skill we must develop if we are to navigate the complexity of business with any strength.
Learn to PAUSE and REFLECT. Silence is your power. And in that silence, imagine catching the offense in the palm of your hand without letting it penetrate your personal energy field. It’s just sitting in your hand, far away from your center, in a safe enough place for you to examine it.
People’s first reaction is usually to assume the other person is an idiot, jerk, selfish priiii…. etc. And on some level, their behaviour does reflect a lack of self-awareness. When we’re aware, we own our stuff and try not to project onto others. We remember that whenever we blame other people and paint ourselves as “better”, we’ve slipped into weakness. We’re not facing our vulnerability. And our vulnerability is a HUGE source of strength – if we face it.
So, when everything in you wants to react, refrain. Hold that energy. Breathe. Consolidate and don’t allow yourself to wobble back and forth like a huge pile of jelly. Keep your poise. Maintain your power.
And in those few moments of reflection and pause, ask yourself, without judgment: “Why am I feeling this way? Why is this important to me?” You can also ask the other person to clarify what they mean. The more dispassionate you remain, the more you can unpack and resolve a tense moment quickly and productively. You’ll be amazed at what you discover when you ask honest questions, and you’ll more likely create positive results.
If you react with emotion, you’ve lost the game. You’ll get sucked back into the low-level drama, projection and fuzzy thinking that leads nowhere but down.
Of course, in the moment we often think we don’t have time to pause and examine the truth. But that is not the case. We can always give ourselves time. You have the power to hold the moment if you so wish. You never need be sucked into someone else’s energy. You dictate your own rhythm. In fact, this is an act of self-care in times of stress, and as such, imperative.
Taking your time in a world that pushes you to react immediately is a powerful act. It says “I am strong”. While everyone else is tearing around like headless chickens, you will buy the time needed to centre yourself under pressure and ask the important questions for clarification. It helps you address the assumptions you and others have made and gain unique insights that can never be found in any leadership or self-help book. No one knows your situation but you.
And when you stop feeling pressured, you will start to see a path forward.
So, train yourself to catch the offense in your hand before it penetrates, look at it with interest and see what you find. And don’t take any of it personally. See the other person for what they are – a fragile human who is just as confused as you.
When we can rise above the emotional reactions, we become powerful. People love controlled strength. They feel safe around you and trust in your presence.
I know how hard it is to emanate such strength when you feel far from it. I’ve been there 1000 times. I grew up in a hot-headed Mediterranean family where tempers flared and life at times felt precarious. But I learned to fake it til you make it. And, if like me, you sometimes quietly simmer, breathe. Don’t react. Extend yourself some warmth. Soften. Just by maintaining your poise and soothing your emotional reactions, you’ll come to dominate your mind-set.
So be brave. Pause and hold the moment. Step into your presence, beyond common emotional reactions, and bathe in its kindness. This is your power. And it’s yours for the taking. You just have to reach within and know it’s there.