What are emotional triggers that set off arguments? If your partner’s behavior or a statement that he or she makes remind you of something from your past that you haven’t resolved, you’ll get upset. You’ll react instead of respond.
When you reach a level of internal discomfort that you can no longer tolerate, you’ll explode or implode. Why? Because the unresolved pieces are running amok, un-metabolized inside you. This is what manifest that out-of-control moment when you lash out at your partner and go ballistic or withdraw and/or beat yourself up.
You can’t be human and not have triggers. They explain why you act a certain way, but they do not excuse you from the damage you cause. When you were a child, you unconsciously were using coping mechanisms in order to survive. YOU DID THE RIGHT THING. (Yes, fighting or retreating might have been what you had to do.) However, as an adult, the challenge is becoming conscious of the triggers and mitigating them.
The Life of a Trigger
The first place you’ll feel the trigger is in your body since it automatically makes you feel bad. It takes lots of skill to find the precise trigger for every negative emotion or mood that you’re experiencing, but it’s possible if you remember the following —
- It’s not your partner’s fault that you are reacting the way you do. What sets you off has nothing to do with anyone else, only with you.
- The only question that you need to ask yourself when you get triggered is WHY? Why are you reacting instead of responding?
- There is no way to control another person’s behavior, and that includes your partner’s, because every human being is a free agent. Your only choice is to control your reaction.
- Your partner is often the catalyst (aka trigger) for you to look at what has been bothering you from a time in your life that predates your partner. Is there something in your childhood that is being triggered in the present?
You don’t have the right to be a “control freak” and have everything your way in order to feel at ease. You must learn how to cultivate flexibility and resilience. There are other options other than fuming and/or yelling. There’s always an array of possibilities if you can calm yourself down enough to envision them.
Maybe if arguments, which are uncomfortable conversations, were called discussions or debates, couples would accept them better. They’d realize that they are normal, an integral part of relationships, rather than something to avoid, fear, and dread. Arguments, especially those with partners, are actually opportunities-in-disguise that help couples stop playing victim, take responsibility for their lives, and emotionally grow up.
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