One of the things I know to be true about when I get to that point is that I have often ignored my triggers. I have let myself get to the point where I can no longer be in control of my emotions and my ability to be HERE now and I am much more susceptible to having my buttons pushed. Here are a few of my triggers, and what I do to put personal boundaries in place so that I can take care of my own serenity. See if you recognize yourself in any of them. Afterwards, I’ll give some tips on how you can start to recognize your own triggers.
· Getting too hungry: I know I can go about 4 ½ to 5 hours without eating, after that, I start to get cranky and irritable.
Seems like this would be an obvious one to manage, but I often find myself in the situation where I go 6 or 7 hours without food. Now, I always make sure I have a granola bar, a small Trader Joe’s pack of almonds, or some healthy snack that doesn’t exploit my food issues.
· Not being on time: This is an interesting one. I am the kind of person who starts to get stressed out when I know I am going to get to an event that starts at 8 pm at 7:50 pm. Unfortunately, my husband is a lot looser with time, so we often end up in spats because I am pretty much freaking out about the time, and he’s still choosing his shirt. Understand this, we’re not late, but the prospect of it happening throws me in to fits.
There’s a couple things I do now. If it seems we really are going to be late, then my husband and I have an agreement that I can take my own car and he’ll come separately (we’ve never had to use this one yet). The other thing I do is to talk to myself. No, really. I talk to myself. Very firmly, not out loud (usually), I tell myself that I can calm down, we’re not late, and that even if we were, maintaining serenity with my husband is more important.
· Imagining what others are thinking: I know we’ve all done this, but it can throw me off for days. Imagine your friend starts to act a little distant, a little like something’s off. What’s the first thing you start thinking? If your answer is that there’s probably something going on in her life, then kudos for you. What I start thinking is that I must have done something wrong, she must be mad at me, there must be some problem I don’t know about. And when I get in to these tracks, I start to be mean to people around me. I’m so worked up about someone else’s ‘supposed’ feelings that my ability to be kind is reduced.
Now, I try very hard to do more self-talk: “This probably isn’t about me, there’s probably something going on with her.” Also, I ask my friend if anything’s up. If the person is a friend in truth, she will tell me what’s up. No more walking around imagining people hate me.
These are just three of several others, but knowing my triggers helps me understand when I am vulnerable to losing my equanimity. It’s all about setting my life up so I can continue to remain focused on the present. Since I’ve started really watching my triggers, I have felt my relationships (especially with my husband) improve, as well as my general sense of well-being.
To help you start to recognize your own triggers, try these:
1. Whenever you find yourself in an irritable mood, ask yourself what you need. You may find that you are hungry or tired.
2. If you get in to an argument that seems to have spiraled out of control, force yourself to think way back through to the beginning of the argument and to the hours right before. Did something happen? Did you argue with a co-worker? Did you get a parking ticket? Often, when we are annoyed with ourselves, it can be a trigger to take our frustrations out on others. In this case, you may need to learn to practice self-care and nurturing yourself.
Enjoy your Friday, friends! And have a great weekend