Discover Your Emotional Triggers

What Triggers Your Emotions?

The strengths that have helped you to succeed are also your greatest emotional triggers when you feel someone is not honoring what makes you special.

3D model of brain in blue

When your brain perceives that someone has taken or plans to take one of these important things away from you, then your emotions are triggered.

You react with anger or fear, then you quickly rationalize your behavior so it makes sense. You may lose trust in the person or situation. You may lose courage or react in a way that could hurt your relationships in the future.

The key is to catch yourself reacting when your emotions are triggered. Then you can discover if the threat is real or not.

The following list includes some of the most common emotional triggers, meaning you react when you feel as though you aren't getting or will not get one of these things that are very important to you.

Be Accepted Be Respected Be Liked
Be Understood Be Needed Be Valued
Be Given Control Be Right Be Treated Fairly
Be Given Attention Be Seen Experience Freedom
Feel in Harmony Experience Balance Experience Consistency
Maintain Order Experience Variety Feel Loved
Experience Safety Count on Predictability Be Included

Experience Fun

Be Given New Challenges

Experience Competency

Some of these needs will be important to you. Others will hold no emotional charge for you.

To start controlling your emotional triggers, choose three items from the list that most often set off your emotions when you don’t get these needs met. Be honest with yourself. Which three needs, when not met, will likely trigger a reaction in you? Identify the needs that you hold most dear.

It is critical to note that needs are not bad. The reason you have these needs is that at some point in your life, the need served you. For example, your experiences may have taught you that success in life depends on maintaining control, establishing a safe environment and having people around you who appreciate your intelligence.

However, the more you become attached to these needs, the more your brain will be on the lookout for circumstances that threaten your ability to have these needs met. Then your needs become emotional triggers.

At this point, you must judge the truth of the situation. Are you really losing this need or not? Is the person actively denying your need or are you taking the situation too personally? If it’s true that someone is ignoring your need or blocking you from achieving it, can you either ask for what you need or, if it doesn’t really matter, can you let the need go?

Without consciously acknowledging the need that is triggering the emotional reaction, we become enslaved to the need. On the other hand, if we honestly declare our needs—that we had expected people to treat us in a particular way and had hoped events would unfold as we had planned—then we can begin to see life more objectively. From this perspective, we are freer to choose our reactions.


As soon as you notice that you are emotionally reacting, you have to shift your emotional state in order to think through what your trigger might be. Therefore, practice the following technique to help you make the shift:

Relax - breath and release the tension in your body.

Detach - clear your mind of all thoughts.

Center - drop your awareness to the center of your body just below your navel. Feel yourself breathe. This helps to clear the mind.

Focus (and implant) - choose one keyword that represents how you want to feel or who you want to be in this moment.

Once you shift your emotional state, you are free to examine if someone is actually taking something away from you or not. You can then ask for what you need or let it go and move on. Keep breathing and thinking of your keyword and you will be able to Outsmart Your Brain.

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If you would like to have me speak at your upcoming event or talk about leadership training and coaching, please reach to me at:

Marcia Reynolds

tel: +1 602 954 9030

Copyright 2016 Covisioning, Marcia Reynolds

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