I'm Triggered. Now What?
/ Author: Nathan Koslowsky
/ Categories: Newsletters /
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I'm Triggered. Now What?

By Nathan Koslowsky, CLAC Representative

I interact with a lot of angry people during the course of my work. Typically, something happens at work—a supervisor or colleague has done something (or not done something), and the result is an unhappy person who wants something done about it. From time to time, the problem and its solution are straightforward. Most of the time, however, the situation is a little more complicated. Personalities are involved, there’s a history, details are murky, and the connections between cause and effect are less than clear.

Very often, it’s the human dynamic that is the complicating factor. In a conflict, a triggered person will typically make things worse, not better. When we’re triggered, the way we view the other person, how we interpret their actions, and the ideas we have about resolving the conflict can easily become distorted and less than helpful. 

It may be true that the other person has done something that has upset you, but once you’re upset, you can become part of the problem if you’re not careful. Once you’re part of the problem, there is a high likelihood that you will actively reinforce the same behaviour in the other person that is driving you nuts to begin with! So what can you do when you’re triggered? The solution may surprise you.

Get outside your current perspective to a different vantage point. Think about a relationship you have where you don’t feel triggered. If your supervisor or colleague has triggered you, take a moment to remind yourself of someone you care about, like a close friend or family member. Become aware of how you feel about them and notice your emotions shift gears. Once your emotions have shifted, turn your thoughts back to the person and the problem that has triggered you, and then reconsider the situation again from your new emotional perspective. 

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