We all get triggered every now and then. If you want to be a leader, either in your relationships, workplace, or life, then we’ve developed an easy, 4-step process to help you deal gracefully with getting triggered. We may have the belief that leadership – either for yourself, or leading others – means not ever being triggered, or somehow rising above those triggering events and places. We may think “I can’t really step up and be in a good relationship yet because I’m too emotional, too sensitive, or too reactive,” or, “Once I overcome these challenges, then I’ll really take on life in a powerful way!” 

However, in my experience, it’s actually just the opposite. When we turn toward those triggers in an empowered and honest way, we can step into real leadership of self and others. And we have a much better chance of creating healthier, long-lasting, and authentic relationships. 

#1 Find it 

The first step is to identify where the trigger is in our physical body. What doesn’t feel good? Follow the sensation to find where the trigger arises in the body. Most of the time we assume our triggers are external factors that influence us to react in a particular way, but our triggers are our own responsibility. Rather than playing the blame game, we acknowledge the sensation our body is bringing to the surface and we look inward to find the source. By simply locating the trigger’s source, you have already made an effective and empowering first step.

#2 Face it 

When we are triggered, we have a tendency to numb it, to blame someone, or to run away from the feeling. Once you’ve located where this trigger is presenting itself, face it directly by turning your attention inward with compassion and curiosity. Pose an inquiry, and ask yourself: what is this teaching me about myself? Why do I feel this way? 

These triggers most likely stem from childhood trauma, and by facing them, we allow ourselves to learn and heal our inner child. 

#3 Feel it

Human beings are wired to dismiss feelings of discomfort. We fall into the trap of worrying, overthinking, or numbing the trigger that’s showing up. Once you have found and faced a trigger, you can start to feel it, and once you learn how to find and feel these sensations in the body, you can teach others to do the same. 

By confronting the feeling and sensation of this trigger, we can then ground ourselves. When we’re triggered our nervous system acts as though we are in danger. By feeling it fully we experience it not only in our minds, but also our body. For example, “feeling it” could look like stopping, noticing, and saying “I’ve got fear in my belly. It feels like butterflies. It’s uncomfortable, but I’m willing to stay with it for a few moments.” Or, it could also look like: “I’m angry. My face is getting hot. I feel my blood pumping and my breath is really deep.” Both of these options are okay; regardless of how it presents itself, feeling the trigger in its entirety is necessary in order to move on to the next step.

#4 Free it 

When we face and feel our triggers, we can harness the ability to free it from our body and our minds. To free it, we need to turn inward and be with it, embrace it, and have compassion for it. This is where relief and new beginnings come from. When we don’t free ourselves from these triggers, they begin to carry a weight in our bodies. 

We feel this naturally with an urgency to let it go, so that we can move on. Instead of ignoring it, we need to learn to confront it with curiosity and sensitivity. Once we do this, we can be liberated. We now have an understanding for the pain and detachment. We experience forgiveness in ourselves, and the weight is lifted from our shoulders.

Practice Cultivating a Healthy Self 

At COR we invite you to try and practice these four F’s; find it, face it, feel it, and free it. At the end of April, we begin our Leadership Development Training, which runs for 10 months. During these 10 months, we teach you the strategies and skills you need to access and embody your Healthy Self, and how you can teach others to do the same. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, click here for more information.