In yesterday’s post Identify Your PMS Hot Buttons, I wrote about the importance of recognizing your emotional triggers. They are, however, not necessarily easy to identify, unless you know where to look for them. So today I want to share a simple way to help you catch your hot buttons quickly.
We all know that words are powerful. They can make you or break you. So naturally this is the first place where we will look to find our hot buttons. The words or phrases that elicit specific emotions from the recipient in a conflict are called “emotional trigger phrases.”
Generally speaking, there are three categories of emotional trigger phrases:
involves belittling the other party. Examples include such phrases such as “Don’t be stupid” and “It was your fault.”
involves telling the other person what to do. Examples of commanding phrases include: “I think you need to…” “You should…” and “You are not looking at my position.”
are those that appeal to a higher source (or ideal), blame, or abdicate responsibility, such as “This is how we have always done it” and “Why do you always…”
Sound familiar? Growing up, we may have heard some of those phrases from our parents, which triggered fear, shame or anger, and left a powerful and long-lasting imprint in our psyche.
Even though we are now grown ups and self-sufficient human beings, we may still be imprisoned by those words. Sometimes when we hear those familiar phrases again, especially in an intimate relationship, the old wounds can reopen without our conscious awareness, and we overreact leaving the other person startled by our response.
Or we may have “inherited” some of those phrases, used them on our loved ones and pushed their hot buttons.
I push your button, and you push my button. The vicious cycle can destroy love and relationships unless we stop it.
Next time when you notice intense emotions bubbling up in you, pay special attention to the words or phrases that triggered your reaction. Over time, you will recognize your own specific emotional trigger phrases, be they belittling, commanding, power phrases, or some combination.
Recognizing your triggering phases is like setting up a personal emotional alarm system. It alerts you when you may be emotionally triggered, so that you can choose your response to a situation consciously rather than react from your reflexes.