Have you ever experienced this:
One second, you’re feeling completely relaxed and happy, enjoying whatever it is you’re doing.
The next second, your partner says something that gives you pause…
Maybe they say something you perceive as critical or unloving. Or they announced that they’re going to dinner with a friend, instead of eating at home with you. Or they ask you a question in a TONE that gets under your skin.
And it’s like someone flipped a switch.
Your stomach flips, your heart sinks and your entire face flushes hot. You’re suddenly enraged, shocked, or scared.
Before you can even stop to think about what just happened, you REACT.
You blurt out a string of swear words or you throw your arms up in the air in exasperation. You lash out and cast blame on your partner. They’re being so…stupid…callous…inconsiderate…unfair!
What comes next isn’t pretty. You make a snide remark, they yell, you storm out of the room, they retreat to a different room and slam the door.
Or maybe you don’t say a word, but stiffen your posture and silently seethe or well up with tears.
You can’t stop thinking about what happened. You’re upset, so you mindlessly reach for some junky snack or binge-watch Netflix to take your mind off what just happened. Maybe you call a friend and complain. It takes you HOURS to calm down.
If you’ve ever experienced this, you know what it’s like to get emotionally triggered.
You HATE the way it feels.
At worst, it’s destructive to your relationship and at best, it can ruin your day.
Here’s the good news, though: after reading this article, you’ll have a couple of choices of what to do the next time you get triggered. One of these choices can actually help you become immune to whatever triggers you in the future—regardless of what your partner does or doesn’t do.
It all starts with your INTENT. Here’s what I mean by that…
Becoming more aware of what’s triggering you and having a choice in how you react starts with your intent.
What do I mean by intent?
Intent is what governs how we think, feel, and behave. It is our deepest desire, our primary motive or goal, or our highest priority in any given moment.
Our intent is a powerful and creative force—the essence of free will. Having an intent is deciding how we will make choices in the future, based on the goals we want to achieve or the kind of experience we want to have in life.
Here are some examples of intent and how it can play out in your choices and behavior:
You have an intent to maintain your weight and health during the holidays, so you choose a couple of vegetable dishes over the mashed potatoes and you drink sparkling water instead of that second glass of wine.
You have an intent to be fair and honest, so when the cashier gives you change for $50 instead of for the $20 you gave him, you correct the mistake and give back the extra money.
You have an intent to spend more of your free time doing constructive things, so you delete your social media account and spend your evenings reading educational books or cleaning out your closets.
You have an intent to give your partner the benefit of the doubt, so you give yourself five minutes to listen closely to what they tell you or ask more questions before rushing to some negative conclusion.
Your intent governs the choices you make in any given moment.
Over time, if you are mindful and deliberate with your intent, you can change the trajectory of your life. You can choose to have an intent that will help you learn, grow, heal, and become a happier person.
Or, you can choose to not consciously choose an intent, and instead you may find yourself reacting, going through the motions and repeating patterns that don’t serve you. You can find yourself stuck in the same bad habits and poor choices.
Knowing the benefits of setting a positive intent, versus not consciously setting one at all, how can you use intent to help you the next time you get triggered?
Imagine you’re once again in that moment of time between feeling peaceful and getting triggered by your partner (or anyone, really).
There you are, facing that sinking feeling because they said or did something that feels unfair, attacking, or unloving.
In that moment, choose to adopt one of two primary intents:
If you choose the intent to learn to love, what you are saying is that you’re willing to face your fears and feel your painful feelings in order to compassionately nurture them, or understand how you may be creating them and discover what you need to do differently.
When you choose the intent to learn, you also want to stay curious about WHY you’re being triggered and take responsibility for how you feel, instead of looking for someone or something to blame. You seek safety and security within yourself, by looking to your Higher Power to determine what you need to take loving care of yourself.How To Take Responsibility
On the other hand, when your intent is to protect yourself from fear and pain, and therefore, avoid responsibility for your feelings, your deepest desire isn’t curiosity and healing. Your intent is to find your safety, peace, lovability, and worth through external factors, such as attention, approval, physical intimacy, substances, mindless entertainment, and activities.
You want to avoid taking responsibility for your feelings and instead believe others are responsible for how you feel, so you feel justified in lashing out and blaming, stonewalling, or withdrawing. You do this because you want to feel safe and worthy, but you think the only way to feel that is if your partner gives you the validation, attention, and approval you want in that moment.
In every moment, each one of us chooses our intent—either to attempt to feel externally safe by controlling others and our own feelings, or to create inner safety by learning about loving ourselves and others. While the choices that others make may influence you, no one but YOU controls your intent.
Not even a Higher Power can control your intent, since that would negate your free will. In each moment, you choose what is most important to you, and in each moment, you have an opportunity to change your mind.
When you choose to learn about loving yourself and others, everything can change in your relationship with yourself and with everyone in your life.
Each moment you’re emotionally triggered, you have a choice to either learn about loving yourself and others despite the pain and anger you feel, or protect yourself from the pain through trying to control another person with:
…or trying to avoid your own painful feelings with various addictions.
When you choose to learn about loving yourself, you open your heart with compassion for your feelings. You can then get to the root of your wounded feelings and learn what it takes to heal from this wound.
You no longer feel the need to blame or lash out. You are calm and reflective, even when difficult emotions come up. You have perspective and can think clearer about what is happening and where it’s coming from.
When you choose to learn and go within—the start of a process I call Inner Bonding—you are empowering yourself. You develop a strong, grounded sense of self, you discover who you really are, and what you need in order to feel secure in the world.
When you choose to protect yourself from your pain, you are less likely to change the way you react to certain things, which means you’ll remain at the mercy of what others say and do, always.
That’s why choosing the intent to learn about loving yourself and others is the most transformational thing you can do. You can turn triggers into opportunities for greater personal growth and understanding, instead of succumbing to hours of anger, frustration, or pain.
It all starts with choosing the intent to learning about loving yourself, and then going deeper from there…
Opening your heart to learning about yourself and others is just the first step of a process that can radically transform your life, your relationships, and your peace of mind.
By having the intent to learn, you stop having so much “drama” in your relationships with others and with yourself.
Once you’re open to learning, you can look even deeper within for what you need in order to heal the wounding of your past that triggers you.
This is the process of Inner Bonding that I teach throughout my 30-day program, Wildly, Deeply, Joyously In Love.
I’ve been teaching this process to thousands of people all over the world for decades, with tremendous success. I’ve received feedback from clients of how much this process has helped them improve ALL their relationships, starting with their relationship to SELF.
In the Wildly, Deeply, Joyously In Love program, you’ll start with a step-by-step guide for HOW to follow through on your intent to learn to love yourself and others, through self-reflection questions and exercises, as well as through powerful strategies you can apply in your own life starting NOW.
You’ll learn why your past affects the way you react to seemingly unrelated events now, and how to nurture your “wounded child” into becoming a more self-assured, emotionally calmer “loving adult.”
Learn the Inner Bonding process here, along with the 30-day video program:Heal Your Past
You don’t want to go through life subconsciously reacting to your partner’s words and actions with pain and anger without fully understanding why it’s happening, or what you can do to change it. That’s no way to love!
That’s why my program is so life- and love-changing. It will help you see yourself in a way you’ve never seen before, and will allow you to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
P.S. Do you blame your partner for the angry, hurt feelings you’re harboring?
If so, it’s a sign that you have some inner healing to do. You can’t change your partner. You can only change yourself. That means that YOU need to take responsibility for many of your own feelings by becoming aware of how you’re creating them with your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. You can do this in my 30-day program here:Learn How