Learning Lessons From My Triggers

Learning life lessons from my triggers
I'm Emma!

Creative success coach, Photographer, rescue dog mom, book worm, INFJ, Enneagram 3, doing my best to be mindful, kind & help people be their most authentic, purposeful selves.


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Last week was a little trying and I found myself having to do some quite challenging inner work. 

I decided I’d test the Facebook ad waters with my coaching business and see if on this occasion I’d have a bit of luck, I’ve simply wasted money all the previous times I’ve dabbled with paid ads, but hey I’m an eternal optimist and I figured the millionth time might be the charm. I had some bites on a coaching offer I promoted….from a collection of crusty old men who were interested in having relationships with me #winning and I got some enquiries from what I can only describe as ‘scavengers’ who slid into my DMs to try and sell me their marketing services. It’s safe to say that all things considered it was an incredibly disappointing fail.

A couple of other relatively minor business irritations came up and as, what seemed like, setback after setback piled up I was left feeling rather deflated, frustrated and fed up.

Cue a call from one of my best friends who had nothing but great career news to share with me. She told me about the brilliant work opportunities coming her way and whilst I wanted to be thrilled for her (she has worked incredibly hard to achieve the success she’s enjoying and she absolutely deserves it) I was suddenly staring down some big emotional triggers: jealousy, inadequacy and disappointment in not doing as well for myself.

“Your triggers are your responsibility, it isn’t the world’s obligation to tiptoe around you.”

Emotional triggers can blindside you if you let them. They often appear out of the blue thanks to something that’s been said, something you’ve seen (social media is prime trigger real estate) or a circumstance you find yourself in now that reminds you of an unpleasantry that’s gone before. Left unchecked triggers can lead to rumination, negative thought loops, unkind behaviour and as a result of all the bandwidth they take up, procrastination and anxiety.

Triggers can be related to past trauma, unhealed childhood wounds, unmet needs, unacknowledged desires or unachieved goals and you’re far more likely to get triggered when you’re not emotionally well regulated. In fact, if you’re finding yourself being overly reactive on a regular basis it might be a sign that there’s some unaddressed stress going on in your life. 

Had I been feeling calm and content when my pal called to tell me her news, I’d have been genuinely thrilled for her, but thanks to a difficult few days, hearing her successes was a stark reminder of the things that hadn’t worked out for me and gave my trigger train the signal that it was time to leave the station, full steam ahead. 

I was able to recognise right in the moment of our conversation that I was feeling triggered so I could avoid making a reactive, snarky or unsupportive comment (jealousy is never pretty). Once we got off the phone I took the time to investigate the triad of negativity that had popped up for me, work through it and let the unwanted feelings go.

Here’s my trigger taming process:

  • Notice you’re feeling triggered
  • Be mindful about having a knee jerk reaction because you’re triggered, especially if there’s another person involved who you could potential upset
  • Identify what happened to cause the triggered feeling
  • Acknowledge and name all the feelings that came up
  • Investigate why this particular event triggered you – I find journaling really helpful to work through negative emotions
  • Ask yourself how you could reframe the situation so it won’t trigger you again in future and what you can learn if you changed your perspective
  • List out the action steps you can take to effect the change that will stop the trigger
  • Get help from a professional coach or therapist if you’re struggling with persistent triggers

Once I’d processed through how I felt after the conversation with my friend, I was able to dig into what I could learn from the negative reaction I’d had. I’m really ready to make coaching a full time venture (it’s currently a part time side hustle) and the Facebook ads fail felt like a massive slap in the face to that goal. Not only did I not attract any great clients, I did the opposite. But what does that tell me? I had my audience defined incorrectly, expecting to launch into the stratosphere with one paid ad is unreasonable and perhaps I should try some brand new marketing avenues (there’s a new and exciting one loading as we speak) before I call failure. 

One short conversation made me sit up and acknowledge what I want, motivated me to look at some different marketing avenues in order to achieve my goal, forced me to sit with some unpleasant emotions and deal with them rather than letting them spill out all over other people and made me feel extra grateful for my handsome fiance so I don’t ever have to consider dating a crusty old man from the internet 😆.

“Your triggers have a great deal of wisdom to share, you just need to be brave enough to listen.”

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