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Understanding Emotional Triggers and Responses: Exploring the Difference

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Emotions play a significant role in our lives, shaping our experiences and influencing our interactions with others. At times, we find ourselves in situations where our emotions are heightened, and it becomes essential to differentiate between being triggered and having an emotional response. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually represent distinct aspects of our emotional landscape.

Let's delve into the disparity between emotional triggers and emotional responses to gain a clearer understanding. When we talk about being triggered, we are referring to an intense emotional reaction that stems from a specific event, remark, or action. Triggers can evoke a range of emotions such as anger, hurt, neglect, or feeling insulted. These reactions can be so powerful that we may feel an overwhelming urge to retaliate, either verbally or even physically.

The triggered state often draws upon past experiences, utilizing them as ammunition to fuel our response. It's as though a switch has been flipped, and we feel compelled to lash out, using whatever means necessary to defend ourselves.

Recognizing when we are triggered can be challenging, as the force of the emotional reaction may overpower our rational thinking. Our inner parent, which acts as a guiding force to keep our emotions in check, can struggle to assert itself in these situations. Instead, the inner child takes the reins, dictating our actions and driving us towards confrontation. In such instances, it becomes difficult to temper our responses and find a calmer, more measured approach to resolving the conflict.

On the other hand, emotional responses are slightly different. They occur when we encounter situations that elicit a strong emotional reaction, but the response comes from a place of introspection and understanding.

For example, witnessing instances of injustice in the world might trigger anger within us. However, instead of succumbing to the inner child's impulsive reaction, the inner parent steps forward. This response is guided by compassion and a broader perspective, allowing us to observe the other person's actions and motivations. We recognize that their hurtful words or deeds stem from their own unresolved issues or limited awareness. This understanding empowers us to respond with empathy and a sense of collective responsibility, rather than taking their actions personally.

Reaching a state of emotional response, even in personal matters, signifies inner growth and maturity. The inner parent assumes control, establishing clear boundaries to protect our inner child from harm. It takes charge of directing our energies and responses, ensuring they are not solely driven by the emotional turmoil of the past. Instead, the adult self recognizes the need for assertiveness and may express anger, but without the same emotional charge associated with triggers. This allows for a more measured and objective approach to addressing the situation at hand.

Consider a scenario where you are walking your dog and a cyclist speeds around a corner, posing a potential danger to everyone involved. In this case, an emotional response might manifest as anger, expressed through a stern warning to slow down and avoid potential accidents. Although the response carries an element of anger, it is not fueled by personal triggers related to childhood experiences. Rather, it stems from the inner parent's desire to protect oneself, the dog, and even the cyclist from harm.

It is crucial to differentiate between emotional triggers and emotional responses.

Triggers represent intense emotional reactions rooted in personal wounds and past experiences, often leading to impulsive and defensive behaviour. Emotional responses, on the other hand, stem from a place of understanding, compassion, and a more mature perspective. By nurturing our inner parent, we can effectively navigate these emotional territories, enabling us to respond thoughtfully and cultivate healthier relationships with ourselves and others.

So, the next time you find yourself on the precipice of an emotional reaction, take a moment to reflect. Are you being triggered, or is it an opportunity for an emotional response guided by your inner parent? Understanding this distinction will empower you to navigate your emotional landscape with grace and foster greater emotional intelligence in your interactions.

© Shamala Tan 2023

Let me know how I can assist you if you have any questions [email protected]

Shamala Tan is an author, spiritual entrepreneur and healer. Her work focuses on transforming the lives of others on the spiritual, emotional, mental and earthly levels.

One of her success stories as an author is to be featured alongside New York’s bestsellers Sonia Choquette, Robert Allen, Arielle Ford, Marci Shimoff as well as Christine Kloser in the book Pebbles In The Pond.

Shamala’s clients include small business owners, holistic practitioners as well as those seeking to find more significant meaning and value in life. Shamala offers laser coaching to her clients on a one-to-one basis or in a group environment, offline as well as online.


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