Triggers in personal growth

A trigger is a reminder of an emotionally painful experience of the past. It is a certain situation or moment that causes you to explode, be heartbroken or grieve stricken.

Triggers are emotional reactions such as jealousy, a feeling of rejection, anger, hurt, bitterness, or sadness. Smells, sounds, tastes, or actual events are also regarded as triggers.

We use the term trigger, because of the emotion awoken inside of you. It happens quickly, without thinking or planning. Something that irritates you is a good example of an emotional trigger. It can be a person or an object you dislike, or simply a reminder of the past. For example, if someone promises to do something, but never does, this may irritate you due to a connection with your childhood.

If you had a father who always made promises but never kept them, a feeling of rejection might lurk in your memory. When the beforementioned person comes to you with an empty promise, the trigger might manifest as anger or irritation.

An emotional trigger is rooted as a survival reaction.  If you have been hurt in a previous relationship, no matter how hard you try never to experience it again, a certain behaviour or remark from another person may trigger you to go into flight or fight mode.

To identify emotional triggers, you can make list of things that stir up negative emotions inside of you, such as anger, anxiety, hurt, rejection, sadness, intimidation or frustration.

It is crucial to remember, however, that if a person rouses a trigger inside of you, they might not necessarily do it on purpose. You may just be tired or in a bad mood, but if that same person keeps triggering you, he or she is an emotional trigger.

An example of this is when your boss criticises you on your work, and you act offensively without good reason. The root of your anger may lie somewhere else, like with your father. He might have always criticised you on your homework, and never praised you. You do not automatically think of your father when criticised, hence emotional triggers are so complicated. You may have no idea why you feel a certain way.

Let us look at some examples of emotional triggers. Write down the positive and negative emotions.



  • Watch romantic movies.
  • To be unconditionally accepted by an important person in your life.
  • To give or receive gifts.
  • If you think of your husband or wife.



  • If you see children playing.
  • To hear beautiful music.
  • To experience success.
  • To think of a personal victory.



  • To think of failures.
  • To think of a loved one who died.
  • To feel rejected.
  • The failure to reach an important milestone.



  • To be alone in a strange place or place that makes you nervous.
  • To be threatened by someone.
  • To think of rejection by someone close to you.
  • To think about trauma in your past.



  • To be criticized or to be teased.
  • To be challenged by someone.
  • To find out someone betrayed or stabbed you in the back.
  • To lose your job.



  • To lie to someone.
  • Thinking of yourself as a failure.
  • To say something to someone which hurt him or her.
  • To have made empty promises.


Other trigger examples are:

  • If someone rejects you.
  • A lover who wants to or threatens to leave you.
  • Someone who ignores you.
  • Someone close to you who is not available when you need them.
  • Someone who gives you a disapproving look.
  • Someone who blames or humiliates you for something.
  • Someone who is judgmental or critical towards you.
  • Someone who is too busy making time for you.
  • Someone who not seems to be excited to see you.
  • Someone who wants to control you.


You are unknowingly affected by the abovementioned triggers, by acting like the following:

  • You get angry.
  • You become needy.
  • You become a people pleaser.
  • You withdraw from people.
  • You blame others for your pain.
  • You get addicted to drugs, smoking, alcohol, work, pornography, sex, food, shopping, or gambling.

The triggers in you is just a red light that goes on that says “ you still must deal with this issuse” and it is an emotional wound which happens in the past.




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