Stress always initiates from a trigger. Many times, you aren't even aware this trigger has taken place because it's hidden in the programming of your subconscious mind. There are general, social triggers that the majority of society responds to, such as grid-lock traffic or obnoxious co-workers, and there are personal triggers, like being alone in the house at night or having to drive yourself somewhere. Personal triggers are personal because they effect you differently than they do someone else, and there's always a reason they're there.
As children, we're taught to react in a certain way. Even if your parents never literally sat you down and said, "This is how you handle this situation," they still taught you how to act and react by their own actions. They set an example, and children learn from what they see and experience.
Becoming aware of how/when/where and why your personal stress begins is the first step in locating your personal triggers. When you become consciously aware that you're getting overwhelmed, you have the power to stop stress dead in its tracks. But you have to make the decision to do so.
A good way to start locating your personal triggers is to make a list of what makes you angry, sad, scared and frustrated. Any emotions you consider negative. By dealing with these emotions face to face, you become aware of them. Take a serious look at how you react to each emotion, and come up with a new way of handling them. If you know you are prone to anger, dig deep and find out why certain situations make you angry. Every time you come up with an answer, ask yourself why. When you answer that question, ask yourself why again. After a while, you'll find yourself laughing at your response. Here's an example:
Let's say you're prone to get angry over sitting at a red traffic light. You're sitting there, counting the seconds as they tick by, getting angrier with each one. Your inner dialogue may sound like this:
"Any time! I have things to do here!"
"Why do you have things to do?"
"Because I have to get "such-and-such" done."
"Because I'm on a time crunch here!"
"Because that's the way life is!"
Get the point? Pretty silly, huh?
Now, at this point, some people tend to get angry at themselves, which only makes the situation worse. Don't allow this to happen. If anything, allow the inner dialogue moment to pass the time while you're sitting there. Before you know it, it's your turn to go. Learn to laugh at yourself, and take responsibility for how you create your own anger, sadness, fear and frustration.
You have the power, at any time, to change the personal programming that is causing your stress. You simply have to take responsibility for your emotional reactions in all situations. Asking yourself, "Why?" will cause you to dig deeper into the subconscious mind and find out, well... WHY you have the reactions you do.
Sometimes, you'll find yourself in situations that push your buttons, and no matter how hard you try, you can't seem to let it go. Rarely will you be in a situation that you simply can't walk away from. So don't be afraid to do so. It's better to walk away, and get your emotions under control before you do or say something you'll regret. Sometimes a situation cannot be changed, so accept it. Nothing says you have to be emotionally involved. You choose to be emotionally involved, and if you can't change it, learn to accept it. Once you do this, you'll realize how easy life can be. Sometimes it simply is what it is... and you always have a choice in how you respond.
Children are an exception to the "walk away" rule. They are dependent upon their environment. It's our responsibility as adults to set an example, and make that environment as positive as we can. Adults have issues because they were children with issues. Growing up doesn't mean the programming goes away. If anything, it gets worse because it's been bottled up for years. Children experience stress just like adults, and if that stress is an everyday occurrence in their life, they become stressed out teenagers, who become stressed out adults, who take that stress out on their children. See the pattern? Help be a part of the solution, and take responsibility to end the cycle.
Locating your personal triggers requires soul searching. You're not going to find them unless you do. You have to take a good long look in the mirror, and find out what makes you tick. If it's not painful, you're not digging deep enough. Figure out the "why's," for they hold the key. Everyone has an emotional reaction issue that requires change. If we didn't, our world would be perfect. So locate your triggers, and change your emotional reactions. By doing so, you'll change the way you look at the world around you, and help someone else in the process.
Copyright © 2006 Angel Shadow, All rights reserved.
This is second in a six article series on stress/anxiety. My ancestry is Irish and Cherokee Indian and I have a gypsy spirit that refuses to be fenced in. I am definitely not a conformist. Much of my life was spent under the control of others. My childhood was full of abuse and neglect, which lead me to my volunteer abuse work. It also lead to anxiety and panic attacks, which I suffered from for years, so I'm dedicated to helping others in that area as well. I have now found my own personal freedom, based on my own personal truth and nothing could be more liberating.