If not today, then yesterday. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. Truth is, everyone gets triggered too easily these days. I used to be.
You’re in a decent, normal chat with another human being. Everything’s fine until – BAM! Your blood pressure spikes through the roof, your breathings rapid & shallow, and you have vivid visions of strangling the other person. Getting triggered by a single word someone utters is not good behavior. It’s not the sign of an accomplished, mature person. It’s bad behavior, and I used to do it all the time.
‘Samantha’ would be trying to make a point to me, but as soon as she said a trigger-word, I’d get all defensive.
‘Jack’ would be offering me helpful insight, but he’d use one politically incorrect slang term, and I’m jumping all over him.
‘Jessica’ would reach out to me and use the wrong pronoun to describe a celeb, and bam, I’m campaigning to transform her perspective on gender right then & there.
I missed their point, I lost out on the insight, and I wasted my time forcing my views on someone who’s not ready for growth.
I needed to catch my triggers. I needed to notice what provokes extreme responses in me, or I’d just be a puppet, constantly manipulated by my triggers. My friendships would strain or ruined, my relationships sabotaged, and my life overall would be painful.
Like many people, I chose melodrama instead.
At least I got to feel self-righteous and better than these ‘ignorant’ people speaking to me. I got a small rush as I ranted & raved in their DMs. Correcting others was such a dopamine hit. And as a bonus, I got to avoid opening my mind, actively listening, or making any real changes in my belief systems.
And a healthier perspective on each of them.
Or ‘annoyance.’ Or ‘problem.’ I clammed up instantly if anyone mentioned this. I couldn’t possibly let on that I’m human, that I get frustrated. Or that something was bothering me. Or that I had a… gasp… problem.
Which is weird, because the people we look up to, the legends, the Elon Musks, the Beyonces, the Ronaldos have spent their lives owning their frustrations in their careers, and solving them fast… that’s how they got such great lives.
Or pretty. Or beautiful. Or erotic. I used to explode in indignation if anyone implied that society (or business) need such ‘shallow’ these things.
Of course, the people who get mad about this are the same ones who, shortly after being outraged, go home and watch certain Game Of Thrones scenes, read ‘romance’ novels, and listen to WAP by Cardi B.
Someone might say to me, “I know how it feels.” And they’re well-meaning about it. And I know it’s just a figure of speech. They’re just trying to connect, be friendly. And I don’t want to make them spend they’re whole conversation saying “I think I may have had a similar experience, but I’m not assuming,” instead. So do I let the word go?
Nope. I vent at them: “How dare you act like you know me? Like you know my struggle? Like you know what I’ve been through? You don’t KNOW anything!”
At the time, I think I’m being good, reacting properly, but in hindsight, I realize I was just being a dick.
Or advice. Or support. Heaven forbid someone even hint that I need help.
Letting that word go unchallenged would ruin my fragile ego. I’m secretly convinced I’m the best human on the planet and everyone else is lame, but it’s not ok to admit that.
So what happens is: Rather than gently responding to someone trying to help me, I instead snap at them.
“You think you’re smarter than me? Huh? Do ya?” This was a common phrase for me whenever someone even hinted that they might be more intelligent, wiser, or have more expertise than me. I’d quickly give anyone who was smarter than me the cold-shoulder, because I had to be the smartest in the room.
I couldn’t possibly step back and respect their clear-thinking, fresh-views, or possible-wisdom… because then I’d have to admit I was wrong. And I’m never wrong. I’m always right, they’re always wrong. As a foolish youngster, that’s how all my conversations went.
I remember someone telling me they want to help me be ‘better.’ I was furious. “Better?” I thought, “I’m already great, I don’t need to be better.” Instantly blocked.
But it was just my ego talking. Or maybe my trauma, since I’d been failing at life for so long, I was triggered at any mention of being ‘better.’
But guess what? Being better is literally why our species is as good as it is today. Eventually I understood this and stopped getting triggered. Now I’m happy if anyone wants to help me better.
If someone brought up race to me when I was younger, I totally let them have it. Both barrels. “Hello, you might want to look up white privilege!” or “My parents are mixed! How dare you even bring up the topic!”
But these reactions –even if they feel justified– aren’t helpful. They don’t solve the issue. They don’t create healthy discussion. They are reactions that make me a less valuable person, period. They just prevent me from connecting with another human. They just prevent me from helping people advance their views on race.
Fortunately, I relaxed and let go of any need to convince people. I learned to breathe and make a strong, clear case for healthier perspectives on skin color.
“Ugh, I think this guy is selling something.”
Yes. Everyone’s selling something, quit acting like the world is ending. Friends are selling you on upcoming social gatherings. Youtube’s selling you on the next click. Gurus are selling you on their way of life. You’re selling your staff (or boss) on why we need more days off. Selling Is Our Entire Economy. Has been since caveman times. The reason we have such an abundant, productive, advanced species is because of selling.
Even if the selling is done poorly, or it’s spammy, or sleazy, or whatever… put your sword of judgment down, and stop being triggered by it.
Practice? Please, practice is for suckers. It sounds like hard work. I’m not practicing anything. That was what I thought anytime the word ‘practice’ came up. But like all the other triggers, it was silly.
Because we’ve all practiced constantly to get where we are. As kids we practiced walking until we ‘got’ it. We practiced talkin until we ‘got’ it. We practiced reading, writing, arithmetic. And now, as adults & entrepreneurs, we practice selling, making money. Now we practice emotion-management. Now we practice belief-elevation.
“Hello? That’s really insensitive. Could you say genetically different?”
“Uh, excuse me? All bodies are beautiful.”
“Wow, that’s really insensitive, try ‘plus size’ at least.”
I felt so badass when I shut people down like this. Even if they were just trying to make a point about a screw being too fat for a hole, or a finger being too fat to grasp an object.
Instead of paying attention and actively listening to see if there was cruel intent behind their use of the word fat, whenever I heard someone say it, for any reason, I’d trained myself to chirp in with my two cents.
I’ve heard people get triggered by the words ‘milk’, ‘athletic’, ‘impressive’, ‘resume’, and hundreds more. Instead of being able to navigate conversations properly, people create their own mine-field of words they overreact to.
And getting triggered brings out the worst in us.
When we’re triggered our ‘self-protective behavior’ comes out. Stuff like…
It’s not ideal for you to be triggered by these simple, english words. They’re all parts of reality. They exist. You will encounter them. The words are not ‘bad.’ They’re just words, meant to be used. Words are not run from in terror, or hosed down like a fire. If you’re still triggered by these, make sure to pay attention to your reactions when someone says them to you. Practice being emotionally mature. Practice being present, breathing, and choosing gentler, less dramatic responses when someone is writing or speaking to you. Because the truth is…
Being outside-the-box can leave you unsupported & unheard. Which is why I offer…
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