Anger Triggers – How to Stop Them

What is a trigger?

A trigger is what sets you off.  It can be completely unconscious, unless you have spent time trying to control your angry behaviour; then it can be something you become conscious of.  It can be something that has you shouting in temper and acting very aggressively within moments.

Triggers can be anything at all really and what sets one person off may have no effect on another. Very often, our triggers exist because of previous bad experiences.  For example, somebody who felt very vulnerable and shamed as a child after they did/said something may, as a grown up, experience an intense burst of anger if similar feelings arise.

The exact same conditions do not need to be present, only the persons perception of events and how they feel about them.  A trigger can be pulled so fast that the person has no idea what happened; they only know that they have an intense and angry reaction.

How to recognise when your trigger has been pulled

When someone does or says something that just happens to be your trigger, you can usually tell by the fact the person is a bit perplexed, shocked or surprised at your reaction.  The reason for this is because in most other cases, and with most other people, what they said or did would never cause such a reaction.

The person will usually take a few minutes to figure out what they said to offend or hurt you and will then try to explain that they didn’t mean to cause you any upset.   If you find that you are too angry to allow them to explain and you keep shouting at them and also don’t allow any kind of constructive communication, they will normally get very angry right back at you.

The reason?  They will feel misunderstood and they will feel like you have just been very unfair to them.  They will not know that they just pulled your trigger and will see your reaction and behaviour as grossly over the top and offensive.

You can see the problem here. 

One person has taken extreme offence at the actions/words of another BUT the other person has no idea what they did wrong.  Once reason has flown out the window, you can be left with 2 very angry people.

It’s not only other people

Some people’s triggers are objects; objects breaking or not working as expected.  But it doesn’t matter what triggers your anger, people or objects, it is the same processes at play.  Your trigger is re-creating intense angry emotions within you and you are then acting out those angry feelings. Ask yourself this though, is it rational to become so angry with, for example, a broken plate or a computer game that you can’t win at?

What to do to stop your trigger

It is not other people that must learn what your triggers are and then stop pulling them.  It is you who needs to identify what your triggers are and why you have them.  Figure out where did they come from and why do you get so hurt, offended and angry.  Once you know this you can then identify them as and when they happen.  You can choose to react in a different, calmer way.  Best of luck.

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