Day 41 - Emotional Triggers

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Robin Boudette, Ph.D.
 

Robin is a psychologist in Counseling and Psychological Services at Princeton University, and has worked 14 years with students. She is the former Director of the University Medical Center at Princeton Eating Disorders Program, and founder of the Mind-Body Health Services Team. 

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Understanding and managing our emotional triggers is a fundamental element of self-awareness. We all have buried memories that lead us to super-react instantly and negatively to triggering stimuli. It could be a tone of voice, a facial expression, a situation, a particular phrase - or the onset of a mood or state of mind. Whatever the case, the trigger matches the occurrence to a memory and fires.

We all have triggers around opposing beliefs, past trauma, and ego preservation. Our instant reaction may be hurt, anger, fear, shame, or some compulsion or craving. Triggers lead to unthinking emotions and behaviors that can spiral us into sadness, depression or conflict.   

 

As important as it is to surface and understand what our triggers are - it’s equally important to simply recognize the onset. Mindfulness trains us to become acutely aware of emotional and embodied signals that can serve as our early warning system - and to apply strategies that help us stop, step away and organize ourselves in response. 

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