Feeling wound up by certain people? Find out why and what to do about it

If you get really wound up by certain people or situations and it’s starting to become a bit of a problem – at work or at home, then stay with me to find out why, and how to manage this the next time it happens. Responding irrationally towards a certain person is one of the most common behavioural issues I deal with on a daily basis with clients – both corporate and private, so I know the impact this can have, and that it’s really worth getting a handle on this.

Step 1 – Recognise what’s happening

What I’m talking about is when you behave or respond so extremely – but only at certain times, and especially with certain people. For example, there may be a woman at work who really winds you up and literally feels like she makes your blood boil every time she speaks in a meeting, or you get extremely angry when you can’t find a piece of important paperwork at home.  

You blame your partner for choosing this flat in the first place, your children for moving things around and not putting things back in their rightful place. You are being triggered. Something is called a trigger when an event or interaction with a person brings up more emotion than it should.  

That’s because it is usually connected to a previous situation or person in your life that caused you some kind of emotional trauma.  Psych Central, a mental health website describes a trigger: A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.

Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people.

The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback. When you are being triggered, you are being taken back (all unconsciously, all within a split second), to a time and place when one or several of your needs was not met, and this is what caused the trauma.  

Then what happens is you react to this new person or situation as if it were the old one.  You are literally being re-traumatised – all in a split second, and all without you even being aware of it. So ask yourself now, who is the person that most winds you up?  What or who, do they remind you of? What was the need that wasn’t met with that original source of trauma? To help identify the original need that wasn’t being met for you, the following list includes some of the most common emotional triggers:

acceptance respect be liked be understood be needed be valued be in control be right be treated fairly comfort freedom love safety feel included

Step 2 – Separate out this triggered version

Now think back to the last time this happened.  Connect to how you feel – irrationally angry, upset, scared, whatever it is, really go to it and experience it in your body.  Now imagine yourself acting out that behaviour (not pleasant to do I know, but worth it I promise).  

Now separate that triggered version of yourself  – and put them literally in front of you.  Notice what they look like, how they are behaving, do they remind you of anyone or anything? Commonly these triggered versions of us tend to look like cartoon characters, caricatures of us as teenagers, or even animals – one of my client’s the other day was a huge roaring bear with big yellow claws.  

My recent one that came out was Minnie the Minx – an angry female cartoon character from The Beano comics, and the other day she popped up with a vengeance – in a situation where I was triggered back to feeling unsafe and uncared for (we’ve all got them and it was that incident that prompted me to write this blog ;).

Step 3 – Have a conversation

Now that you have identified this triggered version of yourself, talk kindly to this wounded or scared part of you.  Let them know you are there for them, tell them you will protect them, and that they no longer have to act out or lash out any more.  

Thank them for warning you of any dangers.  Ask them what they need now. And when you do this, be with whatever emotion comes up – you may need to cry, be angry, whatever it is it’s really important just to allow it. Notice what happens to them.

Usually, they will settle down, relax, need a rest.  

My Minnie The Minx needed to go off and watch TV in a big comfy chair. And now take care of yourself – you have experienced trauma – an old one has been triggered – so you do need to recover from this.  

Do whatever works for you, but walking tends to be a good one,  any form of exercise, and other things that comfort you – a hot bath, being out in nature, spending time with your pets, a hug from a loving, safe person in your life. I found this useful please sign up to my newsletter to receive more practical tips and tools.

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