Do you know what triggers you?



How are you?

I wanted to reach out to you personally to see how your plans for this year are progressing. 

Nice to reconnect with you. How did we come in contact for the first time? Most probably, you either attended some of my events earlier in the year, you are a member of the Growth Mindset for Managers community or you follow my posts on LinkedIn. 

The topic I chose for today is triggers.


Do you know WHAT triggers you?

Notice that I did not say WHO. Of course, we are triggered in relationship with something or someone; and because of that, it is easy to transfer the cause of the trigger outside us.

But is it so?

The strengths that have helped you to succeed so far are also your greatest emotional triggers when you feel someone is not honouring what makes you special and unique. 

How does this even become possible?

Your brain is a survival mechanism. It evolved to this complexity especially to take care of your survival. Which means, your brain will always make sure you pay lots of attention to any source of danger that comes your way.

People have 3 major categories of needs:

  • Need for autonomy including need for freedom, for staying in control, for order, need for being right or being treated right or fair;
  • Need for belonging including the need to be accepted as a legitimate member of a group, need for appreciation coming from other group members or the leaders, need to contribute and be needed by the others, need to be heard, listened or given attention;
  • Need for safety covering the need to be protected or receive protection, comfort, balance and peacefulness, love, trust, predictability, or even fun or variety.

Whenever your brain perceives that your need is not honoured, and that someone or something is taking from you any of the elements listed above, then your emotions get triggered.

And usually you will feel your emotional responses as negative, since the sensations associated with it have a negative taste. 

And while your brain will focus (by default) on what got wrong and why or how your need got endangered, your automatic reaction would contain anger, fear, shame, guilt, envy, restlessness, etc.

Why do we have these negative emotions in the first place? Are they good at anything?

Yes, they are there to make you aware that something needs to be done, that you need to do something to restore your safety.

What is happening next is that you quickly rationalise your behaviour, and will find and provide for yourself a justification for the behaviour you have just had, helping you to make sense of the whole situation and emotionally survive the circumstances. 

And although your emotional survival gets reestablished on the spot, you will see later the real impact of the way your brain operates.

You may lose the trust of people. You may lose courage or react in a way that could hurt your relationships in the future, or your own confidence. You may overreact in a way that discredits yourself, and creates a barrier in your relation with others.

You will need to discover if the threat of your need was/is real or not. Some of these needs will be very important to you. Others will hold no emotional charge for you. Needs are not good nor bad. They just are, and you have them because they served you well in a certain period of your life, mainly in childhood.

However, the more you become attached to these needs, the more your brain will be on the lookout for circumstances that threaten your ability to have these needs met. Aggravating even more your emotional triggers. 

You must judge the TRUTH of reality. Here there are several questions you can use for this:

  • What is this need of yours you perceive to be endangered?
  • Are you really losing on it or not? 
  • Is your need being taken for real or are you taking the situation too personally? 
  • If it’s true that someone is ignoring your need or blocking you from achieving it, can you ask for what you need?
  • If it doesn’t really matter, can you let the need go? 
  • If it matters but there is nothing you can do that would re-establish your need being satisfied, what do you need to acknowledge or accept?
  •  Is there any new piece of knowledge or an inner power you can grow allowing you to re-establish your inner safety?


Without consciously acknowledging the need that is triggering your emotional reaction, you become enslaved to the need. 

The more you practise a response out of your fear of losing the safety for a need, the more you use your brain in the same pattern to enslave you to your need.

And this is how thinking saboteurs appear. Having thinking saboteurs is deeply human. They come by default with the way our brain evolved for survival.

Positive Intelligence® identified 10 archetypes in which we operate to fulfil our needs. These are: the Judge, the Avoider, the Controller, the Hyper-Achiever, the Hyper- Rational, the Hyper-Vigilant, the Restless, the Pleaser, the Stickler and the Victim. All of them have a similar negative potential impact over our state of wellbeing.  Through the negative or heavy emotions they trigger and entertain in us, they clutter your ability to take inspired or creative decisions, or to make bold, courageous or meaningful steps in your life.

Once you grow aware about how they feel, think and act, you can intercept your saboteurs at work and have an honest discussion with yourself around the need you feel is in danger, and how real is actually that danger. 

There is a huge difference between an actual danger and what just feels to be a danger. Do not forget that you learnt to feel this way due to the thinking saboteurs you nurtured so far in your life.

I put together a practical pocket guide, giving you the ability to recognise and bust these saboteurs at work. Download it here (free).

Write to me if you have any questions about it. As always, I am very interested to know what you take to be useful from this letter and how you are going to apply it.

If you want to make progress on working at your emotional triggers, book a free 90-minute discovery call.

I thank you for being part of my world.


Until next,

Alina Florea

Your mindset trainer




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