What is Triggering You?

alinafloreadotnet brain function executive coaching May 20, 2022
neuroscience alinafloreadotnet alinaflorea thinkingsaboteurs positiveintelligence

Would you walk serene at the wheel of a powerful, highly expensive car, without having any idea about how it can be steered, operated or maintained? Most probably, many of us would not even dare to think at this scenario.

But what if I would tell you that, unless you really understand how your brain functions, you sit clueless every moment of the day behind the wheel while your car drives you into all kind of situations? And most of the cases, you may put lots of effort to keep up with your car, but have no real clue how to tame its horses.

Why that? Because your brain has all the power. You may have the muscles and the bones, but your body will not do anything without the action or the interference of your brain.

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

In evolutionary terms, this was a successful strategy for the entire human species. However, there is a cost to be paid. It makes it more difficult for us, people, to differentiate between real dangers and perceived dangers.

When it comes about safety, our brain cannot tell the difference between body safety and emotional safety. This means that, we will read situations or circumstances that are not life threatening (i.e. perfectly safe) as jeopardising, detrimental or leaving us vulnerable, just because we perceive our emotional safety was attacked.  

People have a variety of needs which fall mainly under the following 3 major categories:

  • Need for autonomy including need for freedom, for staying in control, for order, for being right or for being treated right or fair;
  • Need for belonging including the need for being accepted, for appreciation, need to contribute or to 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, love, trust, predictability or even fun or variety.

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

In response to the way our brain reads the situation (i.e. danger), it will create in our body a series of reactions which often are experienced as unpleasant sensations in the body. These are called emotions and they last up to 90 seconds. Literally, they are chemistry sparks in our body. But, because they are felt in an unpleasant way, they fall under the stigma of being negative.

When emotions kick in, our brain will do what it was designed to do: it will focus even more on what got wrong and why or how our need got endangered, and our automatic emotional response of fear, sadness, shame, guilt, boredom, envy, jealousy, etc, will get even worse.

So, if they feel so bad, why do we have these negative emotions in the first place? Are they good in any way for us?

All emotions - whether we experience them in a positive or a negative manner - are there to make us aware that something needs to be done, that we need to act or do something. 

We all know that emotions, and associated sensations and reactive actions are happening automatically, as a script. Unless we keep with intention our awareness awake, we will run the same script over and over whenever we perceive any of our needs is attacked.

What is happening after we play this script, is that we quickly rationalise our behaviour, and will search for and provide ourselves a justification for the behaviour we’ve just had. 

Why would we do that? Because it helps us make sense of the whole situation, and emotionally survive the circumstances. Meaning we provide ourselves in the moment a justification of our reaction as an exit door where it feels better, sweetening the taste of emotions we felt when our need was endangered. 

And although our emotional survival gets reestablished on the spot, we see later the real impact of those (re)actions, i.e. on the decisions or choices for action we made under the heat of the emotions.

But, was it a real threat or danger in the first place? As I mentioned, our brain does not make this distinction between actual danger and perceived danger. That is why we will need to discover if the threat to our need was/is real or not. 

We must learn to judge correctly the TRUTH of reality. Here there are several questions you can ask yourself to have an honest assessment.

  • What is this need I perceive to be endangered? 
  • Am I really losing on it or not? 
  • Is it really a need that matters to me? 
  • Is my need being taken for real? 
  • Am I taking the situation too personally? 
  • If anyone is ignoring my need, do I feel I have the power, ability or knowledge to ask for it? 
  • Can I let go of a need that does not matter? 
  • Is there any new piece of knowledge or an inner power I can grow allowing me to re-establish my inner safety?

Without consciously acknowledging the need that is triggering our emotional reaction, we 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 or entertain in us, the thinking saboteurs clutter your ability to take inspired or creative decisions, to make bold, courageous or meaningful steps in your life.

Once we grow our awareness about how they feel, think and act, we can intercept our saboteurs at work and have an honest discussion with ourselves on the TRUTH of reality. 

Do not forget that your thinking saboteurs are patterns in which your brain reads, associates meaning, creates reactions and sensations in your body in its attempt to show you where the danger comes from and push you to take actions to protect yourself.

Do you see now how your brain may entertain a negativity loop without you being aware of it? Becoming aware of them means intercepting these saboteurs at work. This is the only way to break the spiral of entanglement into survival and to take control over your actions.

To support you even better in identifying and busting the thinking saboteurs, I put together a practical pocket guide, giving you the ability to recognise and intercept them at work. You can download from the pop-up window that opens in my website. If you already did it, I thank you very much, I appreciate your self development work. In case we do have not work yet together, I invite you make the next step and book a discovery call with me. Check if I am the right coach for you.

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 article and how you are going to apply it.

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