Outwitting Wrongheaded Triggers that Hurt by Tweaking Hot buttons to Trigger Happiness
Better triggers, better responses
Have you ever done things you never thought you’d ever do?
Have you ever found yourself fighting tooth and claw with your loved ones?
Have you ever come to the point when you no longer recognized who you are anymore?
Unaware and Clueless
All because you want something so bad.
You want something so much you can’t stop thinking about it.
You dream about something so hard you just know it will come true …
You are totally unaware that, as Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter, say in Triggers: Creating Behaviors that Last — Becoming the Person You Want To Be:
“We make plans, set goals, and stake our happiness on achieving these goals. But our environment constantly intervenes.”
And you aren’t even aware of the triggers that stop you. You’re clueless about the triggers that stop you from writing. Triggers that stop you from achieving. Triggers that arouse anger and stop you from getting what you want.
The Fight for a Dream
Then, when everything goes wrong, you start fighting. You fight with yourself by calling yourself a failure. And you fight with others, blaming them for what went wrong. For you succumb to those anger triggers. For you think you’re fighting for your dream …
You think you’re fighting for your dream of a satisfying relationship and a better life with your husband.
But when he fails to live up to that dream and falls off the wagon, the fight is on.
For his drinking has kicked in, according to Goldsmith and Reiter,
the “nonacceptance trigger.”
Goldsmith and Reiter explain that by being
“reluctant to admit any defeat, [you] can’t help equating ‘acceptance’ with ‘acquiescence.’”
So you fail to accept reality. You fail to accept human weakness. You fail to accept that people make mistakes.
And you fight … harder.
Because the fear inside that you made a mistake, a mistake you can’t face, triggers adrenaline and the fight instinct.
It’s either fight or run away.
And you’re tired of running. So you struggle to hold onto your dream. And the battle becomes a bloody fight for its survival.
The High Cost of Ignoring Reality
For even though you don’t get what you want, instead of facing defeat and cutting your losses, you still refuse to accept reality.
You simply can’t let go of that desire, that want, that feeling that you have to have what you want.
No matter what the cost.
Without realizing that the high cost of ignoring reality is …
the loss of the person you were meant to be.
For that wish, that dream brings out the worst in you instead of your best.
You say mean, nasty things to the one you profess to love. You snarl with bitterness and anger. You give him the cold shoulder without giving him the slightest chance to apologize or explain.
Thus, you become someone even you don’t recognize.
For, instead of you driving your life, your hot button has been pushed. and is driving you. You’ve lost control … of yourself and your life.
Triggered by Wants
As Goldsmith and Reiter explain, the trigger isn’t in the dream, but in your choices. They explain further that your real problem is not so much the failure of your dream, but the fact you have chosen what you want instead of what you need.
What you want is instant gratification. The feeling of being loved. Your desire fulfilled.
Thus, say Goldsmith and Reiter,
“We take in what we want to hear, but tune out the displeasing notes that we need to hear.”
We ignore and filter out the facts of reality. Like the fact that an alcoholic will often relapse even after he has decided to make a change in his life and stop drinking.
Like the fact that you aren’t being helpful or even loving when you fight with him instead of waiting until he is sober to have a more productive conversation.
For you are determined to prove him wrong … and that you are right.
Even though the truth is struggling to surface.
Even though, when you’re alone, your fears and anxieties about the future put a knot in your stomach and an ache in your heart.
Until the day you become aware of the facts. Until you realize that …
say Goldsmith and Reiter,
“an appealing distraction can trigger a self-defeating choice. You’ve sacrificed your goals for short-term gratification.”
Acknowledging your Triggers
And as the Al-Anon book Courage to Change reminds you:
“I can’t cope with something unless I acknowledge its reality. When I am willing to look at the whole picture, I take the first step toward a more manageable life.”
When you tattoo that idea upon your heart, then you begin to free yourself from that nonacceptance trigger. For you are tweaking your hot buttons.
Goldsmith and Reiter also say, “no matter how extreme the circumstances, when it comes to our behavior, we always have a choice.”
You have a choice of what you respond to and how you respond. And anything can become a trigger. For “a behavioral trigger is any stimulus that impacts our behavior.”
Even a negative event like drinking that has triggered bad behavior can become a beneficial trigger — a productive trigger — that sets off your behavior of understanding and acceptance.
For there are productive triggers and counterproductive triggers. And the more you become aware of your triggers, become aware that you have reacted unconsciously to a counterproductive trigger …
you sooner you regain control of what you do.
Because even a trigger that was created by parents who fought about your dad’s drinking can be altered…
When you become aware of it, you can begin to make better choices.
Goldsmith and Reiter also state,
“When we bluntly challenge ourselves to figure out what we can change and what we can’t, what to lose and what to keep, we often surprise ourselves with the bold simplicity of our answers.”
You come up with the answer that explains why he fell off the wagon in the first place. For he was also reacting to his own unconscious and counterproductive triggers.
Building Better Triggers
Awareness and reevaluating your choices give you a better chance of making better choices when responding to unconscious triggers like his drinking.
You can either choose to let go of him and your hopeless dream; or fight for him instead of against him.
Then you are choosing the happiness trigger. You are choosing what you need, like self-love, and self-respect, instead of your infantile wishes and your futile hopes. You are choosing to be happy no matter what the outcome. With or without him.
The happiness trigger has been tattooed on your heart by your awareness of the consequences of succumbing to wrong-headed triggers. And by the decision to make better choices from this moment onward.
What Unconscious Triggers are Driving You?
Are you becoming aware of any automatic triggers that hurt you and the people around you?
Are you tattooing the truth on your heart that you are solely responsible for the choices you make today? And that you can make better choices when you take a moment to become aware of the hot buttons that set off your bad behavior …
and then you make different choices.
Facing reality doesn’t mean you give up your hopes, wishes, and dreams. For as Henry David Thoreau says, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost. That is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.”
Build the foundations of better behavior. Those foundations are built by tweaking your hot buttons, tattooing better thoughts to respond to on your heart, and choosing to trigger happiness instead of misery.
Then your dreams of becoming who you really want to be will soon become your reality.