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Standing Down When You've Been Triggered

TRIGGERED. A word that has become almost regular household vocabulary lately in the context of politics. Yes, I am going to talk politics. I'm not here to make any particular stance on any issue, but instead to address how stress and anxiety comes up in the realm of politics, because boy does it ever! I am guilty of often feeling "triggered" by certain political discussions that I feel more emotionally invested in. I think most of us have been there at some point or another. So, how do you stand down, or move on, so to say?

BREATHE. The first and I say first as in, no exceptions, the first thing you should do is take a breath. Why? Well, it takes a few seconds to really take a good deep breath and in those first seconds your initial, triggered reaction usually comes down a bit. In a very dramatic example, say someone insults your girl, the initial reaction is to punch him. You take a 5-10 second deep breath, let your shoulders relax and now your reaction may just be to cuss him out. Still not a great reaction, but arguably better than punching someone.

ASK. Ask yourself, will this matter in 15 minutes? How about an hour? What about tomorrow? And finally, will it matter a year from now? If the answer to any of those questions is no, walk away. Simply walk away and you can deal with the emotional turmoil in a few minutes once you've removed yourself from the situation. I've found that I've said things I wish I could take back more so in those heat of the moment times when I should have just walked away, than in those moments when I was calm, cool and collected.

THINK. If you've done the first two things, a solid 30-60 seconds has probably passed by now and you are likely less emotionally charged than you were at the beginning. Now think, really think about how you want to respond. Will you change the person's mind? Is your response informative or accusatory? How can you shape your response to make it factual instead of emotional?

FEEL. Remind yourself it's perfectly ok to have these feelings. Not everyone agrees and that's ok. Imagine a world where everyone got along. Yes, it would be peaceful, but likely boring. Who really wants a boring existence? So again, your feelings are valid and your beliefs are likely tied to something you truly care about. Guess what? So are everyone else's.

BREATHE. Finally, breathe again. Let it all go and move on.

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