Lesson 2: Triggers

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Melissa Albers  0:02  
Today we're talking about triggers. This is one of our favorite topics.

JJ Parker  0:07  
We love talking about triggers because, for me at least, I get triggered, like multiple times a day. So I, we just have tons of stories and experience.

Melissa Albers  0:20  
Yeah, with triggers. I might even go so far as to say the self awareness journey is here, because you and I talked about triggers for so

Unknown Speaker  0:28  
many years.

Melissa Albers  0:30  
Anyway, I think what our goal today in the triggers lesson really is to help you understand a couple of things. We want to give you what the top five triggers that most people have responses to help you understand what your own triggers are, and capture some of that, so that as you go through the journey, it will be able to really help you as one of the foundational things.

JJ Parker  0:52  
Now, the first time I heard the word trigger kind of used in this context was years ago, my then fourth grader came home from school and was were asking him about his day and he goes all my teacher, she got so triggered

Unknown Speaker  1:11  
today I remember that.

JJ Parker  1:12  
I was like, she got what? He goes, he got so triggered. And I was like, Wow, what an amazing word to describe that. And also, I think you're probably the trigger.

Melissa Albers  1:25  
I know that my children occasionally have been the trigger in my house.

JJ Parker  1:30  
So I felt like I love thinking about those words. Yeah, like, I like getting into the meaning of words. Because Yeah, we use words in our language really shapes, how we see the world and it shapes our thinking patterns and everything. So right we pulled up the dictionary definitions of triggers. This was not not the fourth grader definition, although that one's pretty accurate. So the dictionary definition of a trigger is something that fires off an action when necessary. cific operation occurs

Melissa Albers  2:03  
something that fires off an action.

JJ Parker  2:05  
Yep, that was see sounds like a little more mechanical. Yes. Right. But it definitely happens. Like I can definitely tell myself, yes, that something happens and boom, I fire off.

Melissa Albers  2:15  
Yes, I can tell you exactly where I feel that too when it happens to me.

JJ Parker  2:19  
The second definition I like is an event or situation that causes something to start.

Melissa Albers  2:25  
Yes, that's my favorite one.

JJ Parker  2:27  
And that one's maybe a little bit less, maybe explosive, since we're using terms like checkers. But the idea that a situation causes something to start I think we've all felt Yeah, in our lives, like I know, for me, you know, certain situations, like, especially things like big group gatherings share, you know, that'll start a whole a whole trigger. Yeah. And it's more subtle than fires off. Right. But it's certainly Yeah, is the startup process.

Melissa Albers  2:59  
Yeah. Exactly. So we've identified the top five triggers that a lot of people experience. So this is not a clinical, these are not clinical examples. This isn't backed by Harvard review or anything else like that. However, in years and years of coaching and working with people, these are the top five, so maybe if you want to start, we can get through

JJ Parker  3:18  
though. So the first one we should talk about is self doubt. Yeah. Yes, indeed. And I was, you know, one of the things with the self doubt that, that I experience is something that I call imposter syndrome. Yeah. And for me, you know, I, you know, I run a club. I'm the CEO of a company. And, but I was not a trained CEO. I don't have an MBA. I went to art school, right? Yeah. So when I go to go to these professional events, and there's people with master's degrees and doctorates, and they've got all of this You know, corporate CEO experience Yeah, I feel like very small You know, I'm I'm just an art school kid, you know, and and some of the ways that comes out is really interesting because sometimes when when people ask me what I do, I tell them our company cruise director that I just interesting that I just make sure that we're going in the right direction and everyone's having a good time. Now that's kind of like me minimizing my role because the fact is, is I have you know, over 20 years experience running this company, I know exactly what we're doing. I have no doubt about you know, my leadership. But there's something about this doubt that creeps in for me. Sure. And it's hard. It's hard to deal with it. It happens all Yeah, all the time. I mean, it's it's always there. It's like an undercurrent.

Melissa Albers  4:51  
Yeah. imposter syndrome is something that I hear often in my coaching and the funny thing about that is usually the People that are experiencing imposter syndrome are the ones that are really, really good at what they do. And and that's it. So I mean, I'm not just, I'm not trying to give you an underhand a compliment, although I am but. But that's the truth is many, many people will have that experience of really doubting themselves when their skill set is very high. So that is a really, really common trigger. So another one of the triggers is particular people. And this is a, this is an interesting one. I do a lot of personality assessment stuff. And I've done hundreds of training sessions all around the country over the years. And what's really funny is usually the people that we consider totally our opposite, are the ones that drive us nuts and we think they're wrong. So like when you do personality assessments, and you see some people may be highly detailed. Others may be really, really assertive. On a personality continuum, those two things are considered opposite or certainly Wait against each other. So it's really interesting. So that's a really common one is certain people can just trigger you. And when I say trigger like I have a great example of that. So I was a sales manager years ago, and I had an office in St. Louis Park, and I was the leader of sales people, engineer and support people. There was one sales guy in there who was the nicest guy in the world. And he was the loudest guy in the world. He would come into the office and he would even explode through the doorway of our office. And every time I heard him, I was triggered. Yeah. And I'm not that quiet. I get teased about having an only an outside voice. So this is coming from some experience, right? But he was so loud and he would want to stop at everybody's office door and talk, laugh, tell stories, tell jokes and every single time He stood in my doorway. Every single time I heard him walking towards my doorway, I would start to shut down. And I found myself being rude to him. Not on purpose as a matter of fact, like even saying it now I feel guilty. Yeah, that I had that reaction. Yeah. And yet, there was just some way about his energy that threw me off and I watched other people be thrown off, and I watched him have no awareness about it. So he was someone that I was really triggered by. I want to just stop before we do the other three right now to talk a little bit about guilt as it relates to triggers. It's very interesting that in this piece of awareness, when we feel triggered by something, no matter what it is, it is very common for people to either have a bunch of guilt over it like I shouldn't do that. Why do I? How come I can't just you know, he's the knight. He's such a nice guy. I'm a terrible person, or real shame. Like I always do this every time it's someone like that. And so what happens is we can't even really notice that what's triggered us because we're so busy emotionally feeling just

JJ Parker  8:10  
on the guilt right? Yeah. Like, like if you're able to really separate the guilt part out from the trigger bar. Yeah, you'd be able to notice

Melissa Albers  8:21  
Yeah, you'd be able to sense

JJ Parker  8:22  
the guilt part is so consuming afterwards. Yeah, it's hard to tease that

Melissa Albers  8:26  
yeah trigger and it comes so close behind the trigger. It's so close behind the trigger that a lot of people actually think that's the trigger. You know, there's a Bernie brown does a tremendous amount of work on shame and guilt in and if people are interested, I would also encourage them to check out her work. She did a great TED talk on shame. And but that would be interesting to just as an aside, another really common trigger are certain situations. So like repetitive situations, I should also add, so like If you're in certain group meetings, or there are events that you are participating in, yeah, and and and you don't have full control over, but that you just know they're going to be a certain way and you just start to steal yourself or feel anxious about it. So

JJ Parker  9:18  
for me, I'm very introverted, right? Yeah, like, and I, for the longest time, I never liked going to parties with these mentioned I work events where we had to go Yeah, do a big networking socializing thing. I just, it was so hard for me because that's just not the way yeah, that I engage with people. But I didn't realize that for the longest time until you and I started working together and I started understanding my own personality, but so a party was the worst situation for me to go into. Yeah, yeah. And I always feel so guilty about it. Like why can't I have fun? Everybody else is having fun. What wrong with me like, why can't I do this? Yeah. And so. And that, like I was saying earlier, like, that was like us, you know, that wasn't a fire event. But that was like a slow build up like, I know the party's next week.

Melissa Albers  10:15  
Yeah. I was just gonna ask for

JJ Parker  10:16  
now and it was like, it gets worse and worse. Yeah, we're typing closer to that event, to the point where I'm like, I don't want to know the car.

Unknown Speaker  10:26  
My wife's like, what's wrong with you? I have no idea.

Melissa Albers  10:29  
Yeah, but isn't that interesting? So your trigger starts even way before before but you know, it's coming. Yeah. So as we get really good, you know, at our triggers, because we get really good at our triggers. They can hit us at any time. They can have expanded emotional reaction. Unnecessary if you want to say a judgement word or not. But that's what happens. Yeah, the more something becomes bigger for us, the more we start to respond and react to it, really really early on, and often. Mm hmm. So it's super interesting to note that in this process because as you start to learn what your triggers are, and maybe we've already listed a couple that really resonate for you, we can actually manage these in a very different way. This is not something that you have to live with the rest of your life. Even if you're an introvert, you can still find ways of being in big group settings and being just fine.

JJ Parker  11:24  
Yeah, I mean, I still don't like going to parties. Yeah, exactly. The thing now is like, I can understand what's happening, right? Yes. Actually makes the whole thing much better. Yeah, it's life much better. And, and the, the key is, and we've started a bunch of times is that guilt part like I don't feel guilty. It's just like, I am who I am. I'm gonna do I'm gonna feel this way. I know how it all works. Yeah, I don't feel guilty. I'm gonna go stand in the corner and maybe one other person will come talk to me. Yeah, and I'm counting your ice cubes and all of us have these can be yes. Watch it. Yeah, everyone else.

Melissa Albers  12:01  
Yeah. So I just want to encourage you that if you're hearing certain things, and you're resonating with some of this, the first thing is, is, there is hope. It won't always be like this yet, you're not going to be able to get there just in this conversation listening to, you know, a 30 or 40 minute conversation and then have it be cleared for you. However, this is creating some awareness for you that you will be able to do something with so I, I think it's really awesome. And it just takes some time though, you just have that awareness first, and then you can sort of practice so we'll give you some stuff to practice on here in a moment.

JJ Parker  12:37  
And like we said, The thing with triggers is we get to practice them a lot,

Melissa Albers  12:40  
all the time. And that's why we like the topic because they just come up for us all the time. So the fourth really common trigger is an unfavorable outcome. So what we mean by that is, if you have a certain idea in your mind about how something is going to look or feel and it does doesn't work out that way. Oftentimes, you can, I can, like make myself wrong for that. Like, I expected that when we came to do this show today, I was going to have a different shirt. And I didn't and at the last minute I realized it. And now I feel self conscious. Yeah, like so something as simple as that.

JJ Parker  13:23  
Yeah. What's interesting is, is you know, there's an unfavorable outcome, like, like, you know, I, you want something good to happen, something kind of negative or bad happened. Yeah. Then there's just unexpected things, right. Yeah, I see that a lot of people especially. I see that a lot actually at home where, you know, as a family we expected we were going to go right to a thing didn't work out. We ended up somewhere else. The net result of that is probably nothing ever is maybe even more fun than what we expect. Yeah, yeah, just yet. change from We didn't do what we expected to do is a trigger.

Melissa Albers  14:03  
Yes, for sure. Yes. As a matter of fact, like I will plus one that story, when my family would leave for the weekends, when our kids were little, they'd be in the backseat. We would say we're going to leave at one o'clock. I hate being late. Yeah, it would be 120 and we still were nowhere near getting ready out the door. And my husband is doing everything double checking the water double checking, you know, right and I am watching my clock for explosive leave 20 minutes. Yeah, we used to get in arguments about it years ago and the kids are little we'd be going down the driveway to leave for this vacation. And we always have a thing that we do in our family, which is we do like the fist bump you know, like this. Okay, so that was always the trigger. That vacation is started. The weekend is started bump we would visit fee we would fist bump, right? Well in those events, if we got out of there. 20 minutes 30 minutes later, I was mad. Yeah,

JJ Parker  14:56  
right. No fist bumping for you

Melissa Albers  14:58  
not for about 20 miles. And then my husband would look over, he could tell all right, her energy shifted, and he would just go like he'd lean over and do this. And then I would bump on our way. That's funny. It could be something that small. Yeah, but these things collect. Collect energy. Yeah.

JJ Parker  15:14  
And he, you know, when when we're talking about family, I noticed, you know, we've I've got three kids, and they're all three different.

Melissa Albers  15:23  
Yeah, right.

JJ Parker  15:24  
Yeah. And I can tell that that one of them in particular is much more sensitive to when things don't go what the way he thought they were gonna go, and it completely triggers them. So I one thing that you can do as you work on this in yourself is actually observe it in others, right, because it's generally easier to see

Unknown Speaker  15:45  
things that others easier to see triggers and others.

Melissa Albers  15:49  
Aha, you've just been triggered. Let me tell you what that's all about point

JJ Parker  15:52  
them out from experience. I know they don't that doesn't work. Well. Yeah, I don't recommend that but at least observing it. Yes. And then You know, for as a parent, yeah. When when I started observing, like, oh, he gets really triggered when plants don't go, you know, the way he thought, Well, I can help manage that for you, right? I can help teach him that, hey, when things don't go according to plan, here's how we can deal with it. Yes, it's still hard and it's still, you still don't like it, but you know, you're gonna coach them through that. So yeah, and that helps me, it helps me start recognizing earlier and myself.

Melissa Albers  16:27  
Yes, exactly. Right. And I was just gonna say like, as a coach, or if you're in partnership with other people while you are in partnership with other people, but if you're in close relation with people and you see them getting triggered, usually I'm going to tell you that the reason you recognize it in them is that you to have it and the very best way to support that person is to not do anything about that person's trigger. But if they're open and it seems like a good time, you could say something like, I just noticed that you seemed like that bothered you a lot and I I have had that exact same thing. And this is what I've done. So using yourself as an example and how you have come through something is really the very best way to talk about triggers with other people as well. That's a good

JJ Parker  17:11  

Melissa Albers  17:12  
Yeah. Because if you go in with a stick, and you bonk them over the head with, let me just tell you how triggered you are. And every single time you're trying to leave town for the weekend, and we're six minutes late, you get triggered, that doesn't go doesn't go. That doesn't go well, at all. Anyway, so then the final of the five is unrealized feelings or emotions. And I have a really good example of that that actually just happened this last weekend. So we are just coming off a holiday weekend and my father has had cancer and had a stem cell transplant about seven months ago. So everything is different in our family, and it's all good, everything's fine. It's there's nothing bad. We're so grateful that he is where he is. You know, he's Not himself anymore. Well, not right now because he's more tired, right? So we're at the dinner table. And we have a whole family of introverts, except my dad and I. And I noticed at the dinner table that I was feeling anxious, and I couldn't figure out why because we were all having fun and everything. And then I realized, Oh, he's quiet. He's being quiet. And I immediately felt like, anxious. So we'll get to this next piece here in a minute. But I had a physical response, when I realized that I had all these feelings of he's quiet. He's not acting himself. Hmm. He and I are who carry the load for the extraversion.

JJ Parker  18:46  
You know, now it's all on me. Yeah, you felt a big burden that you carry the whole conversation for the whole dinner and

Melissa Albers  18:52  
it hit me like a ton of bricks. Like I kept thinking, What am I feeling what is this something feels really off. What is it and it took probably five meals over the weekend. And finally the fifth or six I went, Oh, I, I feel so responsible to make him feel okay and to make everybody feel okay, now, it wasn't my job. Yeah. But that's how I felt. So I had this major trigger.

JJ Parker  19:16  
And in fact, the introverts were just waiting for you to be quiet.

Melissa Albers  19:18  
Exactly. They were just thinking, Okay, now one's quiet now. Just get the other one don't throw the key away.

JJ Parker  19:27  
Well, it is really interesting, because I'm sure you know, as you kind of explored, explored that. I mean, you there's a lot of feelings happening. Oh, yes. Yes. an aging parent and health issues and the changing dynamics. I mean, that's a lot to deal with. Yes. Yeah. It is it for sure. And those are all down in there. Right. Yeah, they're gonna come out in weird ways. Yeah, I don't expect Yeah,

Melissa Albers  19:50  
I mean, that was such a shock for me, because, you know, we're all so glad we're there. We're having fun. It was really awesome to be together and no company. Plants are anything, but that even even in a situation that seems like it's all good, it's all positive, there can be this little hanging thing there, right and exploring it a little bit helped me understand what it was. And I feel actually really good that I figured out what it was. And I also feel really good that I then recognized my response to it was actually not needed. It wasn't needed, you know. So anyway, so that Yeah, so that's, that's so that would be an example of unrealized feelings or emotions. So those are the top five triggers. What I would ask you to do now is just for a moment, reflect on the examples that JJ and I have given you. Just sit for a moment and reflect on those. And I want to ask you, if any of those resonate for you, if they do, jot that down right now, and I want to go to the next part, which we have not yet talked about, which is how your body responds Yeah, okay. So anytime that there is a trigger, your body responds to it before your brain, you will have a physical reaction before you have a mental reaction, which is crazy because our brain works pretty fast. Right, right. Yep. So what I'd asked you to do now is I'd like you to just sit for a moment and if you can jot down what you were feeling as we were giving our stories if there were certain things that resonated for you. The next thing I would ask you to do is to identify where did you feel it in your body? We'll talk more about this in the feelings lesson. But where did you feel it in your body? Was it your stomach? Did your stomach get tight? Did your chest feel heavy? Did you feel overwhelming heaviness across your shoulders? Or did your throat feel tight? Where did you feel those triggers? Yeah,

JJ Parker  21:56  
I sometimes feel hot. Do you right like yeah Kinda like Tingley.

Melissa Albers  22:01  
Yeah. For me, my throat feels like it's swell shut, like I lose my ability to talk which, which is really something. So what I would ask you to do now as we're closing down on completing our conversation for the triggers lesson is for you to just sit with the information that we gave you and identify what some of your triggers are. And then notice where they are in your body. Now, this isn't a really great, high, great, happy feeling conversation. Yet, I want to tell you that if you can get to the source of your triggers, you will be so incredibly happy because you'll learn how to process and manage those triggers in a completely different way. So so that's the first thing is to have that activity is to just sort of notice where everything's going on and what your triggers were, and then immediately go right to the workbook and capture we've got a bunch of great questions and stuff for you. there too, so to capture the rest of your thoughts and feelings regarding triggers there. So take care. Thanks very much.