Why Did I do That?
anger managementUnconscious Actions and Triggers

By Sandra Bemis BCH, CI






Why Did I Do That

Have you ever smelled chocolate chip cookies and instantly felt comfort and love? Has a mere expression on someone’s face put you in a bad mood, even a state of rage? Emotional triggers can be described as an immediate emotional reaction in which the intensity is excessive to the cause. It can be an event, a person, place or any experience that we’ve had. Even tastes, smells or the look on some one's face can trigger excessive responses. The initial event that sets the reaction in stone is usually long over and forgotten. When the conscious mind accepts and attaches an emotion to something, it stores it safely in the unconscious mind much like a filing cabinet. The information just stays there waiting to be opened by some innocent external force.  The subconscious mind stores every memory and is very quick to recall and respond emotions attached to those memories. Triggers can be positive and negative.  It is those negative triggers that usually end up making us say to ourselves, “Why on earth did I say/do that?”

Triggers that are negative cause stress and conflict with ourselves and people around us.  As logical we may think we are, our day is filled with unconscious reactions. They occur in an instant and change our day for the better or worse. Take for example: Jane (not her real name) gets up in the morning to the smell of coffee. “Ahhh, my morning energetic elixir is on its way.” To Jane, that is a happy trigger!! Coffee is a chosen vice.  It helps her focus and she knows it’s her signal of a brand new day. Upon driving her child to school, a blue BMW takes a left in front of her.  Instantly her frame of mind is switched from a happy, coffee holding, good mood to a mood of disdain. “How could that jerk pull out now? How dare he do that to me while I’m trying to get my daughter to school, etc., etc., etc.”  Instantly, she is in conflict and in a bad mood, not even aware of what the heck just happened.

Had this event happened years ago, before Jane’s stress management and inner child work, she would have gone to work in a bad mood, picked fights with colleagues all day, even taking it out on her child in the evening. That morning trigger caused unwarranted emotions throughout the day.  

Having years of self-help and self-hypnosis experience, she is now quickly able to peel back the layers of that small, insignificant event. A few quiet moments and she finds the reason would be that years ago, in her early 20’s, Jane had a boyfriend who had a blue BMW. This boyfriend was not kind, leaving her with feelings of worthlessness, hurt and anger. That morning seeing a blue BMW allowed her subconscious mind to open that filing cabinet, choose that reaction and attached those negative, still intense, emotions to that new event; and it did so without her knowing in the least. Jane was able to quickly identify the unwarranted reaction and put into play a few tools in her ‘tool belt of life’.  Her day went on wonderfully.

Triggers are not all bad. They can put us in a good mood also. An expression that your grandmother had when she looked at you brings you right back to that feeling of her love. Think of your favorite food that was cooked as a child. Maybe it was the smell of chocolate chip cookies as you got home from school. Maybe it was the smell of a holiday meal cooking. Whatever it was, when you think about that food, you will find yourself smiling inside and most likely on the outside too. Instantly feeling comfort and safety just by the circumstances that the particular food was served. How about hearing the song that you had your first kiss or slow dance too. Bammm, you’re right back there smiling with the same excitement and stomach butterflies as if it were happening in that present moment. Imagine that, only because a song played on the radio!

Dynamic Living Magazine Issue Vol. 3  May/June 2011 continued on next page