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Trigger Warnings! Understanding What Flips the Switch on Your Attitude

Mar 11, 2024

We all have those moments – a careless comment, a familiar sight, or an unexpected sound – that send a flash of irritation, sadness, or even rage through our system. These are our "triggers," and they can flip the switch on our attitude faster than we can say "self-control." Understanding the origins and impacts of our triggers is an important step in our personal wellness journey. As Christians, we have a unique perspective on our emotions. Let's dive into what triggers are, why they hold such power, and how we can respond with wisdom and grace. 


Most people aren’t born with a dark cloud over their heads. In fact, negativity is often a learned behavior developed over time. The influences around us, our experiences, and our thoughts and beliefs all form our attitude. If your attitude has been consistently negative, it could be the result of triggers that set you into patterns of negativity.    

The term trigger warning is used in social media to help people avoid unplanned negative reactions to sensitive content. A trigger is something that can lead to distress if someone is caught off guard. Triggers can flip also flip your attitude from good too bad like a switch.    

Are You Aware of Your Triggers?    Self-awareness is key for managing your attitude. If you are unaware of what triggers your negative attitude, it can be extremely hard to keep it under control. Knowing what tends to flip your switch can help with managing your reactions or avoid triggering situations altogether.    

A great step towards giving your attitude an overhaul is learning what your triggers are. A few ways to become more self-aware include:   

Journaling- Journaling your thoughts and feelings helps uncover patterns in thinking that may be keeping your attitude stuck in negativity. Looking for cause and effect scenarios can help you identify what perpetuates your negative outlook or cause you to default to negativity when triggered.   

Ask someone- Asking a trusted friend or family member can help you identify situations where your switch is flipped without your awareness. Sometimes someone with an outsider’s perspective can lend insight into what you may be too close to the situation for you to see.     

Self-reflection- When you notice big feelings welling up, it’s a great time to reflect and consider what is happening that’s causing them. Try to connect the dots and see the correlation between the situation and your attitude.    

How to Manage Triggering Situations   Once you are aware of what triggers flip your switch, it’s easier to manage them. From avoiding triggering situations to planning to deal with triggers, there are a lot of things you can do to overcome triggers and lessen their effect.    

Protect yourself against triggers- To the extent possible, remove triggers from your life. If watching the news or doom scrolling causes anxiety, limit the content you absorb. If certain people cause you to feel insecure, angry, or poorly about yourself, limit your exposure to them.    

Deal with things- A bad attitude can be directly tied to avoiding uncomfortable situations. Not dealing with things can trigger fear, anxiety, dread, and depression. Tackle problems and do what you can to solve them so you can have closure.    

Have a plan- If you know you have specific triggers that directly affect your attitude, create a plan to manage them in the wild. Having a plan can help you act before it affects your attitude. For example, if driving has the potential to trigger your negative attitude, plan to manage your reactions if someone cuts you off.     

Acknowledge your limits- We all have a threshold for stress. Understand what your limits are and work with them. Remind yourself to be open-minded with opinionated people, remind yourself to rest when you are tired, remind yourself to step away when you feel anger or other intense emotions begin to stir.     

Overhauling your attitude is easier when you are self-aware enough to know what flips your switch and leads to negativity. Get a handle on your triggers and you’ll be better able to change your attitude. 

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