Strategy: Identifying Emotional Triggers (with downloadable worksheet)
Being an administrator on a depression support group on Facebook with over eleven thousand members, I have started seeing some common traits amongst a large majority of depressed people. They would either:
1.Not know what emotion they are feeling or,
2.Not know what triggered the mood they are currently in.
Not only do some of the members experience confusion about why they feel the way they do, but they also feel even worse because of that. As they get more depressed, they get more confused, and it becomes a downward spiral. It becomes a lot more than having a friend or family member say, “Think positive”. Our emotions overwhelm us.
One may think that willpower alone will be the solution to overcoming the emotions of worthlessness, loneliness, anxiety, overwhelming thoughts, etc. However the truth is exactly the opposite. If you plan on using sheer willpower, and nothing else, the majority of the time you will lose. Avoiding/running from emotions will only make one more miserable, and will only make the emotions build up and tear the individual apart. What we do need is a key set of skills and strategies.
We first need to identify the emotion we are having. A lot of the time, it can be one main emotion, or other times we can be experiencing a cornucopia of emotions, adding to emotional mess. When can identify the emotion/s we are feeling, we are able to begin some of the healing process. (I have attached a link at the bottom of this article for a list of emotions as well as a work sheet we will use later on).
Next we need to know what caused that emotion. Was it a break up? Was it someone road-raging in a car that caused you to get angry? Or was it someone who said some hurtful things? Whatever the case, it is okay to feel how you feel for a period of time; but if it gets to be too long, that emotion will become a part of us; just like depressive disorder, anxiety dis-order etc., they usually have triggers.
After that ask yourself, “ Can I solve this problem?” Seriously though, a lot of our problems may just need time to blow over. Contrary, you may need to apologize to someone or even just get up and do something about it. I am not sure what the issue is that’s causing the emotion for you; but we need to ask ourselves if we can seriously do something about the problem at hand. If we cannot do something about the problem, then we may just need to accept it. If we can do something about it, let's fix it.
Next we will ask ourselves two things:
1. If the problem can be solved, what can I do about it?
2.If the problem cannot be solved easily, or is just time sensitive, how can I make things easier to cope?
If you do this exercise for a week, you will be amazed at how well you can begin to understand yourself. Being ignorant is not bliss; one just simply has to understand. Understanding yourself is the first step to growing; it is the first step to change, and it is the first step to getting out of the rut you may currently be in. Life is not always good, but I would like to congratulate you on taking the first steps to making it alright.
Click HERE to download the exercise that goes along with this article.
Please comment your experiences with the exercise below. We would love to hear from you!