Learn Your Emotional Buttons and How to Lessen Their Impact


We all have emotional triggers. There are just situations and people that seem to set us off without warning. You might be enraged by someone that interrupts you, while someone else is bothered by clutter. We each have a unique set of emotional buttons. 

Our reaction is similar to a reflex. Someone presses the button and a negative emotional response springs into action. 

Disconnect your emotional buttons with these strategies: 

1. Observe yourself. You can learn a lot by observing yourself. You’re in a perfect position to notice your emotional buttons as they’re triggered. However, this is harder than you might think. We all think our emotional buttons are rational and reasonable, but that might not be the case. 

  • First, think back on all the times you’ve been very upset in the past. What triggered that reaction? What was said? What was the situation? Who was there? Do you see a pattern as you examine multiple situations? 
  • Pay attention to your emotional reactions over the next month. Notice when your emotions take a sharp turn. Determine the cause. 

2. Ask for help. It’s not easy to know yourself. The way you see yourself is very different from the way the rest of the world sees you. Ask a few friends to give their opinion regarding your emotional buttons. Ask family members for input. You might be surprised by the reactions you receive. 

3. Make a list of your emotional buttons. Make a list of all the triggers you’re able to identify. Write them out so you can actually see them. Keep adding to your list until you feel it is complete. 

  • Do you see a pattern? For example, you might despise people cutting you off in traffic, tardiness, and being interrupted. This would suggest that disrespect is what really triggers you. 

4. Identify how those emotional buttons are hurting you. Go through each emotional button and think about the harm it is causing you. It might be hurting your chances for a promotion at work. It could be damaging your relationships. 

  • Each one of your emotional buttons is harming you in some way, even if it’s just damaging your emotional comfort. 

5. Consider the cause. Why do these things trigger you? Your emotional buttons aren’t the same as someone else’s. Why do these particular things get such an emotional rise from you? Why does something bother you but mean little to someone else? 

6. Identify a more effective response. Go through your list of emotional buttons and think about the ideal response for each one. What would be the most appropriate or advantageous response on your part? 

7. Monitor yourself. Give your new and improved responses a try. When you notice yourself being triggered, be thoughtful enough to use your new response. See how it goes. It might take a while to learn to be present enough to remember your intention. 

8. Be patient. It’s very challenging to be thoughtful and logical during a time of high emotion. Your brain doesn’t function in the same way when it’s emotionally aroused. However, with sufficient practice, your new responses will become automatic. 

What are your emotional buttons? Have you ever noticed that your emotional buttons are different from other people you know? That means that emotional buttons aren’t universal. We form them ourselves based on our experiences and our unique perceptions of these experiences. 

Emotional buttons can be a big obstacle to moving your life forward, your career, and your relationships. They can even pose a big challenge to your emotional and physical health. 

Do your best to minimize the effect your emotional triggers have on your life and you’ll enjoy less stress and greater peace and serenity with your life and those around you. 

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