We all have triggers. Someone says something. Someone does something. Something happens. And it feels like we’re immediately in a specific state of being. And because it feels automatic, we feel like we don’t have control over it.
That’s not actually how it works. It just feels that way. What really happens is someone says something, we have a thought, and then we feel a certain way. We don’t notice the thought because it’s in our autopilot system.
The autopilot system is amazing. Our brain puts as many things in there as possible. Thank goodness we don’t have to think about every breath we take or every muscle we need to move to go about our daily lives. Have you ever driven home and don’t actually remember driving there? Or perhaps gotten to the bottom of a bag of chips or a package of Oreos and wondered who ate them all? Autopilot.
When our brain sees something we repeat over and over, it moves it to autopilot. There are some things in our autopilot system that we’d rather not have in there. Just because it’s a trigger doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. You simply need to take it out of autopilot, rewire it, and give your brain a reason to put it back in the way you want it.
- Create awareness: figure out what thought is triggering your feelings and actions.
- Decide what you want to think on purpose. Make sure it’s something you believe and makes you feel the way you want to feel.
- Use your current trigger as a trigger for your new thought.
- Repeat until your brain moves your new thought into your autopilot system.
Let’s say your ex-husband used to come and fly into a rage if dinner wasn’t ready on the table. Your new husband is nothing like your ex, but one day he comes home and asks what’s for dinner. You immediately feel yourself getting smaller and pulling into yourself. It feels like an automatic response.
First, find the thought. It might be something like “it’s happening again” or “I’ll never be good enough.” Now, decide what you want to think on purpose. Maybe something like “My husband adores me” or “I am enough exactly as I am.” Next time you notice the original thought, or the feeling it creates, or the action you take when you feel that way…. practice thinking your new thought.
Practice it as many times as possible. Be very intentional about it. The more you practice using your trigger as a trigger for your new thought, the faster your brain will notice. And once your brain sees that you’re repeating something over and over, it will want to put it into your autopilot system.
And there you have it: “My husband adores me” is now on autopilot.
Your triggers are not permanent. And they are not out of your control. You have the power to change them if you want to.
What would you like to put into your autopilot system on purpose? Healthy eating? Regular exercise? Incredible self worth? Not yelling at your kids? Choosing your relationship over being right?
So. Many. Possibilities.