25 Oct 2023
Excitement and fear can indeed share similarities in how they feel physically and emotionally, because of this I have shared this technique with clients to assist them with reframing emotions, so they can interpret them differently. This phenomenon is often referred to as "emotional overlap."
The overlap between feelings like excitement and fear in terms of physical sensations provides an opportunity to reframe our interpretation of these emotions.
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The Power of Turning Emotions into Positive Action
Internal triggers, those inner feelings and thoughts that often lead us down unproductive paths, can be a significant obstacle when it comes to building positive habits and staying on track with our goals.
Nir Eyal, in his exploration of habit formation and behaviour design, discusses the concept of reframing internal triggers. He suggests people get triggered for a variety of reasons, with both external and internal stimuli that elicit strong emotional reactions or responses.
Understanding why people get triggered involves considering psychological, emotional, and social factors. Here are some common reasons:
Past Trauma: A significant trigger for many individuals is past traumatic experiences. Certain sights, sounds, smells, or situations can remind them of past traumas, causing emotional distress or flashbacks.
Stress and Overwhelm: High levels of stress or feeling overwhelmed can make people more susceptible to triggers. When someone is already emotionally taxed, even minor stressors can provoke strong reactions.
Unresolved Emotions: Such as anger, sadness, or fear, can lie dormant within a person. Triggers can bring these buried emotions to the surface, often in a disproportionate manner.
Belief Systems and Values: Triggers can also result from challenges to a person's deeply held beliefs, values, or principles. When something contradicts or threatens these core aspects of a person's identity, it can lead to a strong emotional response.
It's important to note that triggers are highly individualised, and what triggers one person may not affect another in the same way. Additionally, people can learn to identify them and develop coping strategies to manage their responses better. Therapy and self-awareness can be valuable tools.
What Does Reframing Internal Triggers Mean?
It is the process of consciously reinterpreting negative emotions or thoughts as motivation for positive actions. Instead of succumbing to feelings like stress, anxiety, or frustration, you learn to leverage them as catalysts for constructive behaviour.
Harnessing Negative Energy: By reframing, you can channel negative emotions into productive energy. For example, instead of letting anxiety paralyze you, you can use it as motivation to prepare thoroughly for a presentation.
Increased Resilience: This technique enhances your emotional resilience, enabling you to bounce back from setbacks and stay committed to your goals.
Enhanced Self-Awareness: Reframing encourages introspection and a deeper understanding of your emotional triggers, allowing you to address root causes.
While reframing internal triggers offers numerous advantages, shifting your mindset takes time and practice. There are several downsides, as initially, it might be challenging to reframe negative emotions. Also, reframing should not be used to dismiss valid concerns or feelings. It's about redirecting unproductive emotions into positive actions, not denying them.
Steps to Reframe Internal Triggers
Identify Your Internal Triggers: Start by recognising the emotions or thoughts that typically lead to unproductive behaviour. Are you anxious before a deadline? Do you procrastinate when you feel overwhelmed?
Pause and Reflect: When you encounter these triggers, pause for a moment. Acknowledge the feeling without judgment.
Reinterpret the Trigger: Ask yourself how this emotion can serve as a motivator. What positive action can it propel you towards? For instance, anxiety about a deadline can prompt you to break the task into smaller, manageable steps.
Take Constructive Action: Put your new perspective into action. Act on the positive motivation generated by the reframed trigger. It might mean diving into your work, seeking support, or practising self-care, depending on the situation.
Procrastination and Deadline Anxiety: Instead of succumbing to anxiety and procrastinating, reframe the anxiety as a reminder of the importance of the task and an opportunity to demonstrate your abilities. Rename it and call it excitement.
Healthy Lifestyle: When faced with the temptation to skip your workout, reframe the feeling of laziness as an opportunity to prioritize your health and well-being.
Financial Discipline: If you're tempted to overspend on something frivolous, reframe the desire as an opportunity to save money for a future goal, like a vacation or retirement.
In conclusion, reframing internal triggers is a powerful technique that can help you transform negative emotions into positive actions, fostering habit formation and personal growth. While it may take time and practice, the benefits of increased resilience, motivation, and self-awareness are well worth the effort.
Thank you for reading.
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