Do you know what flips your lid?
Let me ask you – Do you know what flips your lid? To me, it is perfectly normal to feel and accept all our emotions. But, I know something is not right when I start noticing my lid is flipped more often than it should have. There is either stressors or even past baggage that I have not let go. And so, it is important to pay attention to this pattern and understand the triggers behind it.
What’s the trigger?
Our emotions, positive or negative, are signals to prompt us towards positive action, take a stand or make changes. But, when you start noticing that certain emotions such as anger, anxiety, frustration seem to tick you off easily, it will be helpful to reflect on what the trigger is that has flipped your lid. For instance, do you find that your angry reaction is way out of proportion to the current moment? And, what you’re really angry about is not what you’re getting angry about?
Knowing the beliefs beneath the emotion
To illustrate, I was working with a 10 year old client who was referred to me for her anger management and violence in school. Interestingly, when I spoke with the parents, they have never witnessed her “anger” situation at home. I then found out the underlying trigger for her angry reactions is related to her strong belief for justice. There is one time a mischievous boy was teasing her friend and she felt unjust for her friend that she ended up twisting his arm!
So, to the child, unjust is what flips her lid. It does not matter if the unjust matter is towards her or people around her. When she sees, hear, feel injustice, she gets triggered and wants to stand up for it. And, there is nothing wrong with this!
Is the response in proportion to the event?
What is concerning is her response to the event and trigger. Clearly, the child did not understand how to cope with the emotions inside her. And, guess where she learns how to respond? Unfortunately, our children learns from our behaviors. In her world, she learns that when her father is angry, he would cane her and her siblings. She formed two beliefs from this repeated event. First, she is not to cry, as this would make her dad angry; and secondly, when her dad is angry, he would cane.
So, what’s the repercussions? This 10 year old fights as hard as she can not to show any tears. And, when there is a trigger of injustice, her brain reminds her that the way to cope with her anger is through violence. Can you see the pattern repeating?
Do you know all our experiences are coded?
Remember our brain codes all our experiences into memories and store them in our brain storage. So, when the next event occurring is similar to the prior coded one, it triggers the same emotions and suggested behaviors. And, when we keep practicing the same behavior, our brain connections for these experiences get stronger! Whether you are ten years old or fifty years old, it works the same way. In fact, we have many beliefs that were coded from our childhood experiences and stay with us (and become stronger) into adulthood.
Why is this important?
Are there times at home, at work or at an event where you had a trigger and gets angry and your reaction to it becomes way out of proportion to the event? Yes, it could be times with your spouse, partner, child, parents, siblings, boss, colleagues and others.
Do you look into your underlying beliefs and understand what exactly has flipped that lid? Do you also know what’s making you respond in the way you did? Hence, it is important to be aware of this pattern and then be aware to identify it when it happens. By being self-aware of your own emotions before your brain gets hijacked and react in a way you wish you did not is the first step to succeed in your own emotional self-regulation.
Try these quick exercises to help you become aware of your recent emotional state and the underlying beliefs.
With love & empowerment,