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What is a Trigger in Anger Management?

Sometimes in anger management classes or therapy, we use certain words to describe certain things. One of those words is “trigger”. What is a trigger as it relates to anger management? And what are some ways to identify a trigger?

What is a trigger?

A trigger is an event, situation, thought, or even a person that causes us to feel angry or frustrated. Just like people have many likes and dislikes, triggers are not the same for every person. Some people may be upset by things that others are not. A trigger can also be external, meaning something that happens outside of you (such as getting honked at in traffic), or internal, meaning something that happens inside you (like when you remember how much you hated your 3rd grade teacher).

Why are triggers important in anger management?

Triggers lead to an emotional response, and sometimes the responses are harmful toward that person or people around them. Understanding and managing these triggers is a key part of any anger management program. Once you understand what your triggers are, you can begin to practice self-awareness and emotional regulation to break behaviors and patterns that these triggers would otherwise cause.

How to identify a trigger?

As with learning any new technique, identifying your triggers is an on-going process. Things you can do to help recognize your triggers can be reflecting on past episodes of anger outbursts, keeping a journal, or even something as simple as recognizing physical cues for when you’re about to become angry. It is also beneficial to work with a group or counselor who can help point out behaviors as well.

Remember that no two people experience triggers the same, so try not to compare yourself to anyone else. Help recognize your triggers by practicing self-awareness or even writing things down. And as always, reach out for help. You don’t have to do these things alone.

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