Updated: Nov 17, 2022
I could feel the blood rushing to my head and adrenaline coursing through my body in the meeting...
I was in a middle management leadership role in a not-for-profit.
I was passionate about our mission and I was surrounded by amazing leaders.
One day I was in a meeting that was about some of the most important things we did.
Unfortunately, I walked into the meeting straight out of a series of other events that had me on edge.
One of the other leaders in the meeting innocently looked to me as we discussed our action plan and asked, "Jonno, can you look after this part?"
I snapped back, "No, I can't."
It was way more forceful than I'd intended.
I felt so bad that I asked to step out of the meeting.
What had happened?
I didn't realise at the time, but now I know I was triggered in that moment.
It was part of my journey to learning about overwhelm and anxiety and it's been a life-changer for me to have breakthroughs in this area!
So, how do YOU know when you're triggered? And how can you avoid those moments like I had in the meeting where you lose control and act in an unprofessional and unhelpful way?
1. It's physical.
When you're triggered it's not just emotional and mental. Your body reacts and there are physiological signs such as sweating, feeling hot and increased heart-rate.
Instead of thinking, "I'm passionate," realise when you have these symptoms that you might be triggered in this moment.
2. Instantaneous meets 2 hours.
When you're triggered, it can happen almost instantaneously or at least in less than a couple of minutes.
Your body is reacting in the same way it would if a real life lion was sitting next to you and growled all of a sudden.
That shouldn't be underestimated.
What most people don't realise is physiologically it can take up to 2 hours for your body to return to how it was before you were triggered.
That's a long time! Give yourself space to come down from feeling triggered before you attempt any important tasks, conversations, emails, meetings or other interpersonal activities (this can't always be achieved but is definitely best practice).
3. Grow grow grow
As you mature, realise growing in understanding of what it means to be triggered and how to act and react puts you in the minority. Most people simply won't do this work because it's easier to ignore it.
You're committed to growth though, aren't you?
So don't be disappointed and discouraged when you stuff up and say something you regret. Instead, learn from it and look back and say, "What did I do and how could I act differently next time?"
I promise you, as you grow in this area you're setting yourself up to become a leader people will love to follow and to leave the sort of legacy most people only dream of.