Mastering Your Triggers

Every one of us has tender places within our emotional make-up where we “lose it” when we are triggered.

An important part of our personal growth is to learn what issues trigger us, which coping behaviors kick in automatically, and how to transform the whole pattern so that it doesn’t alienate others, ruin our reputation, and hurt our health and well-being.

Harvey Goldberg, speaker for Vistage International, defined a trigger as “. . . a stimulus that sets off an immediate and mostly unconscious reaction. It is a focus that is based upon the interpretation of real or imagined danger and perceived or anticipated loss.”

In this article I will explain to you why we get triggered and mention some of the ways this shows up in your life and workplace. In subsequent articles in this series of Mastering Your Triggers, I will discuss the benefits and the downsides of the coping behaviors that we unthinkingly engage in to let off steam or avoid the issue (fight or flight), and finally, I will give you a multitude of ideas and suggestions on what to do to heal the problem at the source and change the automatic negative reactions that polarize others. When you substitute healthy updated beliefs and learn new behaviors, you can bring about the outcomes that you really want.

“Losing it” can show up in different ways, such as: making passive-aggressive remarks, withdrawing, hurling insults, yelling, swearing, throwing objects, saying cutting things to a subordinate (or family member), or engaging in debilitating addictions.

These are some of the typical ways of bleeding off mounting frustrations and relieving the internal pressure. But what is the cost to the people around you?

Your friends, loved ones, or co-workers can get hurt or mystified if you withdraw or go silent to avoid confrontation. They can, and usually do, get traumatized by yelling, swearing, and threats. If your behavior is unpredictable, people may get anxious and on edge because they don’t know what will happen next.

In the workplace, productivity is lowered because employees cannot do their best work when anxious or rattled in a chaotic workplace. Morale goes down, people think about leaving the company to look for new jobs, or they ask to work remotely.

Think about the cost that getting triggered repeatedly has on your self.

Consider these potential consequences to your health and well-being: debilitating guilt; anxiety and depression; high blood pressure; high cortisol levels that lead to insomnia, weight gain, (especially in the stomach area); loss of focus, loss of reputation; divorce; and shortened life span.

I’m sure you know THAT you get triggered from time to time. You might be aware that certain people upset you immensely and you can’t stand to be around them. But do you know what specific issues of yours you are sensitive about and what exactly is getting activated inside you? Most people don’t search inside themselves for answers, they just blame someone else and go out and do the same behaviors again.

Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself.
— Publilius Syrus

It is a worthwhile exercise to take time out to make a list of the things you get triggered about. After you write them down randomly, you may see a theme or two and then you can group the items on your list according to the themes. Keep adding to your list as you remember triggers. Email me and I’ll send you the worksheet for your list:

I’ll share with you some of my triggers to jog your brain about your own.

I hate it when people talk to me in insulting ways with statements like, “I already TOLD you that!” Or when someone says something devious and I question it or have a problem with it, and they say, “I never said that!” Or if I clearly saw the person engaging in unethical behavior and they say emphatically, “I didn’t DO that.” I guess you could say I have a problem with gaslighting. It reminds me of what Richard Pryor said when his wife caught him in bed with another woman: “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”

Speaking of another woman, the behavior that burned me the most in the past was when my man would lust after other women whenever we went out of the house together. (Of course he did this all the time whether I was with him or not.) It was a constant trigger to me, and needless to say, I won’t be tolerating this rude behavior again.

The issues that get triggered have to do with our emotional needs and our dearly held beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. Usually the person who triggers us is the person first in line and behind him/her there are one or more people who used to treat us in similar ways when we were growing up. It caused a wound then, and the current person is scratching that old sore.

In the next article, I will discuss the topic of beliefs and how our dearly held beliefs, and our attachment to them, set us up for getting triggered. I will be publishing a series of articles on Mastering Your Triggers for Success at Work. Ultimately I will compile these into a home study course with a workbook and videos.

Don’t forget to email me for the worksheet for getting to know your triggers and becoming aware of the themes:

Leadership Development is deeply personal. It involves working with the psyche
and the soul. True leadership springs from an elected state of being.
It requires a fundamental shift of mind and consciousness.
— Bob Anderson

Nina’s Bio

I coach CEOs and business professionals to transform the personal obstacles to peak productivity such as poor habits and behaviors—so you can have more energy, focus and time to do what you love.

I’ve been an executive coach for 8 years and a business and life coach for 20 years. I graduated from Corporate Coach University and have a degree in Human Resource Management from George Fox University.

I help with strategy planning, solving tough challenges, and guiding your inner work. I work in person locally and by video conference globally.

See some of my client testimonials: Email me to set up a complimentary Discovery Call:

Taking Time for Yourself

When was the last time you took time out for yourself to contemplate your life?

I’m not talking about an hour, or 18 holes of golf, or a family vacation.

I mean time alone. . . time to reflect on your life, your vision for your life, your decisions and the consequences of those choices. Time to face upcoming changes in your life. Time to re-evaluate; to reconnect with yourself and your soul; to rejuvenate body, mind and heart.

Maybe you are just too busy. (Need to delegate more?) Maybe you don’t consider taking time out a priority.

Think about it in simple financial terms. If you keep withdrawing from your life force energy account and don’t replenish your funds, you will go bankrupt. Do you think burn out happens just to other people?

I get a feeling inside me when I know I need to get out for a long hike in the wilderness. It’s a gentle nudge at first. If I don’t heed it, the nudge turns into feelings of frustration, depression, irritability. I get brusque with the people around me.

There was a period in my life when I was too busy raising three children alone, and I no longer heard this inner call —whoa, that scared me the most. I had to work to get back to the place where I could hear this inner guidance calling to me.

I recommend at least 5 hours alone and off all devices for quiet time in nature to reflect on your life. A personal retreat day at home can work but not if you will be distracted by your list of things to do around the property.

I love going out on a trail in the woods where there are few people. You probably have a place you like to go, or used to go when you gave yourself that precious time.

My favorite place is a inside the dormant volcano on Maui—Haleakala, House of the Sun. National Parks seem to be power spots, sacred places. I take a notebook with me and sometimes I have to stop every 100 yards to write important messages from Spirit. For many months while hiking in Haleakala, I got inundated with messages guiding me to lead retreats for people longing for connection to their own souls. I began to guide retreats for individuals and groups in breathtaking, inspiring places in nature.

There are particular times in one’s life when a personal retreat of a longer length is called for . . . times of transition or readjustment. Maybe you’re retiring. Maybe you are grieving the loss of a beloved spouse or family member. Maybe you are in a gap, a transition without an end in sight, and ready for a big change.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote an insightful retreat book titled A Gift From The Sea in 1955. She was the wife of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh. In their later years, the Lindberghs had a home in Hana, Maui, and Charles is buried there.

Anne took a week or two off every year away from her family and small children to have a precious time at a cabin on a deserted beach in Florida. She would journal, rest, and reflect on her life.

Ann wrote in her book, “But I want first of all. . .to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact—to borrow the language of the saints—to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible. . .By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony.”

It’s not enough to think you will take time out “someday.” Think about places you can go—a favorite trail in the mountains or a friend’s cabin on the beach. Get out your calendar and schedule it now.

A personal retreat can be life-changing. Give yourself that gift.

Your life will have more meaning and you will be a better boss, spouse, and parent.

Personal Retreats with Nina

I offer individual and team retreats of 1-3 days in beautiful places in nature in Hawai’i. Pick your island: O’ahu, Maui, or Lana’i.

First I schedule a time to listen to your needs, then we customize a retreat that can include solving tough issues, creating a 4 page written strategic plan, engaging in personal growth—or a combination of those. I will assess your fitness levels and take into account the activities and outings you most want to engage in.

Ideas are: snorkeling in wildlife reserve areas, kayaking with humpback whales, surfing small waves, walking on pristine beaches, hiking breathtaking trails that tourists rarely see, or visiting cultural sites like ancient Hawaiian temples.

I always leave spaces to rest and recuperate from your busy life with time to journal and reflect.

Included is a 75 minute follow-up coaching session to check on how you are implementing what you learned and how you are applying the new wisdom to your life and work.

For more information, contact me at
See my retreat web pages

Adding Video to Your Website is COMPELLING!!

Do you have a video of you on your website describing your products or services? It’s the most powerful way for people to get an experience of you. . . to see if they are drawn to work with you or buy from you.

Make sure the video represents you authentically. To make it professional, run through your talk a couple of times; practice!

Here is my latest video with client testimonials –under 5 minutes, made by professional marketing videographer Sam Small on Maui.

Do it on a day you feel good and inspired! People out in the world want to know how to be happier, healthier, and how to find more meaning in life. A video can convey your aliveness and your abilities.

Most people don’t really care about your degrees and your titles, they want to know IF YOU CAN HELP THEM. They want to know if your services or your products are going to bring them happiness or take away their pain and problems. Focus on telling them in your video about the results they will get —the benefits and outcomes of buying what you are selling.

You have about 10 seconds max to GRAB someone when they come to your website. People’s attention span these days is very short, and they get bored easily, so you need to be animated and enthusiastic. Place the video on the top half of the page “above the fold” so it is highly visible. The best length of a website video is about two minutes.

My favorite video teacher is best selling author, Brendon Burchard. He has the most relaxed confidence of anyone I’ve seen—and I just can’t stop smiling at his wonderful enthusiastic, authentic style. This is a 30 minute video, so just watch it for a while until you GET his energized style for your own video!

One of the most powerful videos on YouTube these days is the 18 minute TED talk by Simon Sinek. Here is the link for the 6 minute version of How Great Leaders Inspire Action to get YOU inspired and on the right track to make your video compelling.

And lastly, here is a short video called Dollar Shave Club. Mike, the man in the video, has a razor blade mail order business. 12 million people have watched this video—and his sales went through the roof! All with a one minute video: