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Personal Growth: Those Who Trigger Us Are Our Biggest Teachers

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Get to know how those who trigger us can be our best teachers for our personal growth. Powerful sharing by Leadership Coach Sally Anderson, a guest influencer for Leadership at Womenlines panel from New Zealand. Sally has privately coached key influencers internationally: CEO’s/executive teams/C-Suite forums/entrepreneurs/celebrities/politicians/millionaires/billionaires over 20 years.

Love today’s topic. Felt it was apt to speak into this today in light of what is happening in the world. Personal and professional relationships are being impacted now more than ever so to learn this skill would be highly recommended. What skill am I referring to? The ability to learn from those who trigger us as our biggest teachers, and knowing how to de trigger such that you are no longer impacted by external circumstance or people! The ability to remain equanimous at these times, ’hands-down is a priceless value proposition.

So what are we triggered by as humans? The Gottman Institute, a relationship based integrative research company in the USA framed the top 24 triggers as follows:- I felt excluded/I felt powerless/I felt unheard/I felt scolded/I felt judged/ I felt blamed/I felt disrespected/I felt lack of affection/I felt lonely/I felt ignored/I felt I couldn’t be honest/ I felt light the bad guy/gal/I felt forgotten/abandoned/I felt unsafe/I felt unloved/I felt it was unfair/I felt frustrated/I felt disconnected/I felt trapped/I felt lack of passion/I felt uncared for/I felt manipulated/I felt controlled

I would add:

I felt overlooked/I felt undermined/I felt criticised/I felt humiliated/I felt angry/I felt belittled/I felt the other party was being condescending/I felt taken for granted/I felt betrayed/I felt the other party was being insensitive/I felt overwhelmed/I felt disappointed/I felt misunderstood

Being triggered applies in our personal lives as much as in our professional lives for human beings are involved. I wish to provide 2 suggestions today:-

  1. The benefit of learning that those who trigger us are our biggest teachers – and have a story to demonstrate to provide context
  2. The top 10 additional benefits I would recommend when triggered

So here goes:-


I was based in the Netherland/Boston/New York back in 2001 on an offshore global restructure assignment and I had been away from New Zealand for over a year so when I returned to the company I contracted to there had been a new appointment heading up the Program/Project Directors/Managers – from the minute I returned we did not get on, he triggered me 1000% because I did not believe he had what it took to be in the role and his obvious condescending controlling attitude just landed like a cup of cold sick! SOOOOO, instead of enduring this tension in the office environment for more than I week, I called a meeting with him, to which he was surprised. But wait, it gets better….in the meeting I opened with acknowledging him for being one of my biggest teachers and explained why – I spoke into my observation of him, I spoke into genuinely saying that I had a lot to learn from him (his whole demeanour changed), I spoke into my desire to address any issues we had with each other, and requested that we work TOGETHER to make the business relationship work – needless to say, we became great friends and often reminded each other how when we first met we clashed like bulls at a gate. LEARNING: I know if I had not had this meeting it would have just escalated. By addressing it, applying a bit of reverse psychology we were able to find common ground. I indeed learnt a lot from him for it was my responsibility to take the learning and turn the situation around!

Top 10 Suggestions – What To Do When Triggered

  1. CHOICE – You have a choice on what you feel, the choice on how you react, the choice on what you do so choose your state wisely for the only person who looses when triggered is the one who is triggered
  2. KARMA – How you treat me if YOUR Karma, how I react is mine!
  3. COSTS – Get present to the costs of staying triggered, for if you were present to the costs you would move in a heartbeat
  4. PAYOFFS – The key to self-mastery if not about not being triggered its about the length of time you spend in the trigger, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a lifetime, some people go to their graves being triggered – stock standard human ontological payoffs of staying triggered are: You get to be right, you get to make others wrong, you get to be justified about your point of view, you don’t have to be responsible, you get to be a victim feeling powerless to change the situation, you get to dominate, manipulate and control
  5. LIGHTEN UP – Life is too short to have anything impact your state, get a sense of humour and move on
  6. DO THE WORK – Get the healing if your trauma wound/s are ruling your life. Get the coaching if you are not able to shift state. Get wellbeing support if it’s impacting your health
  7. COMPASSION – Judgment = Mastery of Compassion – 1 finger pointing out 3 fingers pointing back – have compassion for those who judge you for what must it be like in their quiet moments to project their dysfunction onto you? The more someone judges you the more you can learn the art of ‘Mastering Compassion’
  8. MEANING – ALL of the human sufferings is a function of what you make things mean, if you do not wish to suffer stop feeding past and future meaning-based projections, it’s just ludicrous, you are the only one being impacted
  9. CLEAN UP – Take responsibility for the part you play in all interactions, clean up, the self-interest is massive to ensure your own equilibrium stays in tacts
  10. COMMITMENT – If you are committed to living and leading an equanimous life get committed to not allowing anything externally to trigger you, mastering this is priceless

Tolerating a triggered state anything more than 10 minutes is not only not wise, its MAJOR self-sabotage. Stop operating as the child, be the adult and do what it takes to get complete and move on!

Leadership Coach to let go negative affirmations
Sally Anderson

Sally Anderson

Leadership Coach To The Influencers


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