Saturday, March 20, 2021

Emotional Triggers

Emotional triggers are when something happens and you have a big emotional response that is disproportionate to what is happening. 

~~ Watch the Video ~~


  • James 1:19-20
  • Genesis 4: 1-8
  • Hebrews 11:4
  • Matthew 18:23-35
  • Ephesians 4:26-27
  • Proverbs 15:18
  • Proverbs 4:23


  • Review
    • Seeking Wholeness
    • Controlling Your Emotions
  • What Are Emotional Triggers?
  • Cain and Abel
  • Unforgiveness
  • Own Your Emotions
  • Practical Solutions

How could something your boss says bother your co-worker but not bother you?  

Why would something that Trump says bother one person but doesn’t  bother another democrat?  

  • Biden / Republican

James 1:19-20

19You know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; 20for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.

Can someone make you mad?  


Seeking Wholeness

We are in our series called Seeking Wholeness

How can we be  _______ healthy

  • spiritually
  • emotionally
  • mentally

Dealing with life’s current stresses and also being healed from past experiences/wounds

We’re not just supposed to get eternal life

  • We’re supposed to have: joy, peace, patience and self control as well

Traits of Wholeness

  • Authenticity
  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Not seeking external approval / validation
  • Living by values and principles
  • Setting Boundaries
  • Taking ownership of your responsibilities
  • Living with purpose and passion
  • Optimism
  • Confidence
  • Healthy relationships with both genders
  • Not losing control of your emotions
  • Free from addictions
  • Addressing Conflict
  • Vulnerability
  • Not critical or Judgmental
  • Not jealous
  • Genuinely applaud the success of others
  • Forgive those who have wronged you in the past
  • Know that you’re worthy of receiving love
  • Not afraid to fail
  • Able to manage irrational fear, worry, and anxiety
  • Selfless encounters with others
  • Not manipulating others trying to control their actions/reactions
  • You care about how others feel
  • Patient
  • Don’t give into peer/social pressure
  • Can communicate directly

We want to not only to seek results, but also to value the processes of growing.

  • A big part of that process is understanding ourselves

Controlling Your Emotions Review

2 approaches to protecting ourselves from emotional hurt

  • Proactive Shielding
  • Reactive Shielding

Proactive shielding is the behavior or personality that you’ve adopted

  • control your environment to keep you safe
  • pleasing people
  • Your self identity

Reactive shielding is usually a response to experiencing negative emotions

  • unconcerned about the consequences
  • feel out of control

Proactive Shielding

It’s your approach to life

Some common proactive shielding behaviors include:  

  • Avoid conflict
  • Critic
  • taskmasters
  • approval seekers
  • Pessimist  
  • Caregiver  
  • Victim  
  • controlling
  • perfectionist
  • codependency
  • narcissism
  • people pleasing
  • avoiding risks
  • constantly striving to achieve
  • Emotionally disconnect


  • Being an Achiever
  • Being Antisocial
  • Staying Single
  • Player
  • Ignoring people

Proactive shielding is an attempt to manage how you're coming across to others

Tied to your self identity

  • “I'm a nice person,”
  • “I'm a hard worker,”
  • “I’m a good Christian”

Reactive Shielding

Reactive  shielding has the goal of keeping you from experiencing hurt

Reactive shielding doesn’t care if you look good or are approved of

  • reactive behavior only cares about distracting from the pain

without regard for the consequences

Anything that will distract them and make them feel better

Reactive Shielding Behaviors

socially acceptable

  • prescription drugs,
  • Overwork
  • overeat
  • Binge watch Netflix
  • shopping
  • dieting
  •  cigarettes,
  • sleeping
  • daydreams,
  • gambling,
  • exercise
  • thrill-seeking activities

less acceptable means

  •  illegal drugs
  • Alcohol
  •  suicidal thoughts
  • Anger
  • Acts of domination
  • self-mutilation
  • compulsive sexual activity
  • stealing

Reactivate behavior can be triggered by

  • Rejection
  • isolation
  • failure
  • traumatic memories

Reactivate behavior aims to eliminate or distract from the immediate

  • Bad feelings
  • thoughts
  • sensations and memories

The Goal of Wholeness

You are in control of your emotions and not the other way around.

You know which conversations are the most difficult but you still have them  

  • You know how to lead with emotion
  • not driven by fear
  • You don’t let the opinions of others cause you to make the wrong choices
  • You don’t blame others for how you feel

Things that used to trigger automatic responses in you lose their charge

you break patterns related to

  • intimate relationships
  • Work
  •  your body
  • Creativity
  • Addictions

You feel more integrated and solid, but with a wide range of emotion and expression.

When life becomes stormy, you sense the deep peace that lies beneath the waves you are riding. From that centered place, you can calm your behavior and the people around you.

Broke the bonds of

  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Rage
  • despair

You trust your emotions.

Example: Professor Hulk

What Are Emotional Triggers?

Emotional trigger is when something Happens and you have an emotional response that is disproportionate to what is happening

  • You blow up at a small thing
  • You overreact
  • Overthink
  • Overstressed
  • Over obsess

It’s usually because whatever happened hit a deeper wound or a deeper insecurity.

  • We are reacting to the past.
  • Something inside of us is feeling deeply threatened.
  • This is why we have the big reaction.

Our bodies have a physical reaction because we are feeling threatened

  • A lump in your throat
  • Tightening in the chest
  • The flipping feeling in your belly
  • Tingling in your armpit
  • A hotness in your head
  • Ringing in your ears

Triggered when you feel

  • Rejected
  • Abandoned
  • Belittled
  • Attacked

Cain and Abel

Genesis 4: 1-8

1 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD.”

2 Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground.

4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering;

5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

7 “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Why was Abel’s sacrifice accepted but not Cain’s?

Each offer in accordance with his occupation and pursuits


Hebrews 11:4

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he was attested to be righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

Why was Cain mad at Abel?

  • He was mad at God
  • He took it out on Abel

Sometimes our attitude towards someone is due to the fact that we haven’t healed from what someone else did to us

The Source of Our Triggers

It often begins in childhood

  • Your brain records every good and bad first time experience

Dog Story

father saves a child from a dog

  1. Yelling father
  2. Calm father
  3. Dog bites him
  4. Pets dog and licking him

What you feel what you felt the first time you experienced it

Your mind records how you felt during that first time experience

Movie Clip: Italian Job:  I had a bad experience

  • A traumatic post childhood experience

Story: Boy Who Was in the Way


Boy going to get some water

  • Stops to watch TV

Drunk dad

  • hits him in head
  • “Stupid”
  • “In the way”
  • “Worthless”

Physical Response

  • heart start to speed up
  • his breathing is heavy
  • He clenches his fist

He internalized how to feel when someone

  • raises their hand
  • sneaks up on from behind
  • He’s blocking someone’s view of the TV
  • blocking his view of the TV
  • calls him stupid
  • “ worthless”
  • “in the way“
  • looks like his father

These are now triggers for him


Turns in a report to boss

boss called it worthless

Same physical response

Who is John really angry at?

John believes that he is angry at his boss

  • If he hadn’t have put it on my desk
  • If he had not of said that I’m worthless
  • I wouldn’t have reacted this way

That is true, but the bigger truth is that even if his boss did do that he still shouldn’t have that big of a response


When John goes to explain to his wife what happened he says

  • He thinks I’m stupid
  • He thinks I’m in the way

His wife tells him he is in the way

  • He responds “don’t you ever tell me I’m in the way“
  • You think I’m stupid just like my boss
  • You think I’m worthless


He goes in the living room and one of the kids were playing in front of the TV

  • calls the other kid stupid

He slaps a little boy in the back of the head and tells him he’s worthless

Now we have familiar curse passed down to the next generation

  • Now he has programmed his son with the words stupid, worthless, and in the way

 Now John is upset because he swore he wouldn’t do it with his own kids


But who is John really angry at?

  • He wasn’t angry at the kids
  • He wasn’t angry at his wife
  • He wasn’t angry at his boss

He was angry at his dad

All unresolved issues that you have with your primary caregiver are going to be transferred to

  • Your spouse
  • Your boss
  • Your kids

Child was ignored by their parents

 then whenever they feel ignored by their spouse it is going to trigger the feelings they felt when their parents ignored them

Anytime you do something similar to the parent that ignore them they will feel with you what they felt towards the parent

Child was left alone for long periods of time

Whenever you start to leave there is an argument

  • Where are you going?
  • Why do you have to go?
  • You like spending time with everybody but me
  • Why don’t you have time for me?

Cheating Parent or First Boyfriend

  • It hurt the family bad
  • The painfully get experience gets recorded by the child
  • Now you have taken the place of the father who cheated
  • Now they are jealous every time you look at someone
  • Was the cashier at the store a female?

What Child Had to Say Wasn’t Important

  • Don’t bother me can’t you see I’m trying to cook dinner
  • I’m trying to watch the news

Mom and dad didn’t listen to them too much

  • They were made to feel that what they had to say was not important
  • Now they have grown up in their spouse has taken the place of their parent
  • When they feel that you think they what they have to say is an important all of their emotions from childhood come to the present and I transferred to you

With spouse

  • “ you don’t care about me“
  • “you don’t really love me“
  • “I’m not important to you“

They Shouldn’t Feel That Way

You are saying that they shouldn’t need that

  • That is true
  • But the bigger truth is that they do need it because they didn’t get it in their childhood
  • And you have taken the place of their mother or father who did not meet their needs

Summary: The Source of Triggers

The Source

We get triggered because of a bad experience

  • first time
  • Traumatic time

First time someone:

  • Someone embarrasses you
  • reject
  • Laughs at
  • Yelled at
  • violate your trust
  • Called you stupid
  • Ignores
  • Gives you the silent treatment
  • cheated
  • Makes fun
  • gives you a certain look
  • Talked down
  • Touched you inappropriately
  • Withdraws love

Physical Reaction

  • Heart beating fast
  • breathing is heavy
  • Clenched fist
  • Revert to the same mental age as when it happens

The Triggering Experience

You’re triggered when someone

  • embarrasses you
  • reject you
  • Laughs at you
  • Yelled at you
  • You make the same facial expression
  • Same hand gesture
  • Same tone of voice


Yes you are mad at the person standing in front of you

  • More mad at the person who did it the first time
  • And you’re taking it out on the person who is in front of you

Emotional Triggers


  • Parable of the unforgiving servant

Matthew 18:23-35

23Because of this, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlements, a debtor was brought to him owing ten thousand talents.f 25Since the man was unable to pay, the master ordered that he be sold to pay his debt, along with his wife and children and everything he owned.

26Then the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Have patience with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’

27His master had compassion on him, forgave his debt, and released him.

28But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.g He grabbed him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe me!’

29So his fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you back.’

30But he refused. Instead, he went and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay his debt.

31When his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and recounted all of this to their master.

32Then the master summoned him and declared, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave all your debt because you begged me. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had on you?’ 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should repay all that he owed.

35That is how My heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

  • Did the king forgive?
  • Did the king forget?

Forgiveness Cancels the Debt

Forgiveness cancels the debt that they owe you

  • You give up your right for revenge

They no longer owe you

  • An apology
  • A confession
  • An explanation

As long as you are demanding something that they choose not to give it ties you to the person

Emotional Torture

A parable uses earthly symbols to reveal spiritual things

  • God = the king
  • jail = the memory of what the person did
  • the emotions = the torture

You feel the hurt when

  • you think about the person
  • someone sounds like the person
  • someone walks like them
  • Someone acts like him
  • You smell their cologne

This is the consequence of not forgiving

Be Angry But Do Not Sin

Ephesians 4:26-27

26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

27and do not give the devil a foothold.

Anger is not a sin

  • Wrath of God
  • God got angry

It is clear from this verse that being angry is not a sin.  

  • But it is your reaction that can be
  • You can have righteous anger.

Anger could cause you to

  • Curse them out
  • Hit them
  • Murder

Unforgiveness is a sin

Do Not Let the Sun Go Down On Your Anger

  • Not Reconciliation

I always thought this meant that you had to reconcile with the other person before nightfall.

  • Perhaps meaning the couples should make up before they go to sleep.

But what I now see is that this verse doesn’t talk about reconciliation it only talks about anger.

You have to forgive at some point.

Your anger, no matter how righteous it is, turns into sin if you have it too long. It turns into unforgiveness.

Be angry, but there’s a time limit, in which your anger...becomes sin

Be Angry But Do Not Sin

Own Your Emotions

Proverbs 15:18

18A hot-tempered person stirs up strife,

But the slow to anger calms a dispute.

Did you ever know someone who always seemed to push your buttons?

  • What about someone who did it intentionally?

They knew how to push your buttons.

  • But you may not know what that button is.

What triggers people?

  • Cutting someone off in traffic
  • Getting name wrong
  • Arrogant people
  • Stupid people
  • Fake people
  • Show offs
  • Being misunderstood
  • Being talked down to
  • Being disrespected

Take Responsibility for Your Reaction

You have to take responsibility for your life.

  • You control whether or not you react.
  • Don’t make your wound their responsibility.

It is great to know what in your childhood caused the trigger, but the main goal is to determine what triggers you.  

  • Where is that wound ?

Be mindful of what certain people in your life can say or do that will trigger you.  

What is it that made you

  • Feel defensive
  • Feel angry
  • Stirred up all of that negative emotion

How Did it Make You Feel?

Ask yourself when he or she does this how do I feel?

  • I feel abandoned
  • I feel like they don’t care about me
  • They are selfish and it’s all about them
  • They are always blaming me for things

Whatever comes to the surface… Don’t try to suppress it.

In order to guard something you have to own it. You have to own your emotions.

Stop saying things like ... “he made me mad“.

Don’t give your power away to someone else

If your attitude is a byproduct of your circumstance, your emotions will always be out of control

The Story You Tell Yourself

You are making the story the whole basis of the relationship with that person.

“He doesn’t care about me“

“She doesn’t appreciate everything I do”

In reality your wound is being triggered because of that one instance. You won’t believe how much that one sentence affects how do you now confront the person and how you feel regarding the situation

When Addressing the Issue

Changing the story to a positive possibility allows you to confront the person in a caring and loving way.  

  • It helps you to realize that a lot of time when things happen, it has nothing to do with you.
  • We take things so personally in relationships as a reflection on our own self-worth and how someone views us or loves us.

Changing your view allows the other person to tell their side of the story without you getting emotionally charged up.

Practical Steps

Ask yourself

How would I be experiencing this if I wasn’t adding any meaning?

Look for a Pattern

If there is a pattern with someone then you need to set boundaries and enforce them.

Triggering reveals something about you

  1. Areas of your emotions that need healing.
  2. What you have pride in
  3. What your ego is tied to
  4. what you are seeking validation from

Your Sunglasses

Have you ever met anyone and they automatically had a negative opinion of you?

Proverbs 4:23

23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,

For from it flow the springs of life.

Guard Your sunglasses because out of your sunglasses you see life. If your sunglasses are cracked it distorts your vision. If they are smudged you don’t see clearly.  

My glasses are cracked so I see you as a bad person even though you were not.

My heart is wounded so I see you as a bad person but you’re not.  

Practical Solutions


Stop And take a breath deep

  • The emotional brain is taking over and you are losing access to the rational brain
  • This breaks the fight or flight response of our brain
  • This helps us to be rational
  • This helps you feel more calm

Tune in to what you are feeling

What are you feeling?

  • Abandoned
  • Controlled
  • Manipulated
  • Disrespected  

Observe what you were thinking

What about what happened makes you feel threatened?

What did I interpret this to mean?

  • I’m not good enough
  • This person doesn’t love me
  • I’m not worthy enough
  • I’m failing
  • No one is ever going to stick around
  • I don’t have what it takes

What were you interpreting this to mean about you, or about life, or about God?

Reframe what you are thinking

Did you feel like you were being controlled or manipulated?

  • Why were you thinking that?

Could it be something else?

Remind yourself that you have the ability to say no.

This is not a real threat.

Move into self compassion

Don’t put yourself down

Don’t start the negative self talk

Spiritual Steps

  • Ask God how you should feel about this.
  • Find a scripture pertaining to this situation
  • Is this tied to a stronghold?

Teacher: Michael Leadon


Anger and emotional triggers (part 1 & 2)

Gene Wagstaff

Trauma is the Gateway

Stephen Darby

How to Handle Intense Emotions | Stop Getting Triggered

Julia Christina counseling

7 Angry Men

The key to controlling your emotions

Steven Furtick

Gaining control over your emotions

Creflo Dollar


Proverbs 4:23

23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,

For from it flow the springs of life.

Matthew 15:11

11 “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

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