Self-Mastery -Emotional Self-awareness II

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself” Abraham Maslow”

This post is the second part in the series – Self- Mastery

Click here to read the first part.

Self-awareness of your emotional triggers

Emotional triggers are people, words, opinions, situations, or environmental situations that provoke an intense and excessive emotional reaction within us. Common emotions that we experience while being triggered include anger, rage, sadness, and fear.

Virtually anything can trigger us, depending on our beliefs, values, and earlier life experiences such as a tone of voice, a type of person, a particular viewpoint, a single word – anything can be a trigger. Ask yourself what kinds of situations make you feel anxious.

We suffer from emotional triggers for three main reasons:

Opposing beliefs and values

When we are strongly identified with a certain belief, we may find it hard to be tolerant of other opposing beliefs. For example, there’s a reason why religion is such a triggering topic for so many people: beliefs give us a sense of safety and comfort, and when they are challenged, we feel (from an emotional and psychological standpoint) like our lives are being put in danger.
Values stem from beliefs and involve what we hold as important in life. When another person disagrees or challenges our values, we get triggered because they are calling into question the truth and legitimacy of what we hold dear.

Trauma – Getting “triggered” is a term that traces back to the experiences of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experienced by soldiers coming back from the war. When we are triggered due to past traumatic experiences, our reaction is often extreme fear and panic (or in some cases, anger). We get triggered when we see, hear, taste, touch, or smell something that reminds us of the previous traumatic circumstance.

For example, a rape victim might be triggered when she sees men with beards because her abuser also had a beard. A man who was assaulted by his alcoholic mother as a child might be triggered whenever he smells alcohol. An adult who never fit in as a child may feel triggered when seeing groups of people have fun.

Ego preservation – The ego is the sense of self or “I” we carry around. This artificial identity that we carry is composed of thoughts, memories, cultural values, assumptions, and belief structures that we have developed in order to fit into society (read more about the ego).
We all have an ego and its primary purpose is to protect us by developing elaborate “self-protection” mechanisms in the form of beliefs, ideals, desires, habits, and addictions (in order to prevent us from facing what we fear the most: the death of ego or self). When our egos are challenged or hurt by others, we are prone to becoming triggered – immediately.

We will argue, insult, belittle, defame, backstab, sabotage, assault, and even murder (in extreme circumstances) people who pose a threat to our ego’s survival. The only way to be liberated from our egos, to experience permanent ego death, is to do some deep inner work, or soul searching.

Taking emotional inventory

It’s often hard to put a name on what emotion you’re experiencing at any point in time. This is because it’s likely that your brain is processing more than one reaction at a time. Not only do feelings overlap and blend, but there are hundreds of emotions, each with many gradations of intensity, that make emotional awareness a difficult skill to master.

Yet, the more adept you are at discerning the force that is shaping your mood and directing your actions, the greater will be your ability to manage your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
As you come to comprehend your own emotions and behavior, you increase your understanding for what drives the actions of those around you. It is definitely important to recognize the varying types of emotion and to be absolutely sure of what emotions you feel when faced with different situations.

You can create your own emotional inventory by taking the following steps;
Three times a day for the next two weeks, set your watch or computer to remind you to notice:

1) what you are doing and who you are doing it with (working alone, talking with family, attending a meeting, driving, eating with a friend, watching a movie alone, etc.)?

2) the emotions you are feeling in the moment and why. Consider what is the source of the emotions. What do you think triggered the emotions you are feeling?

Here is a quick list of emotions and their broad sub-titles to help you with recognizing your emotions

Anger Fury Outrage Hatred Irritated Vengeful Cheated Envious Superior Defiant Offended Distrustful Cynical Impatient Testy Wound-up

Fear Resentful Exasperated Annoyed Belligerent Rebellious Resistant Contempt Repulsed Appalled Wary Concerned Apprehensive Nervous Dreading Worried Restless Frightened Threatened Afraid Anxious Edgy Stressed Overwhelmed Obsessed

Disheartened Confused Baffled Lost Lonely Isolated Sad Desperate Depressed Devastated Moody Serious Somber Shy Unloved Abandoned Tired Burned-Out Apathetic Exhausted Frustrated Grumpy Disoriented Disconnected Trapped Grieving Dejected Gloomy Helpless Weak Vulnerable Disappointed Hurt Defective Frail Complacent Weary

Humiliated Mortified Embarrassed Regretful Remorseful Reflective Ashamed Uncomfortable Guilty Sorrowful Detached Aloof

Surprise Shocked Startled Stunned Amazed Astonished Impressed

Impassioned Enthusiastic Excited Aroused Euphoric Thrilled Competitive Bold Eager Optimistic Delirious Passionate Crazed Willful Determined Confident Gratified Proud Gushy

Happy Joyful Blissful Amused Pleased Silly Dreamy Hopeful Intrigued Interested Delighted Triumphant Lucky Enchanted Appreciative Grateful Engrossed Alive Vivacious

Calm Contented Relieved Peaceful Comfortable Receptive Forgiving Relaxed Satisfied Reserved Accepting Loved Serene

Regard Adoration Admiration Reverent Respectful Friendly Sympathetic Loving Affectionate Secure Compassion Tenderness Generous


To close this

As mentioned earlier, self-awareness is one of the hallmarks of a great leader. It demonstrates the capacity to honestly evaluate your own actions beliefs and its impact on others. I believe that the first step to self-mastery is to take inventory of yourself using self-assessment tools as pointed out in this post and then reflect.

Next Up, we look at your Personal value system!

*This series of post is your guide to discover the leader in you.

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