Creating thought leadership and publishing your work may inspire you to follow your own good advice. Recently, I was on the verge of doing something rash and backing out of a project I have been working on for almost two years because I was seriously triggered.

We all get triggered from time to time, but when the stakes are high, we are more likely to overreact.

When I am triggered, I don’t make good decisions. I am pretty sure you don’t make good decisions either. In fact, getting triggered generally leads to bad decision-making for everyone.

One of the marks of maturity is not losing it when someone or something triggers you. But in order to check yourself before you wreck yourself, you need to know your specific triggers.

I have spent a lot of time supporting loved ones by going to 12-step meetings with them. One of the main things I remember about the experience is learning the acronym HALT. It is something I think everyone should know about and stands for: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

If you find you’re about to cry, or feel your blood pressure spiking and start seeing red, pull up and ask yourself if you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. You might be experiencing several of these states simultaneously.

That quick check-in can save you hours / days / years of cleanup work after a blowout or breakup.

Here’s what I know about me:

  • Being hungry makes me whiney and weepy
  • Being angry makes my face flush and blood pressure spike, and I may say terrible things
  • Being lonely triggers sadness, depressive thoughts, and listlessness
  • Being tired triggers frustration, tears, and shutdown

Even as you are watching yourself start to go off, you can sometimes stop skidding out before crashing into the wall by checking on whether you are experiencing any of the above.

If I am on a mission to show that I know more or have more power in a situation, I have been seriously triggered and I should walk away immediately. Not respecting me or questioning my authority / experience with certain things can have me reaching to unfriend you, wanting to get you fired, or firing you as a client.

In this case, I felt like my professional reputation – a reputation that I have built over 12 years – was on the line. But was it?

I am so proud of myself for not blowing up this relationship. I talked myself through HALT and realized I was really hungry and likely had low blood sugar, and I was definitely angry. I decided to breathe, exercise, have a big breakfast, and then decide how I would respond.

I thought about where there might be common ground. We both had the same goal for the project and I tried to focus on that.

Then, I thought about where I had to stand my ground, and where I could give in. I realized there was one big thing that was incredibly important to me, a few other things that were pretty important, and I was willing to let the rest go.

The difficult conversation went well and the project is moving forward because I didn’t immediately react and used HALT to stop me from doing something stupid.


Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash