Question. Do you know what your triggers are? Before getting into that, do you know what a trigger is? I'm not trying to patronize you. I get that you understand what the basic concept of one is (something that is prone to irritate you at best, make you pop off at worst). What I mean is do you know where triggers stem from?
If you were to ask a psychologist to break it down for you, they'd probably tell that a trigger is something that is tied to past trauma. When you see, smell, or experience something in real time, it can lead to feelings like sadness, anxiety, or even anger because, whether consciously or subconsciously, it causes you to have flashbacks to when something or one, hurt or offended you.
For the past several months, something that I've been intentional about is deactivating my triggers. And you know what? It has been a total game-changer! Now that I'm able to pinpoint certain actions that totally piss me off (gaslighting, passive aggressiveness, and deflecting are some of my biggest triggers), not only has it helped me to be so much calmer in my day-to-day life, it's also helped me to know how to better handle people in both my personal and professional life. Because once you know where your triggers stem from and you recognize what certain common triggers are, you can stop giving your power away by reacting—or worse, overreacting—to things.
And just how do you train yourself to emotionally detonate certain triggers in your life? The first step is becoming aware of what certain triggers are (such as the list of really popular ones below). The next move is to heal the trauma (i.e., backstory) associated with your triggers. Finally, set firm boundaries with the people in your life who try to trigger—retraumatize—you. Even if that means leaving them completely alone.
What are some of the most common relationship triggers around? Let's name some:
7 Common Emotional Triggers In Relationships
Just about all of us have had someone in our world who was so manipulative that we couldn't help but ask ourselves, "Wait a minute. Am I the one who is crazy here?" They are called gaslighters and they would have it no other way. Their objective is to get you to question your own sanity as it relates to them, even if you have proof and facts to back up your perspective on just how toxic they actually are.
How gaslighters do this is by lying and/or telling you that they didn't say something that you know that they did and/or saying one thing and doing something else (in other words, their words and actions don't add up) and/or insulting you and then complimenting you (they build you up to tear you down) and/or accusing you of things that you know you didn't do.
Basically, they make it their mission to keep you in a state of confusion and uneasiness so that you appear emotionally unstable. The more you question yourself, the more they can take advantage of you. Therein lies their power.
Whew, chile. The love language of a true narcissist is love bombing. At first, they pour it on thick—compliments, gifts, dates, anything that will make you feel totally adored. Although it would be nice if they did that simply because you deserve it (and you do), their ultimate objective is to get you to feel like you need them as a source of love and affection. Then, once your guard is down, the puppet strings begin to come out.
Once you start to show signs of interest in anything or one more than them, they stop complimenting you and start berating you. Now you're the one who is selfish and not worthy of all of the love they are offering, so they pull away, hoping you will feel abandoned and alone.
What the heck does a narcissist (or any other kind of love bomber) get out of doing this? It's a form of "training" you. When you act the way they want you to act, you get rewarded. When you don't, you get criticized; perhaps even ghosted. Ugh. Just ugh.
The silent treatment. Making excuses. Having a selective memory. Making you feel guilty for what they know is their fault. Not keeping their word. Stubbornness. Making simple things complicated. Playing the victim (when they are actually "the offender"). Living by the phrase "hurt people hurt people". These are all telltale signs of a passive aggressive individual. I personally don't know if I detest any trigger more.
A passive aggressive person doesn't like accountability nor do they want to accept responsibility for their own actions. Just recently, I confronted someone about something they did that was dead wrong. Their response was how much stress they were under at the time. We all have things to feel stressed about. It doesn't take away from us needing to follow through on what we said we would do (and at the very least, apologize when we don't).
If you've got folks in your life where you find yourself apologizing for what they did wrong (it happens more than you think), you've got a passive aggressive individual on your hands. No doubt about it.
A healthy relationship—whether it's a romantic, platonic, or even a professional one—is going to celebrate the authenticity of who you are. They are not going to try and change you or get you to question your self-worth and value.
That said, if you're involved with anyone who doesn't make you feel very good about yourself (this includes them avoiding slick statements and backhanded compliments), if they create "rules" for how you are to be in your relationship with them (although you don't get to have any expectations from them at all) and/or if you somehow feel micromanaged all of the time—these are all indications that you are a victim of perspecticide.
It's not that what you are or aren't doing is wrong. It's that you've allowed someone to have so much power over your life that their perspective of you trumps your very own. (Scary, isn't?)
One of my all-time favorite quotes is, "We're all looking for someone whose demons play well with our own." Creepy I know, but basically, it means that sometimes we're in toxic relationships and don't even know it. It's because what we have in common with certain individuals is our weaknesses, not our strengths.
Although this isn't the exact definition of trauma bonding, I personally believe it is a cryptic form of it. So, make sure that you're not connecting with someone simply because you can relate to one another's crap. If that's all you have going on, all you're doing is—as my mother puts it—emotionally throwing-up on each other. And making each other sick in the process.
As far as the clinical definition of trauma bonding, it's when you're caught up in the cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discarding with someone. They build you up, then they make you question your value, and then they discard you like you were nothing without rhyme, reason, or warning. But since the good times were so good, you sometimes let them do this to you on multiple occasions before finally breaking things off.
Why would someone put up with trauma bonding? Because they don't realize that's what's happening to them. But if someone in your life is always making promises they don't keep, if they give you the silent treatment when you displease them, if your friends are constantly telling you that you could do better than the foolishness you're tolerating with an individual and/or if you keep saying you know that you should leave BUT YOU DON'T—these are all signs that point to being in a trauma bond.
The bad times outweigh the good, but you stick around for the next cycle of good times anyway. That is trauma bonding at its finest. And ugliest.
A dismissive person is a disrespectful individual—point blank and period. If I were to think of someone who immediately falls into this category, ghosters would have to be one of them. Other examples include people who don't deal with confrontation well, folks who don't like to express emotion, individuals who choose to multi-task while you are trying to have a serious conversation with them, people who are vague when you ask direct questions—oh and commitment-phobes. Some trigger statements that dismissive people tend to make is "Are you still on that?", "When are you gonna get over it?" or "Just move on."
Personally, I think the most frustrating thing about dismissive people is they treat you and your emotions like they are disposable. Or like you are a human ACT test. I say that because some of you might recall how some preppers told us to take it—Scan, Select, Discard, Move On.
You are not a high school proficiency exam. Don't tolerate anyone treating you as such.
Next to passive aggressiveness, deflecting is one of my other biggest triggers. I used to have a lot of deflectors in my personal space (I nipped that) and I see it quite a bit in marriage life coaching sessions too. It's basically when someone is wrong—dead wrong—but they try and find a way to get your mind off of it, oftentimes by changing the subject, pointing out that you do the same thing, or bringing up what they think is worse.
Example. You might say, "I really hate that you waste my time by always showing up late." A non-deflector would say something like, "I'm sorry. I'll work to get better at that." A deflector? They're gonna say something immature like (cue the nah-nah-nah-nah-nah voice), "You're late sometimes too" or worse, "Well, I hate that you cut me off when I'm talking."
OK. But if you hated whatever it is that I'm doing so much, why are you waiting until I bring up something that irritates me in order to discuss it? A deflector doesn't want to deal with their stuff. And it's really hard to be in a healthy relationship with anyone who refuses to face things head on.
8.LWS: Last Word Syndrome
I used to be this girl and I realize it was because, while growing up, I didn't feel like my voice was heard or respected very much. So, as an adult, I made sure that it would be—no matter how annoying this approach might've been.
About 9.5 times out of 10, a person who suffers from last word syndrome isn't even one-eighth as interested in what you have to say as what they've already said or what they plan on saying next. It's feeling like your insights and perspectives aren't respected or even appreciated that tends to be the source of your frustration while interacting with them. I get it but take it from someone who has gotten fully free from this—people who need to have the last word are insecure; they are still working through how to embrace the internal power that they have, both with and without a sounding board.
One of my favorite proverbs is, "Don't speak unless you can improve upon the silence." It's one of the best ways to handle someone with this particular syndrome. And once you call out all of these triggers—and trigger-ers—it's also one of the best ways to internally detonate how you react in the future to these kinds of people too.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Self-employment is something many people prefer or aspire to, as being your own boss is both admirable and empowering. And women are bossing up more than ever, representing almost 40% of all self-employed professionals. Being self-employed myself, I can attest to the benefits, but like everything in life, there are two dueling sides to every coin. And if you're considering taking the leap from 9-to-5er to self-employed, there's a lot to consider before totally pulling the plug on your day job.
Here are a few things to know, from my own experience, before transitioning into self-employment:
1. Recognize that self-employment is not entrepreneurship.
There are key differences between being an entrepreneur and being self-employed that many people get all mixed up and confused about. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they are definitely not the same.
A self-employed person operates just like an employee, often offering services and talents to business owners, nonprofits, or organizations. An entrepreneur typically offers goods and services to a client or customer, registers their business for tax purposes, and can reap the benefits of resources like business bank accounts, financing, and investments.
When you're self-employed, you often don't get paid if you don't work, most typically as a freelancer or on a project-by-project or client-by-client basis. When you're an entrepreneur, you can successfully scale a business where you can reap the benefits whether you're actively working in it or not.
You can indeed launch a one-person business (i.e., as a limited liability company or LLC), but there are requirements related to that, particularly when it comes to taxes. There are also things to consider, such as lifestyle, goals, and risk tolerance. The annual and financial obligations entrepreneurs have aren't the same as self-employed professionals, like additional taxes, filing fees, and mandatory financial reports.
(I know some of y'all entrepreneurs might be reading this with a side-eye, but hey, not every self-employed person is a business person, and some simply might not want the extra maintenance and responsibilities of having a registered business, no matter the perks.)
While I'm not discouraging any self-employed person from launching a business, knowing the difference between the two is important because it sets the tone for how you approach the work that you do, your expectations on the lifestyle and requirements, and what benefits might be afforded to you.
Many entrepreneurs can employ people, scale their businesses for expansion, get capital investment, and even take days, weeks, or months off without having to actually work yet still reap the benefits. This is often not the case for a self-employed person whose salary largely depends on actual work hours, paid invoices, and strategic budgeting.
2. Inform yourself about the tax obligations and other financial shifts that might happen once you are self-employed.
When you're working a 9-to-5, your company handles taking taxes out of each check. This is not the case for self-employed folk. There's a quarterly schedule that must be followed for federal taxes, and there are other regulations based on the state where you primarily work (even if you're working remote). If you're used to having a hands-off approach to taxes (other than going to the tax preparer once a year), you definitely want to shift your expectations and get to know all the information you can about self-employment taxes.
Also, the way you budget might be a bit different when you're self-employed. If you find, for example, that you're constantly living check to check or that you're used to a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks, you'll need to shift the way you look at how money flows in your household.
Self-employment can include periods where you're not getting paid as consistently, and many companies work with invoices that are paid 30, 60, or even 90 days after you've finished the work you've done for them. Keep this in mind and plan accordingly based on the industry you'll be working within.
Talk to a tax or personal finance professional to find out about how your finances and tax obligation might change once you decide to become self-employed, and then set up a plan so that you won't get caught slipping come Tax Day. The process is different for self-employed people, and this is an important aspect of the process that will save you lots of money and stress in the long run.
I learned the hard way to negotiate, upfront, a set period of time for my services (when applicable and reasonable) to be written into a contract and to set my rates not solely based on my previous salary but considering additional costs like WIFI, travel, health insurance that I have to pay for out-of-pocket, home office technology and tools, and the time it actually takes to complete tasks. The pandemic brought home how super-important this was because, as a freelancer, someone can simply cut you with no compensation or warning.
3. Get to know your true strengths and weaknesses when it comes to work ethic, skills, environment, and motivation.
Self-employment is definitely not for the faint at heart. It can be a constant hustle in the beginning, and if you're not careful, you might end up wondering how you'll pay your rent or car note simply because you don't have clients or work lined up. It's good to be a self-starter and super-organized. It's also good to brush up on your marketing, communications, and sales skills because you'll need to pitch yourself and your background in order to land projects and clients.
While working your full-time job, take a few courses or find a self-employed mentor so that you can strengthen your skills in areas where you might need some improvement (i.e., pitching, online marketing, social media branding, or project management.) Practice self-employment on the side as an intern or with a side hustle so you can learn a bit more about yourself that you might be overlooking while serving as an employee.
Being self-employed means you become multiple departments in one person. For example, your current company provides support like assistants, accounting departments, legal teams, and IT, so you might not be used to having to handle all of those things on your own. For some, this can be overwhelming, while others find the challenge invigorating and worth the sacrifice if it means having autonomy and financial and time freedom.
Also, if you're motivated to do your best by being around teams or working in an office, self-employment might be too isolating for you. True, there are groups and co-working cultures you can join, but it's definitely not the same as having built-in comradery of fellow full-timers at a company. Be aware of these things so that you're realistically making a choice that suits the life you want to live and the work experience you want to have in order to thrive.
4. Create an emergency fund solely for the transition.
While you're working a 9-to-5, create a separate savings account just for the transition. Anything can happen between quitting your job and getting your first freelance gig, client, or project. When I first stepped out to be self-employed, I thought I had the dream client, only to find out that it wasn't a good fit and I'd be looking for a new one after six months. This might happen several times before you really hit a groove, find your fit, build up your reputation, and get consistent work.
Having a financial cushion outside of your usual emergency fund helps to soften the blow if something like a client loss, a late invoice payment, or an unexpected work-related expense (i.e., computer replacement or broken equipment repair) comes up.
Sometimes, self-employment can include certain up-front costs like renting an office space, investing in new technology or other tools, travel expenses, or hiring other self-employed professionals (i.e., a consultant, web designer, or tax preparer), so you'll want to be smart, be prepared, and keep your receipts.
5. Understand your why.
Every great and sustainable journey starts with a good reason---a "why" that keeps a person going. If you know your why, you're less likely to just give up when things get rough, and you're less likely to make costly, mentally and physically draining mistakes. I decided to go for full-time self-employment because, after more than a decade working in my field, I really felt burned out at the time, began to resent not being promoted as quickly as I thought I should, and saw that I could make more money contracting my skills and talents out than working full-time for one company.
I also loved that I could pick and choose who I worked with and align my values with the projects that I was part of (versus being forced due to being a full-time employee beholden to a contract and the so-called values of a corporation or company.)
I've made quite a few mistakes over the years, but my why remains the same, and when times get hard, I simply remember the overall peace, flexibility, and autonomy I have in serving the women millennial audiences I want to serve through journalism and communications.
6. Be sure that you're offering services or expertise that can be used for years to come and that's competitive.
If you're considering self-employment, be sure your skills are competitive and have a future of need. I knew, even a decade ago, that much of the media industry was going the freelance route, and today, with layoffs becoming commonplace and full-time employee budgets being cut, contract work has become the name of the game. I saw this industry shift coming a mile away, and, like my early foray into digital media before publishing houses were monetizing it, I knew eventually, freelance work would be abundant and preferred.
If you're already doing a job that is in high demand or you offer something niche and one-of-a-kind, working for yourself might be the move. But if you've found that your current skills might be obsolete in the next two to five years, try learning another skill, shifting how you do the work you do, or tapping into another passion that can ensure you're offering something valuable in a market where it's direly needed.
Self-employment can be a joy and a pain, and for many of us, it's the only choice for self-care, mental wellness, and financial freedom. If you're considering taking the leap, take into account these tips and go forward in bold confidence, informed, and prepared.
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