Madhu Einsiedler

How to To Override ‘Trigger-happy’ Habits – Part II

You know my motto: No right. No wrong. Simply growth. Interested in to find out how to override ‘trigger-happy’ habits? Ahead of you is a 7-minute read – part 2 of a two-step quick guide about habits – that will spark your growth, if you let it. 

In Part I  (read here) we learned the definition of ‘trigger-happy’ habits, how to recognize these habits and how to identify the triggers. 

Now we can look at strategies to re-gain the control. (or, with practice, not even ‘re-gaining’ but never losing it!)

  1. Take action; ask! Ask yourself, your partner, close friends, and family what kind of emotions and habits they observe in you, recurrently, which do not serve you.
  2. Make a list of these habits. Don’t be afraid to write them down. Seeing them on paper might bring more clarity, and this list can change over time. We are humans. We can train ourselves to lose some habits, and unwillingly gain new ones. It is a great idea to have a written list to look at from time to time.
  3. Document the emotions. This might sound serious and fancy, but is no different from the previous step. Write down the emotions that you experience before/during the habit. For example: fear, anger, maybe fear again, of your knowledge habit.
  4. Thoughts and reactions. Make a list of all the thoughts that occur during the loop. Any intense, full of negative energy thoughts such as, „How could they!“ „How ignorant!“ “I would never do that!” “So inconsiderate!” “People are … this … and that…”.
  5. Find the triggers that prompt this array of emotions and thoughts. As you practice these steps, try to remain aware, in the beginning you might feel anger and awareness of that anger at the same time. And also might recognize mentally what is upsetting you at a given moment.
  6. Get help to snap out of it. Ask your close circle of people to help you recognize when your habit(s) take over. Once you have a list of potential triggers, you can even ask close people to exert those triggers on you. (one of my triggers, for example, is being accused of some wrong doing – e.g.: Why are you late? Again!). This will help to bring your re-actions — thought pattern/emotional pattern — into your consciousness again.
  7. Last but not least – Mind the Gap!

The brief moment when you sense a habit kicking in, and thoughts triggering emotions or vice versa, creates a gap. A gap of consciousness. Use this gap! Use it to withdraw your attention from the habit, the emotion, the thought that’s about to take over and to focus it on something else – something very real in this very moment, such as your body and your breath. Instead of battling the habit, instead of engaging with the thoughts, instead of suppressing the emotions, rather focus your attention on the following: 

  • How you stand or sit
  • How your feet feel on the floor
  • How your legs are supported by the chair
  • Witnessing how your breath flows in and out
  • Your environment – count 5 things red you see; count 5 things you hear; count 5 things you feel on your body (not emotions!). Then go on count four things blue you see, 4 things your hear, 4 things you feel on your body … and so on down to 1.

Practice these ‘gap tips’ until you can feel how the pull from habitual thoughts and emotions lessens, until it vanishes and you can see and feel clearly and consciously again.

With these useful tools to neutralize automatisms, you are all set for a bumpy ride! – literally. 

Remember – other people do not hold the power to your inner peace. You do! And all it takes is practice. 

Safe gap-ing :)