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Overcome Your Triggers with the Five Minute Journal + A Simple Guide to Getting Over Triggers

Regain control of your life with The Five Minute Journal and manage triggers to feel empowered and accomplish your goals.

Have you ever felt stuck, like you're unable to overcome something in your life? Maybe it's an old habit that keeps getting triggered over and over again — waking up just before falling asleep, for example — or something more chronic like social anxiety. The Five Minute Journal is a life changing tool with over a million copies sold, and today, I’m showing you how to use it to manage your triggers and be empowered!

The Background

I was always a very emotional person - easily moved to tears and I could be brought to tears by the smallest things. I didn't have much control over it, either; I could be minding my own business when suddenly someone would walk by and look at me in a way reminded me of any one who might have upset me in my past, and then BAM - I'm crying. I learned quickly that this wasn't a good thing. It made me highly emotional, and even more easily influenced by what I saw in my surroundings. For a really long time in life, I spent a lot of time avoiding being triggered - but there’s only so long and so much you can hide. That's why reframing my triggers through my Notice, Reflect, Reframe Method (I'll show you how to apply it in your own life in a minute!) is perfect for me.

How Did It Feel?

To be honest, it felt a little narcissistic. Was I so obsessed with my own thoughts? Was there something wrong with me? Why was I so weak? But, after understanding self-care, I wanted to get better at handling my triggers, and decided to just go for it!

It felt unnatural at first, and I needed a lot of reminders to 'notice'—to be aware of what was going on around me and take time to breathe. It took time, but then it became second nature. When I started noticing my triggers more often than not, they weren't as intense or overwhelming anymore.

Also, BONUS: It gave me a chance to explore products and solutions to see how I could use them to assist me in handling my triggers.


Out of 80 of my final entries, there were only 9 which were focused on triggers. 71 entries (fun fact: The Five Minute Journal lasts for a year if used on alternate days) were of days I had gone completely untriggered! Comparatively, out of 80 of my first entries, 53 were focused on triggers. THAT IS INSANE.

This is where it gets awesome …

How exactly did writing on my Five Minute Journal consistently help me cope with my triggers?

The first thing that really helped was just getting down the habit of noticing before allowing my emotions to escalate. I learned to be kinder and more patient with myself. Additionally, I made it a point to reflect, and then write on The Five Minute Journal on alternate days.

My next big breakthrough came when I started reflecting on how much time went by between each trigger event and how long they lasted—even if they weren’t bad or overwhelming enough to stop what I was doing at the time (like getting up to go to work or going back to bed). This gave me a better perspective on my progress.

Now it's time to apply it to YOU!

When was the last time you empowered yourself with patience and kindness Triggering is a normal part of life. If you're human and have been living on planet Earth, you've probably had your fair share of triggers.

  • Patience helps us to recognise that our triggers are not permanent. It also helps us avoid reacting hastily, which often makes things worse than if we had just waited for things to calm down

  • Kindness allows us to see the situation from another perspective: that of the person who triggered us, who just maybe, possibly, potentially is trying their best too (even though they may not be doing a great job). Kindness also allows us to resist taking things personally—because when you're triggered, there's often nothing personal about it.

So let's empower ourselves with patience and kindness so that we can overcome our triggers!

Notice, Reflect, Reframe Method

Notice, Reflect, Reframe is a method of self-reflection I developed that helped me recognise and challenge unhelpful thoughts. It will help you gain clarity when you're feeling stuck. It's an easy way to help get your mind unstuck, and can be used in any situation where you're feeling overwhelmed or confused by a problem.

The first step is to notice what's happening. 

Noticing is important because you will want to make sure you are aware of what your mind is saying so that you can explore that later during reflections, and work on reframing it later on in the process.

The first step is to notice what's happening: What are the facts? What is your body feeling? What are your thoughts and emotions. You might find yourself saying or thinking things like "I always get rejected," "I'm no good at this," or "This will never work." Noticing your emotions and naming them is essential, too.

When you notice a trigger, it can be helpful to think about what's happening in your brain and body at that moment. In fact, the more you can get into the habit of noticing your triggers, the easier it will be to change them.

If you find yourself feeling anxious or upset by something that happens, there are a few questions that might help you get to the source of those feelings:

  • What am I thinking about right now?

  • What does my body feel like? Do I feel hot or cold? Tense or relaxed? What's going on with my breathing?

  • What do I want right now? Do I want to make a change in my life, or do I need something else entirely?

Second, reflect on the thought itself. 

By reflecting on what makes you trigger, you can help yourself to feel better and be more prepared for future interactions.

When you notice the warning signs that someone is about to make you uncomfortable, it's like catching a fire before it starts: you can prevent further damage and even use the experience to grow as a person.

It's hard to know what triggers you, or even why. Sometimes, it's so subtle. It can be something as simple as a sight or sound, like seeing an old friend or hearing a certain song. Reflecting helps you figure these out. Reflecting can be in the form of making time to think out loud, and preferably, writing in down.

  • Write down what happened before and after the situation. You might be able to see some patterns in how things unfolded.

  • Ask yourself: how did it make me feel? What was going through my head? What did I do? What did I want to do?

Reframing is about taking a negative thought and turning it into a positive one

Reframing is hard because it's hard for us as humans to think in abstract terms. We can't just change our perspective on a problem—we have to change our perspective on the world itself. We have beliefs about what reality is supposed to look like, which makes us resistant to changing those beliefs. So when reframing, we need to challenge ourselves and question these beliefs before we can make any progress toward solving the problem at hand.

In order to reframe something, we have to be able to identify the frame in which we originally viewed it—and then change our minds about how that frame works. For example: if you were looking at a picture of a flower through a magnifying glass, what would happen if you took the magnifying glass away? You'd no longer be able to see the flower in detail (or maybe even at all), but instead you'd be able to see what was outside of its tiny frame. You'd also see how much space there was around the flower—even though you couldn't see that space earlier!

Reframing is similar: when we reframe something, we're removing its original frame and replacing it with a new one.

    Why The 5 Minute Journal is the perfect solution to reframing your triggers

    You now know that 'reframing' is all about the way you think - how you can train your brain to think differently, and view things from a positive angle. That's what The Five Minute Journal is all about!

    How to use The 5 Minute Journal to overcome your triggers

    I am grateful for...

    If you have a habit of getting triggered, then it's likely because something in your past has caused you to feel a specific way when certain situations arise. For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic and you end up slamming on your brakes and yelling out loud, it's likely because this is an expression of rage from a past experience where someone cut you off and caused an accident.  

    When reflecting on your triggers, try understand what kinds of things, people, or experiences make you feel more grateful—and once you've pinpointed that, - write them down here! By consistently doing so, this act will help keep those triggers from popping up as often!

    What would make today great?

    When someone says something that triggers me, I want to react in a way that is respectful and kind. I want to be able to gently let them know that their words are hurtful without making it seem like they're at fault.  I also want to communicate my own feelings about the situation so they know how it affected me. But in the past, I tended to be overwhelmed and reacted in ways that weren't helpful.  

    This section helped me to change my reaction so that it actually helps rather than hinders the situation. I consistently wrote down how each day could have been better had I reacted in a healthier manner. 

    Daily affirmations. I am...

    Affirmations are positive statements about yourself that you write down and read over and over again. When dealing with triggers, affirmations help focus on what you want to be true about yourself instead of what other people might be saying about you or what you might be feeling in that moment.  

    Affirmations are ideal for healing from triggers as well. They keep your mind focused on what's important, like how far you've come or how much progress you've made in the past week or month, instead of just focusing on how long it's taking or how hard it is to get better.

    There you have it, folks. It's not magic—it doesn't take away all of your problems or make you feel super-positive all day long—but it does help you put things into perspective so that you can put your energy towards the things that really matter. You can use the Five Minute Journal to gain awareness about what's causing your triggers. By taking responsibility for the way you feel and learning new coping mechanisms, you'll be able to gain more control over your life! The results will follow, I promise.

    by Ann Thomas [ LinkedIn / Instagram]

    Ann's background in early childhood and psychology lends itself to a
    compassionate approach to mental health, which she believes
    is a fundamental part of human development.