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Shadow Work: Why are We Triggered By Others?

Understanding the Emotional Reflection

Have you ever found yourself reacting strongly to something someone said or did, only to later wonder why you got so upset? We've all been there. It's a universal human experience to be triggered by others. But why does this happen? What's going on beneath the surface when someone else's words or actions push our emotional buttons?

In this blog post, we'll explore the fascinating world of emotional triggers, what causes them, and how we can use these triggers as opportunities for self-awareness and personal growth.

1. Our Mirroring Minds:

One of the key reasons we are triggered by others is the concept of mirroring. Our brains are wired to mimic the emotions and behaviors of those around us. This phenomenon is rooted in our evolutionary history. In tribal societies, mirroring helped with cooperation and social bonding.

When someone expresses strong emotions, positive or negative, our mirror neurons kick into action. These specialized brain cells make us feel what others are feeling. So when someone is angry, sad, or joyful, we can't help but feel a resonance within ourselves.

2. Unresolved Emotions:

Often, what triggers us in others are emotions or issues that we haven't fully dealt with in ourselves. It's like holding up a mirror to our own unaddressed fears, insecurities, or past traumas. For example, if you have unresolved abandonment issues, you might be hypersensitive to perceived rejection from others.

These triggers are like emotional signposts pointing us toward aspects of our inner world that need attention and healing. Instead of blaming others for our reactions, we can use these moments to explore our own emotional landscapes.

3. Expectations and Assumptions:

Many triggers are rooted in our expectations and assumptions about how others should behave or how a situation should unfold. When reality doesn't align with our mental scripts, we can feel frustrated, angry, or disappointed.

To mitigate this, it's essential to recognize that everyone has their own perspectives, experiences, and limitations. Practicing empathy and open-mindedness can help us navigate situations with less emotional reactivity.

4. Ego Protection:

Our ego, that inner sense of self and identity, often plays a significant role in our triggers. When someone challenges our beliefs or self-image, it can feel like a direct attack on our identity. This can result in a defensive emotional response.

Recognizing that our ego is not our true self but a construct can help us detach from the need to protect it. It allows us to engage in more constructive and less reactive conversations with others, even when discussing differing viewpoints.

5. Personal Growth Opportunities:

Understanding why we are triggered by others is an opportunity for personal growth and self-awareness. Instead of avoiding or reacting defensively, we can choose to respond consciously. Here's how:

- Self-Reflection: When triggered, take a step back and ask yourself why you're reacting this way. What might this trigger reveal about your own emotions or unmet needs?

- Empathy: Try to see the situation from the other person's perspective. What might be motivating their words or actions? Understanding their viewpoint can diffuse tension.

- Communication: Engage in open and honest conversations with those who trigger you, but do so calmly and respectfully. Express your feelings and concerns without blaming or attacking.

- Self-Care: Ensure that you're taking care of your own emotional well-being. When you're more grounded and emotionally resilient, you're less likely to be triggered by others.


Being triggered by others is a natural part of the human experience. It's a reminder that we're complex beings with our own histories, emotions, and expectations. Rather than avoiding or reacting defensively, we can use these triggers as opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth. By understanding the underlying causes and working on our own emotional responses, we can cultivate more harmonious and empathetic relationships with those around us.

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