Triggers & Blame

Triggers & Blame

In this practice, you are paying attention to yourself, rather than any external stimuli, and using your self-awareness to notice and reflect on your reactions. You are noticing your own reactivity and trying to make better choices, using mindful response for your personal wellness.

Rather than focusing on or blaming the person or event that pushed your buttons, keep the attention on yourself to learn. Noticing your “buttons” and “triggers” is data, more information to deepen your self-knowledge. Conscious awareness of what things cause you anger or highly reactive emotions will enable you to choose better situations to be in to avoid such emotional reactivity as well as give you the opportunity to temper and manage your reactivity to such triggers and buttons when you cannot control your environment. You always have choices!!!

Discover Your Own Hot Buttons 


Write about your experiences that involve your “hot buttons” and “triggers” that cause you to react strongly, quickly, mindlessly.

Reflect on your experiences in writing, and then imagine how you might instead respond less reactively to similar scenarios in the future.

Write about other possibilities for responding and ways you might temper your reactivity.

Perhaps if you discover what lies beneath the buttons, triggers, and reactivity, you can choose another way to manage your emotions and thoughts for future wellness. Be careful to stay focused on you and your own response rather than getting caught up in blaming or victim-mentality. Again, this exercise is about only the part you play in scenarios that are stressful and cause you to react emotionally.

It is imperative to be as detailed, specific, and honest as possible in writing, so that you can improve your own self-knowledge and wellness. Try to be open to other, more mindful ways to respond to what triggers your reactivity. Be creative and make a list about possible responses that support your wellness. Plan to implement your new approaches as soon as possible to see which ones are most effective. Be patient and compassionate. You are still only learning how to be you!


“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Imbalance results when we are focused too much on the external and not enough on the internal, where our true self resides. Learning about who you are and taking responsibility for what one can control really is “an inside job.”

When you start to notice your own triggers and hot buttons through self-study and understand that they are your responsibility to manage for your wellness, you’ll likely blame others and external events less. This is the opposite of victim-mentality, where you believe everything that happens in your life is meant to victimize or punish you. Instead of focusing on “righting the external oppression” just for now, try to do what you CAN to respond to what is.  Often, it’s quicker and easier to push the discomfort onto someone else than to do the work of processing and coping with an uncomfortable truth about yourself. Practice owning your own buttons and responses to the external world and what it hands you. (Play the hand you are dealt by making mindful choices!)


Notice whether or not you are blaming others and outside forces more than taking internal, personal responsibility for how you respond to what happens in your environment and your experiences.

Write about your experiences and observations regarding blame– how you use it, and how you might try to break a blaming habit if one exists?

Is there room for taking more ownership over your own feelings, reactions, and responses to what happens that might be beyond your control?

Could you practice taking ownership in emotionally benign situations to learn more about how to take ownership to prepare for times when it may be more difficult to do so?

Is it possible to see that what happens “to” you, may be happening “for” you, to teach you something? To help you become more you, a better you? To get stronger? To change? To grow? To push you beyond your comfort-zone?

Explore, in writing, your own understanding and experiences with the notions of blaming, victim-mentality, personal responsibility, and empowered ownership of one’s own feelings and thoughts.


 Read Jennifer Kunst’s Psychology Today article, Three Fingers Pointing Back to You” and reflect on it in writing.



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