Triggers and Reactions

It’s no secret that the real estate and mortgage business are filled with problems. It can be frustrating because the majority of problems you face are outside your control, i.e. low appraisals, repair issues, buyers who get cold feet. These are what I refer to as “triggers.” A trigger is an event or thing that causes an emotional disturbance within you – fear, envy, scarcity, anger, frustration, etc. Triggers may also cause joyful reactions but most people don’t need help dealing with the good stuff.

Respond vs React

Triggers that cause negative emotions tend to cause us to react, usually in a negative way. This can come in the form of distraction, anger, projection or anything else that doesn’t serve us long term. What we need to learn is to identify our triggers upfront and then have a plan or an approach in place so that we choose to respond rather than react. Reacting is allowing the emotion to guide your actions or behavior. You might yell, shut down, or send a nasty email. Responding, on the other hand, is waiting until you have assessed the situation and calmed down before you take any action.

A Plan for Response

In all cases, except those that actually threaten our lives or the lives of others, we want to be responding not reacting. A person who gives considered responses rather than flying off the handle when something goes awry is a person who is well-respected, easy to work with, and easy to refer. When something triggers you, use this four step process for calming your reaction and giving yourself space to respond.

Step 1 – Become aware you are triggered.

Acknowledge that you are emotionally disturbed, i.e. you are angry, you are frustrated, you are sad, you are depressed, you feel hopeless, and have a choice to either react or respond. Keep the emotion from becoming a long-term feeling. Getting aware that you are not your thoughts, you are not your emotions, will help you remain detached from what your body has been patterned to do based on your past experiences. Having space between your emotional reactions and how you handle them will allow you to be more in control.

Step 2 – Identify what preference is not being net.

Triggers only occur when your preferences aren’t being met. Most preferences are created by our ego and really aren’t as important as they seem. It is an ongoing journey to manage our preferences and triggers. The fewer preferences we have based on other people’s actions or behaviors, the more joy we’ll have in life and our business. That’s not to say we can’t have standards and boundaries. They simply need to be clear and agreed to by the people we do business with. Then everyone knows what to expect.

Step 3 – Recognize your hallucination.

If you figure out what your hallucination is when your trigger isn’t met, you will understand why it is bothering you so much. Your hallucination is the worst-case scenario that you are worried about. The goal again is to have a plan that enables you to respond, not react and to admit you are hallucinating. Figuring it out helps make it more predictable. So many of us immediately go to the worst-case scenario as soon as something doesn’t go as planned. We start thinking we’re going to lose the client forever, or worse yet, we’re going to be a total failure and not be able to provide for our family, even when the situation had nothing to do with us and was totally outside of our control. What I encourage you to do when a trigger causes you to hallucinate about all the bad things that are going to happen is to state the trigger out loud. Say, “My trigger is X because my preference of Y isn’t being met, so I’m hallucinating that Z is going to happen.” Just the act of saying it out loud is often enough to see the ridiculousness of what your trigger is causing you to feel.

Step 4 – Avoid or grow.

The last step, and certainly the most important, is to decide to grow through the trigger or strive to avoid it. Let’s take for example a preference for not getting stuck in traffic. When it happens you could choose to grow through it. You could use the time to raise your energy and do a mini meditation, you could be more grateful, be more present, listen to a podcast, or do something else that allows you to grow and become more patient. You could even make calls to prospects and referral partners.

Or you could avoid it. You could say I’m just not going to drive at this time of day, or I’m just not going to take this route because you don’t think there’s any way that you could grow through it. That’s okay. My hope would be that you would always try to grow through it first. But we all need to give ourselves permission to draw the line when we simply can’t.

Importance of Trigger Management

It’s important to manage triggers because triggers are what derail people every day. Triggers cause individuals to become ineffective and produce negative energy. No one likes to work with or be around someone who has negative energy. It causes a domino effect. Maybe you get a couple of triggers strung together. Now you’ve had a bad day. Then you bring it home and you’re not present with your family because you’re still dwelling on those triggers and negative feelings. You don’t exercise and you don’t take care of yourself. Without the ability to manage your triggers you end up creating a whirlwind of chaos.

The goal is to bring joyful energy into every situation. I love this quote by Brendon Burchard from The Power of Personal Responsibility:

“The power plant doesn’t have energy, it generates energy. Similarly, we don’t have an attitude, we generate one.”

Our energy and attitudes have to be generated every single day. Allowing our triggers to drain our positive energy and replace it with negativity and self-doubt does not serve us.