Being a sensitive introvert like me isn’t always easy, especially when you struggle with emotional triggers.
To be honest, I have been feeling triggered a lot lately, which means certain situations have caused a strong emotional response in me that seems disproportionate to what is happening.
In other words, my buttons are being pushed! But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
My career forces me to constantly do my own inner work and healing as I help my clients and students with their transformations. I’ve noticed a painful, but necessary pattern in the transformation process.
If you want change, you’ve got to open the cupboard. Allow me to explain what I mean by that.
Read on to understand sneaky introvert emotional triggers and how to heal, or watch the quick video instead. 😉
What’s hiding in your emotional cupboard?
Being the artsy, INFP dreamer that I am, I have a tendency to be disorganized. Over the years, I’ve learned to keep my home and my work in order…for the most part.
Walk into my house, and it’s usually tidy, and clean. But if you open my kitchen cupboards, it’s a mess. Unlabeled bulk spices and five nearly empty rice bags threaten to tumble out.
As adult introverts, the way we handle our emotional life can be a lot like this. We present a put-together version of ourselves to the world, as we stuff our emotions into hidden cupboards.
We do our best to forget these emotions exist. Meanwhile, they grow and fester in the shadows. And then it happens.
You decide that you no longer want to live a life that isn’t yours. You don’t want to wear a mask and pretend like everything’s okay.
Your suppressed emotions are like, “YAAAAAAY, we can finally be free!” Emotional triggers open the dam, allowing your emotions to flood out with alarming force.
Here are some common emotional triggers for introverts.
Common introvert emotional triggers
1. Being criticized or underestimated
2. Rejection from an acquaintance or love interest
3. Having your ideas belittled, making you feel incompetent
4. Being interrupted, talked over, and made to feel unheard.
5. Bullying of any kind, even if it is disguised as playful teasing
6. Being abandoned by someone you care about
7. Failure of any kind
The reason emotional triggers like the ones above cause such a response in you is because they bring up times in the past when you felt similarly.
Maybe you felt abandoned as a child. Or perhaps, you were bullied. Maybe you had older siblings who constantly belittled you. These patterns repeated as you grew older, and the emotions in the cupboard swelled.
Whatever the cause, being emotionally triggered is incredibly overwhelming! It can also be downright confusing if you’ve been ignoring your emotions for years. You wonder if you’re going mad. Nope.
You’re just being a human.
How to heal emotional triggers
The next time you feel that uncomfortable flood of anxiety, anger, and utter emotional pain—DON’T do what you normally do.
In other words, don’t rush to fix, eat, distract, perfect, or Google the pain away. These are all coping mechanisms that keep you from actually FEELING the emotions.
All the distractions force your emotions back into the cupboard, where they keep you stuck in the same old painful patterns. Here’s how to break free.
Feel the emotions. Lean into them. Sit with them. Journal about them. Breathe into them. And then declare what you want instead.
When you free up the energy around what you don’t want (repeated heartbreak, a meaningless life, constant rejection), you can focus on what you DO want (love, purpose, acceptance).
Do the inner work, love! It will be worth it.
I include innie insights like the ones I shared today in my new book, The Year of The Introvert.
It’s a daily inspiration book with weekly reflection questions, as well as monthly challenges, ‘Book Nooks’, ‘Fortune Cookies’, and introvert love. I’m really happy with the way my publisher designed it up. You can take a look inside on Amazon.
P.S. If you liked today’s video, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel. 🙂
So, how do you keep yourself from ruminating on whatever triggered you? My worst cases of self sabotage have been when I’ve had a half hour or more drive home from some situation that went south. The ruminations start and when I get home I’m so wound up I invariably lash out with some text or email.
sometimes I feel, I have a mental disorder because i always feel angry. My work makes me tired, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally tired.
When I have my own time, I am too tired to recover. And so it happens every day …. 🙁
That is tough. It’s hard to break out of the cycle when you’re constantly exhausted. 🙁
Hi Michaela i just came across your older book The irresistible introvert, it truly resonates wifh me. I went thru all of whaf u went thru. Also the first time im reading from an asian’s perspec most books at library from americans’ pov whichs just not the sams. I never liked to do grpwork, like when i just couldn talk out my ideas i was alienated. Now im an adult, but alot of stuff still evades me. I do have confidence but i dunno how to express it at work. Bosses labeled me as slow learner. I know i can do it, but not given engh time to adapt.
And im in btw jobs now, coz i dw to be in sales or F/b. Plus my dad is ocd, takes over space at home. It sucks that my goal is to move out, but i just dunno how to.
Not ebogh experience to be in the field of choice i wanto be. My best gift is writing fiction
Have you started to look into a different field? of changing jobs? Something needs to change for you because Anger shortens your life span. Please, do something about it soon. It’s not mental illness it’s the results of your environment.
I feel you. You’ve made it so far, just keep swimming.
Thank you for addressing this particular issue. I knew I was being triggered & resort to F/F/F. I Freeze most times. It’s the least risky behavior in my environment- at least it’s the 1 I can still seem present but I’m actually not. survival mode is to shut down and not speak & avoid eye contact; additionally I tend to gravitate toward 1 person who is not an emotional threat. I can spot he or she bc either of them are ME in a different skin. I tend to also take out my rage on those ppl. So I am harming someone else. My ego is trying to hide all of me & my skin is so thin – you can see through it. My pale skin flushed red/pink – it’s more than just my heart being on my sleeve. Anyway TY so much for your blog or article bc it validated EVERY SINGLE instinct I’ve had. There is years of trauma, bullying; adults & other kids at school & home. I never felt safe. Soooooo~ I became attracted to “not being safe”. Which was to say the least, self sabotage w/ a black satin bow on it & a grenade inside my heart/gut. This may or may not make sense to you. I don’t have expectations anymore so I’ve already received validation that I’ve sought for over 35 years. I’m in recovery from addiction- 6 yrs clean & sober. I LOVE AA it saved my life. Unfortunately ~ there are just some things & work that needs to be done that I’m not sure the 12 steps can change? Maybe I’m wrong. I’m not coddled ~ bc it is too close to enabling. I want to get well – I want peace & to feel safe ANYWHERE I choose to go. I know this has to be changed from the inside out …… and feeling pain is not something I’m afraid of. I’m sure there’s more to it & I’m not a young woman. It’s time to stop F-ing around & take charge of myself . I’m sure your extraordinarily busy- if there was a work book you could point me to?? Thank you!!!!!!!! Kim
Hi Michaela. Your post was very timely for me. I just ended a relationship with a very extroverted person who was particularly good at setting off those triggers if I wasn’t being extroverted enough in her eyes. As an INFJ and HSP, being made to feel an outcast because I wasn’t partying quite loudly enough quickly triggered of my feelings inadequacy and isolation. Per your advice, I am trying to just feel the pain now, and think about how I can do better in the future. One thing that has helped immediately has been focusing of my goal of becoming more of a minalmist in life – as you suggested in a post last year. It is something that brings me peace. Thank you again.
Ok so you said not to google and look for ways to try to fix the problem.. So should i just try to sit there and let my mind think about my emotions? I kinda don’t entirely know what i should do with my emotions then because i would usually distract myself because i cant currently change the situation that is causing these emotions to arise.
Thanks for all your insights to the introvert mind, I find your opinions always accurate with my situations.
So today, my challenge is on expressing my anger.
You previously suggested, ‘we should feel the emotions’ , but the problem is whenever I express myself the best way I can by reacting to the situation, I’m always misunderstood and looked as as the villain and no longer the victim.
So have I done wrong in expressing myself when I’m angry? Should I keep it all to myself? Why do people always pick me as the bad guy after I express myself? Why don’t I ever win in an argument? And how can I resolve all this?
I hate being criticized, that’s def one trigger for me. I just can’t look at their messages or speak to those friends, even if they say they mean well. It’s even more infuriating, when people break promises or appointments, like today, i really wanted to wallop someone. If a stranger dared to approach me, i wld possibly snap at them.
Would u be able to reply me Michaela?
Dear Monica, this criticism thing is a subtle way of bullying. My mother used to criticize me, then tell me “You just can’t take criticism, can you?” Being criticized for not liking criticism! Double whammy. Perhaps criticize them back, ask them why they feel they need to say nasty things to you. Tell them you are not their project for “improvement”; you are who you are and if they don’t like it they can jog on.
Thanks James. I think I like this. Telling them, you’re not their project and you don’t like to be criticized, should immediately shut them up. My brother usually does this whenever we play video game and I hate it so much – often times, I just ignore him. But taking your advice now, I’m going to tell him thanks but no thanks in his mission to improve my game.
As an INTP, I feel that I have a habit of compartmentalizing my emotions and then coming back to them later to look at them with a critical eye. I then decide if they’re worth being acted upon or simply let go of.
I’m not really in the business of showing my emotions, so like the INTJ, I can sometimes appear cold and calculating, even robotic. Feelings and emotions are so fleeting, it’s easier to let them go than let them take you for a joy ride.
Being willfully misunderstood is one of my triggers. Some people are so eager to pin a label on you when they don’t even know you. I was attacked for being a racist online by a person who hadn’t really read my comment, but was looking for someone to call “racist”. If he had read my comment properly he would have seen that I was supporting a racial minority’s decision not to open a cultural centre because it would cost them too much money and would be a burden on their community, not because I didn’t want them to have a presence in our city.
I’ve had more therapists than Murphy Brown had secretaries! Some helped me tremendously, others were in the wrong profession. I’m also asexual & that may be the reason I’m an introvert. I’ve often wondered if the majority of the population was like me would I still be one. As it is, I’ve never fit in or could identify with others. However since I found your page I don’t feel like such a freak anymore. There is so much info I can relate to there! I am thankful you exist! Please keep up the great work!