Each of us has certain emotional pressure points. If one of these pressure points is triggered we may become upset, sad, or even angry.
Naturally, a lot of people can share the same pressure point. Examples would be people who don’t like to see animals mistreated or people who defend the rights and protection of children (I would like to think we all fit into this last category but sadly that seems not to be the case).
While it is important to know what sorts of comments and actions trigger powerful reactions, it is equally important to be able to handle our pressure points when they occur. Controlling the stress and pressure in our lives is important for our livelihood, health, and well-being.
Here are a few tips for knowing, understanding, and keeping on top of your emotional pressure points.
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Know your pressure points
Often your pressure points are based on your values (which is another good reason to know what your values are in the first place). If someone violates one of your values, it can ignite a response.
Pressure points are also based on experience. I will give you a personal example. My Dad died of lung cancer. In certain conversations and situations, smoking can be a pressure point for me, which can get interesting when I have friends who smoke.
While I secretly might feel like yelling at smokers about what they are doing to their bodies, shouting at your friends never goes down well. I also know from experience that lecturing a smoker simply doesn’t work. I can’t control the behavior of my friends, however, I can choose to control my behavior and be as far away from their cigarette smoke as possible.
I remember years ago one of my friends made a comment about smoking. It was along the lines of nothing being harder than giving up smoking. I snapped back at him. My Dad was in the hospital at the time and I had a rare night out with friends. I was sad, exhausted, and anxious. Not one of my finer moments but I understand now why I reacted the way I did.
At the time I wasn’t dealing with the incredible amount of stress I was under. My Dad was slowly dying in front of me and I overreacted to an innocent comment.
Need help getting your stress under control? CreativeLive has an online course run by Dr Cynthia Ackrill titled Stress is Optional which might be a good fit for you. You can take the course from the comfort of your own home, at your own pace.
Know when and how to calm yourself
If we commented or flew off the handle every time someone pushed our buttons, our lives would get messy. Messy, complicated, and stressful.
Imagine how many disputes would break out at work if everyone was loudly voicing their opinion every time someone upset them. I know what some of you are thinking, there might already be some people in your life who do just that!
We need to be able to calm ourselves. Self-soothing is an important skill.
People calm themselves in different ways, so you need to know what works best for you. Perhaps it’s taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk (if that option is available), listening to music, exercising, yoga, meditation, reading a good book, or spending some time alone.
A lot of us and I admit to doing this myself, use drinking to relax. Sometimes after a long, hard day, a glass of good quality red wine and sitting out in my courtyard with my cat enjoying the cool evening breeze can be just the ticket.
The key, I feel is moderation. If you are drinking every day to relax, warning bells should be going off. Something most likely is not right in your life. Binge drinking is another sign of a problem.
This applies to the usual suspects that we tend to reach for when we have a problem. Overeating, gambling, drugs, or shopping. Focus on the real problems that are causing you to act out in the first place.
Deal with the problem instead of trying to numb yourself.
No one wants to walk around life feeling like they are in a pressure cooker. Not many people want to be friends with someone who has a notoriously short fuse either.
Know when to stand up for yourself
There are times when you should stand up for yourself or your cause. Sometimes we simply have to speak out for what we believe in. Think assertive, not passive/aggressive.
Be clear and concise about the point you want to convey. Be firm but fair.
In your relationships, don’t say mean and hurtful things simply to make a point. Being spiteful will only come back to bite you in the end.
The trick is knowing when to stand up for yourself and when to shut up. There can be a fine line between the two.
Usually, we stand up for a value or cause we are passionate about. Squabbling over every tiny detail isn’t recommended.
We’ve all heard the expression – pick your battles.
An excellent book to help women with their assertiveness is The Assertiveness Guide for Woman: How to Communicate Your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries, and Transform Your Relationships by Julie de Azevedo Hanks PhD
Let go of the past
I have talked about this before on this blog. Coming to terms with our past can be quite challenging.
Letting go of hurt, guilt, and grudges can be difficult. Without a doubt, pressure points can be triggered by dwelling on the past.
Watch how someone’s mood and demeanor change instantly when they start talking about an ex-husband or ex-wife, particularly if it was a bad breakup or separation, especially if there was a messy financial situation, custody of a child, or infidelity involved.
I am not saying it’s easy to overlook any of these things but if they are your pressure points, you will need to find a way to deal with that pressure, particularly if there are children involved.
Seek out the help of a trained medical professional or counselor if you need help letting go of the past. Never feel ashamed to reach out for help. I have sought out counseling a couple of times in my life for different reasons and it has always helped!
Related post – Don’t Let the Past Hold You Back
Understand people have different triggers
If you are a perfectionist but people around you are in ‘that’s good enough’ mode, you are likely to feel stressed.
Why can’t everyone have your level of excellence you ask yourself? The short version. People are different.
If you constantly expect people to have the same values or standards as you, you will be disappointed.
I am the first to admit, it can be extremely frustrating when people close to you have completely opposing values and beliefs from yours. Family springs to mind immediately. Accepting other people’s opinions and practices can be hard.
Do your best to be sensitive to other people’s feelings.
Related post – Know Your Trigger Words and How to Deal with Them
Agree to disagree
Sometimes it is just a matter of agreeing to disagree.
Take my advice and give up on conversations where someone is trying to convince you black is white.
Discussions like this are exhausting and don’t end well. Usually, one person will throw in the towel and agree, simply to silence the other person or a major argument could break out, which can lead to resentment later.
Hardly the sort of interactions you want to be having in your life.
Where possible, change the subject to something more neutral.
Related post – How to Have Those Hard Conversations
Hang out with like-minded people
If people with opposing values are driving you to distraction, it might be time to find people who share the same views, opinions, or hobbies as you.
Spending time with like-minded people can be rewarding, interesting, fun, and thought-provoking and can bring great joy into your life.
The goal is more peace and joy – less pressure.
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