10 Triggers that Lead to Negative Mindsets

Denise Pass

Contributing Writer
Published: Apr 04, 2022
10 Triggers that Lead to Negative Mindsets

The drama-filled life is full of people responding to other’s thoughts about them or even their own presumptive thoughts. It can be a vicious cycle as we try to navigate the many different triggers we will encounter on a daily basis.

But living our life in a reactive manner will have us triggered around every corner. We don’t have to let triggers get the upper hand if we are on the watch and aware of them. Our expectations can lead us into discouragement, but God’s expectations for us leads to joy and hope. When we feel triggered, there are biblical strategies that can help.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Motortion

Slide 1 of 5

Trigger 1: Offenses

We live in a lawsuit-happy culture where being offended is the norm. If anyone remotely thinks you said something to minimize their worth, it’s on. Conflict is in the air. And perhaps we have noticed this in ourselves as well. Offenses build fences, friends. But forgiveness and believing the best break those walls down.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense" (Proverbs 19:1 ESV). 

Offenses are let go with forgiveness and trusting that God has our back. It is so freeing to be able to let go of offenses and let go of worrying about self.

Trigger 2: Shame

We would not have shame if we did not have an audience. Invisible yet palpable, shame is often manifest as insecurity, like a suffocating blanket that snuffs the life right out of us. Labeled with other’s judgment of us, we cannot escape condemnation—unless we know the way out.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:1–3 ESV).

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We are not under the law of our culture, which places everyone under the shame lens. The way out of shame is through humility.

Slide 2 of 5
asian senior couple disagreement

Trigger 3: Personality

Our personality score on a personality test is not a life sentence. We can blame our personality for being easily triggered, or even the family we were raised in, but ultimately our personality is not the cause of us being triggered. We can change. And God completes the work. 

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6 NLT).

Habits of responding one way can be transformed when we seek to respond as Jesus would. Leaning into the Holy Spirit rather than our normal fleshly response helps us to be more like Jesus every day.

Trigger 4: Expectations

Expectations can smack a bit of entitlement. When things don’t go our way or according to what we had hoped or planned, look out! But if our expectations are fixed on this life, we will be in for a roller coaster ride.

“As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death" (Philippians 1:20 ESV). 

Laying down our expectation and dying to self helps us to pick up Christ’s expectations for this life, which involves suffering and carrying our cross. Adjusting our expectations to Kingdom expectations rather than personal ones helps us to not be so easily triggered when things don’t go our way.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/imtmphoto

Slide 3 of 5

Trigger 5: Comparison/Coveting

We are content with what we have until we see what someone else has. My husband and I used to be mocked for the cars we drove. 200,000 miles on them and battered appearance, I confess to sliding down in my seat to avoid the normal stares. But then we realized we did not need to measure up to other’s expectations. 

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV).

Teddy Roosevelt was noted as saying that “comparison is the thief of joy.” Joy replaces comparison when we are grateful for everyday things: health, family, friends, food, clothing, safety, freedom, church community, and the list goes on. What can you be thankful for today to implement joy? 

Trigger 6: Control

Images of “bridezilla” freaking out because things are not just how she wanted them to create quite the picture in our minds of what control can do. When we lose control perhaps it is a sign that we should lose control of what we think we are controlling, because it is controlling us.

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls" (Proverbs 25:28 ESV).

Ultimately, control issues arise from thinking everything depends on us. Knowing God is in control helps us to open our tight fists and to trust that God is able to handle it better than we can.

Slide 4 of 5
man in red shirt covering his face afraid worried fear

Trigger 7: Fear/Anxiety

When we think about the human condition, anxiety and fear are normal. We are all going to face hardships, sickness, financial crises, and even death. We have no idea how or when any of these tragedies will take place. And we live in a fallen world. There is a plethora of triggers for fear or anxiety surrounding us. But the Christian does not need to fear:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV).

God is with us. This is not just a pleasant-sounding phrase. This is a spiritual reality we are invited to embrace. Christ walked through death and rose again. Those who are in Christ will too. Praise God!

Trigger 8: Emotions

Our feelings can take us on a journey if we let them. (And often, the journey isn't pleasant for any parties involved.) The extremes of emotions we go through can leave us feeling broken and unable to control our minds and spirits.

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11 ESV).  

We don’t have to go through this life numb, and we don’t have to go through it stressed out from our emotions, either. When we submit our feelings to God and cry out for His help, he can help us to see the bigger picture and give us grace to process our feelings.

Photo Credit: ©PexelsAndrea Piacquadio

Slide 5 of 5

Trigger 9: Pride

Akin to shame and offenses, pride is provoked when we feel minimized by others. But pride has two opposite extremes, from overweening pride to false pride, where we don’t feel like we are ever enough.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom" (Proverbs 11:2 ESV).

Pride leads to shame. But when we know we are not enough, we are no longer triggered by pride. Christ is our sufficiency.

Trigger 10: Ingratitude

Being ungrateful comes naturally. We tend to think we deserve the best, if we are honest. After all, this is how pride often seeps its way into our hearts. Meanwhile, when others are not grateful for something we have done, we can be triggered and offended. 

Unfortunately, in today's society, being offended is almost a parallel to being just, right, and virtuous. It seems to be the end goal for so many people. Yet, remaining ungrateful and finding offense in others is not rewarding. It leads to no prize, no virtue, no honor. Thankfully, scripture has a different take on what it means to practice gratitude: 

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV).

Gratitude kills ingratitude. Learning to cultivate a grateful heart and giving thanks even when it seems crazy to do so shifts the atmosphere.

Triggers are inherently of our flesh. As we learn to walk in the Spirit and lean into God’s word, we don’t have to follow the flesh anymore.

Originally published Monday, 04 April 2022.