Control Your Emotions Or Your Emotions Will Control You

April 26, 2017 / Category: Communication

Emotional triggers, what we at Third Level like to call your Hot ButtonsTM, are a part of everyone’s emotional fabric. They are a natural response to upsetting or painful experiences. Think of them as sensitive spots often causing limited and repeated thoughts caused by something that leaves an emotional bruise. Not surprisingly, whether you’re aware of them or not, these Hot Buttons affect you in many ways:

  • They can cause stress or pain when they have too much control over you.
  • They manifest negatively below your level of conscious awareness, which is why many people are not even aware of them.
  • They result in a pattern of beliefs, communications, behaviors and outcomes that are reflexive, rather than thoughtful.


Sometimes our Hot Buttons are valuable. We are hurt by a failure in our past, and vow never to let that feeling of failure arise again. It helps us drive to success. And, sometimes that same Hot Button can get in the way of effective leadership, communication and thoughtful decisions. That same failure button could make us driven and demanding in ways that that cost us good people and performance.

In the business world, particularly, a powerful emotional charge that results in unproductive, reactionary decisions and behavior is not only counterproductive, it can also be destructive and limits growth, leadership potential, and the ability to work as an effective member of a team. These same negative consequences that will hold you back in the workplace will also cause problems at home and in personal relationships.

Hot Buttons do not have to run your professional (or private) life, though. They can be addressed effectively. Like so many things in life, the first step in overcoming them is identifying and understanding them. Some common emotional triggers include:

  • Lacking the confidence to say, “No.”
  • Feeling that someone else (a boss, co-worker, customer, etc) controls your time.
  • Believing that your opinion/ideas are not valued.
  • Experiencing a professional challenge as a personal failure.
  • Changes in routine, an atmosphere of instability or lack of structure.


With knowledge comes empowerment. Recognizing a situation as one that will trigger an emotional response allows you to take an emotional “step back,” and actually choose whether you want to ride the train along the same rails as in the past, or you want to take a detour toward a constructive response.

Once you’ve decided to change the pattern, and being aware of your unproductive perceptions and behavior will allow you to address your stressful “trigger situations” with the tools necessary to set aside your emotional knee-jerk reaction in favor of a balanced, thoughtful response. Shifting your emotional state and responding from a thoughtful, logical place becomes a skill you can practice until the new dynamic becomes second nature.

Rather than rather than letting unconscious patterns and old emotions control you, you can then make conscious decisions that more likely serve you and your business,

It’s a healthier, more powerful and more productive way to live!

 If you would like more information on identifying and overcoming your Hot Buttons – or helping your team to identify and overcome theirs, check out our Services/Hot Buttons page, or contact us at or + 1-800-262-0705.