09/18/2014 11:25 am ET Updated Nov 18, 2014

Annoying Ex? Bad Job? No Cell Service? Don't Let These 'Triggers' Shut You Down!

Pixland via Getty Images

We're all trying to become better people. (It least in theory. And when I say "better" I am not implying there's anything flawed, or messed up, or wrong with you as you are now. The potential of who each of us is -- the tiny seed of love and compassion and possibility that dwells within us all -- already is perfection.)

But life has this interesting transformational principle that evokes our hard edges -- our places of discomfort and resistance; impatience and places we get stuck -- to try to work through these areas to make us better.

The more we become awake to what we're actually feeling, the more we can step into that feeling instead of suppressing it.

We will get triggered in life, by an ex, by missing a train, by getting rejected -- these things are going to evoke our "stuff." And lots of it. When we get triggered, we want to allow ourselves to have visceral, unedited, instinctual reactions. Reactions that sometimes we're trying to be more mindful of not having -- we suppress; we brood; we complain, we put more negative out into the world. We like to be emotional zombies -- it's "safe!"

This may seem at first defeating of purpose -- counterintuitive. But it isn't. So you're at the bank and you're about to go bananas because the bank tellers are moving at a glacial pace and you're already late for an appointment. But instead you breathe and become aware of your tension and impulse to yell at the woman behind the counter. And you find a way to spread positive stuff out into the world instead.

The only way we can start growing in life is to feel the feeling and be aware of how we try to get around it.

This is mindfulness.

So when you get triggered don't put a stopper on it -- try to observe it and be in it mindfully.
Using this new knowledge we can learn how to choose a different path, a different reaction, when the paths previously taken bring you (and others) nothing but heartache and pain.