Trigger Translation Journal

1. Trigger – 

The first step is capturing some stimulating moments, the words or events, the “trigger” with no censoring – anything goes. Not telling anyone else, just acknowledging something came up with some charge for me. Remembering, when I focus on wrongness or blame, my attention can easily move to seeking someone to punish. It might be I want to punish the other person for treating me poorly, or I may kick myself for being stupid or not learning better. I mention the “trigger” below and move to step 2.

2. Observation –

The second step is to translate this stimulus/trigger into a simple, neutral description (no judgments or labels) – what took place; an observation. Evaluations block out a free flow of life through me. When I describe in neutral terms, I already start to calm myself from the upset of the trigger stories.

3. my Feelings – 

Next, identify my own feelings that come up in this moment – am I angry or hurt, frustrated or worried, concerned or horrified? It helps to translate any feelings that are tangled with thoughts and stories about the other person. Take the time and energy to translate feelings that are tangled with judgment and blame into feelings that reside only inside me.

4. my Needs –

Next connect with the Need that the feeling is pointing to. Remembering every word and all action is an attempt to meet a life-serving need, helps me see the motivation behind actions or words I may regret. If I still feel charged when I identify my need, I dig deeper for other needs under that one. When I have a sense of relaxation or opening in the body, it indicates I have found the deeper need behind my action in that moment.

5. my Request –

Explore ways to meet the needs in the form of a request. Make my request as specific, clear and oriented to positive actions in service of the need I identified with an openness to hear a ‘no.’ If the other person says ‘no’; I can find other strategies, make other requests to myself, to them or to others.

6. his or her or their Feelings – 

Imagine what the other person might be feeling at the moment of their actions or words. I remember their facial expression, tone of voice, body language, speed or volume of speech, word choice, etc. to help me guess.

7. his or her or their Needs – 

Dig for the needs behind their words or action. Seek deeper needs until there is a sense of opening and/or relaxation.

8. Amended Request –

I stretch into one of the life-enriching principles in NVC: to find strategies that work for everyone. Once I know what my needs are and imagine what the other person’s needs might be, I open my heart to creative possibilities (rather than compromise or give up on my needs to keep the peace). It is possible to make win-win requests, strengthen my NVC skills and form new habits. 

(Adapted by Martha Lasley and Reena Ginwala for Authentic Communication 

Based on Meganwind Eoyang and Jane Connor (McMahon)’s Instructions for “Trigger Translation Journal” )

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