The thought that we aren’t triggered by our environment is like thinking we have control over our environment.

It’s not possible.

Everywhere we go we are met with things that trigger our thoughts and behavior. It might be a person, situation, or something we see or smell. We get triggered.
What we do in that moment of being triggered is key to behavior change.

What I love about Marshall Goldsmith’s book Triggers is he explains that we have a choice in making changes. In fact, he outlines a wheel of change which constitutes four ways of making choices.

A creative choice: This involves thinking outside the box of what you already think you know. I liken it to thinking about possibilities rather than roadblocks. It is what we want to create for ourselves.

A preserving choice: This involves knowing what is good in your life and knowing your strengths. It is critical so you keep your goals in sight. In other words what in your life is worth keeping?

An eliminating choice: What can you get rid of? Sometimes we hold on to tight to something, a way of life or a way of thinking. If it is not helping you, then it may be taking up too much space.

An accepting choice: Sometimes we don’t want to accept a defeat, especially when change is at stake. But let’s face it sometimes we don’t get it right. Once we accept that something isn’t working we make a creative choice and look at other possibilities.

In his book Goldsmith challenges, us to ask important questions. Questions such as “Am I willing to take responsibility, now, to make a positive difference in my life on this topic?” Wow! That is powerful.

It’s a great S.W.A.T. question.

Stop What you are doing.

Ask questions.

  1. Am I willing to do what it takes to lose weight?
  2. Is this the best time?
  3. Am I willing to make an investment in myself? Now?

Take action.

Answer the questions.

Yes! I am willing to do what it takes, right now.

By using S.W.A.T. and asking powerful questions we can begin to make changes to not only our behavior but to our old ways of thinking that may have been keeping us stuck.

In order to take more action, ask yourself this question, “what can I do today to begin to achieve the change I want in my life?” Then write down the top three things you can begin to practice today that will help you achieve your goal.


Susan Macey PhD

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Make sure to check out my previous blogs if you haven’t already:
–  Time is like a black hole.
–  Diets are like amusement parks. 
– Self Discovery is like hiking.

2 thoughts on “Triggers”

  1. Hello Dr. Macey,

    As always your guidance is extremely helpful. Specifically, in this moment, as I was contemplating eating a candy bar (triggered by an emotional response to my ex).



    1. SWAT that thought! Hurray for recognizing your emotions as drivers for your choices. Even though at times we may want to respond to triggers using old coping strategies (food) by practicing SWAT we can take back our power over food.

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