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Dr. Bill Austin

Ya' Gotta Know When

Positive Comparisons

Empathetic Listening

The Wrong Big Picture

Staying Young On The Inside

What Is Your Bread?

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What's It Like to Retire?

Creating a Safe Relationship

Disease and Relationships

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Stress Reduction


Your Dog Can't Swim

What kind of listener do you want me to be?

Dealing with Criticism

Run Your Own Race, Part II

Run Your Own Race

The Next Chapter in Our Lives

Creating New Normals

Beating the Holiday Blues

Emotional Triggers

"You're with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company" - Diane Von Furstenburg

The grace of forgiveness

Trying to blend a blended family

The Umbrella Story

How Disease Impacts A Relationship

Overcoming the Holiday Blues

Talking Dog for Sale

Trying to Blend a Blended Family

The Worst Beating I Ever Took

"It's my fault!"

You had it last!

It's All About Me!

The grace of forgiveness

Cooling the brain

Life's Puzzle-Box Top

Simon Says

Unenforceable Rules

Stone Face

It's All About Me!

You Lost That Loving Feeling

Don't Tell Me What To Do

Do it now

No Opportunity to Repair

The Umbrella Story

How Do We Express Our Love?

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Professional Columns -
Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin



In this column, I would like to highlight some latent triggers for our anger.

It might be said that the triggers for anger involve our values. An example could be our getting angry when someone is condescending toward us. In this case, our value is about our thoughts, our person, being respected. When we find ourselves getting angry, we might look at what values are being crossed.

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I recently asked people to list triggers for their anger. The list included: when people talk down to me, when they treat me as if I am stupid, when they talk behind my back, or when they think they know it all and are better than I am. If we made a list of triggers that set us off, we might notice, like in the list above, that a lot are carryovers that set us off as children. Some of us carry those childhood triggers to adulthood.

Of course, stressors can cause us to be less tolerant and more prone to anger. One of those stressors is when we are overwhelmed. When our to-do list is too long, we feel overwhelmed. Of course, when we are overwhelmed, we have less patience and tend to be on edge. It doesn't take much for us to get angry.

Another stressor is when we are grieving. Grief uncorks feelings such as anger, guilt, relief, sorrow and anxiety. When we experience these strong emotions that drain our energy, we find ourselves "on edge" so that the least little thing can cause us to snap at someone.

One of the experiences that can set us on edge is an operation. The body is on edge because of all the chemicals and trauma it has experienced. We may find ourselves uptight and ready to crawl out of our skin emotionally. We can cry or growl instantly until the chemicals are out of our system.

When I was in seminary, I was chosen for a year-long internship in Panama. The night before I was to leave, my family invited some friends for a going-away party. I found myself on edge and irritated with my family. I felt guilty. Why am I so irritated with them? I thought. They are being nice and giving me a party. Luckily, I realized why I was so irritated. It was because of the feelings I had about going to Panama.

Many of our conflicts happen prior to leaving on a deployment, before an operation, before the wedding, before leaving for college or with any change in our life situation.

The more we know what our triggers are, the more we can respond instead of reacting when our buttons are pushed.

Dr. Austin has decades of experience dealing with relationships. He charges clients on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay. His first book, Creating Our Safe Place: Articles on Healthy Relationships, was published in 2004. His second book, Keeping It Safe, was published in 2009 and can be purchased through,, and at the Parrish Book Store in Virginia Beach.  He is also a sought-after speaker at meetings and seminars.

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