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Feeling Provoked?

January 9, 2019

We all get provoked.

The provocation can be by an intimate partner, our child, a parent, a colleague, our boss or an employee. The issue though isn’t about being provoked; the real issue is about managing ourselves in the midst of provocation.

In the midst of provocation the human response is to go into fight or flight mode. We seek to avoid the situation altogether or alternately, we may seek to take it on and perhaps give as good as we get. We’ve been triggered and the provocation gets the better of us.

How we handle provocation though says more about us that the provocateur.

Bill Eddy, a US lawyer/social worker talks about three elements when it comes to us being triggered. Those elements are:

  1. All or none thinking;
  2. Unmanaged emotions;
  3. Extreme behavior.

The challenge, according to Mr. Eddy is to develop flexible thinking, manage our emotions and moderate our behavior.

So much begins with self awareness – the ability to monitor oneself and recognize one’s emotional states. Only by first recognizing one’s emotional state can one then begin to regulate one’s emotions.

One regulates their emotions by first recognizing the emotional state and then putting thinking between the emotion and behavior.

By inserting thinking between feeling and doing, the person then gets to generate a number of alternative actions which is the hallmark of flexible thinking.

On the basis of the alternative actions generated the person can then determine the likely outcomes of the various alternatives if taken and then choose the course of action on the basis of the desired outcome. That lends itself to moderate behavior.

It looks like this:


Manage yourself and you master your response and better manage the situation and provocation. This de-escalates situations and lends itself to better outcomes.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.


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