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How To Tell Your Friend That They’re Triggering Your Trauma (Respectfully)

We all know how difficult having certain conversations are with your friends, especially the ones that take things to heart. It’s a stressful situation where you don’t want to hurt your friend, but you also want to stop hurting yourself by being around them. So you’re left with two options: you either tell them that they’re affecting your mental health or you stop hanging out around them. Now you don’t want to lose a friend, but you also feel really anxious about talking about it with them. Here is how to tell your friend that they’re triggering your trauma (respectfully).

Step one: Be as anxious as you want. Process it, cry about it, scream about it, etc. Let out all those emotions you’ve been holding in since they started affecting your mental health. 

Step two: Clean yourself up, make yourself look less like you’ve been freaking out and more like you’ve been taking a stroll in the park. Compose yourself as much as you can (even if you can’t, that’s okay).

Step three: Gather all the courage and braveness you have in yourself and go to your friend. Forget about everything else and go talk to your friend. That person is your friend for a reason, they love you and care about you. They would want to know if they are hurting you in any way, shape, or form. They’re there for you regardless.

Step four: When you get to your friend’s door or side or wherever you are to get their attention; take a deep breath. Breathe in for five seconds, breathe out for seven. Look at them right in the eyes and say, “can we please talk about something?” 

Step five: When your friend says yes, pull them to the side and take a second to gather your thoughts. Don’t throw all the information at them at once or they won’t know how to process it. Take another deep breath. Start with, “I need to talk to you about how my mental health has been lately because…” and continue with your own words. 

Step six: Do not accuse your friend. Do not say, “it’s because of you,” or “you made me feel like..” Your friend can’t read minds so don’t expect them to. Say something like “I’ve been feeling like… because something you said/did reminded me of my traumas,” or just clarify that you’re not accusing them of hurting you, that you’re simply telling them that they did something that hurt you. 

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Step seven: Love yourself enough to walk away from them if they try to invalidate your feelings or make themselves seem like the victim. Those are not good friends to have around so just make sure you put yourself first. If they have a good reaction where they understand where you’re coming from and that they’re willing to change in order to stop hurting your mental health, then hug them and let them know that you love them (many people still appreciate that).

So there you have it. A seven step guide on how to tell your friend that they have been hurting you. Remember that you need to get yourself out of a situation that’s affecting you worse than it should be. The way you feel is important and a real friend will know that and try their hardest to make you feel better and more comfortable, and of course, vice versa as well. Never forget your worth and nobody else will either!

Melissa is a freshman studying Social Entrepreneurship at Lynn University as a part of the Watson Institute. She loves to read, write, and listen to music. Her passion is helping people live better lives than they thought they would be able to. She would like to help others change their paths, as well as spread awareness about the severity of certain issues, like mental health. Her dream is to own her own businesses with a focus on resolving social issues, her mission area being human rights. She is extremely ambitious and determined to make it far. She's always ready to learn new things because she believes knowledge and wisdom are the greatest powers to possess.
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