Going from trauma dumping to healthy emotional sharing is a crucial step towards building more supportive and balanced relationships.
Trauma dumping can be overwhelming for both the person sharing and the listener, and it may not provide the emotional support that the sharer truly needs.
Here’s an actionable guide to help individuals transition from trauma dumping to more constructive emotional sharing:
1. Self-reflection and awareness
Before sharing your emotions, take some time to reflect on your feelings. Ask yourself why you want to share this with someone, what you hope to achieve, and if this is the right time and person to share with.
Also sit with the feelings and figure out how you feel. Don’t focus on what other people did, focus on how your experience felt.
2. Choose the right person to share with
Not everyone is equipped to handle deep emotional conversations. Choose someone you trust and feel comfortable with. It could be a close friend, family member, therapist, or support group.
If you know someone is emotionally volatile or has a personal history that they’re still triggered or traumatised by, maybe choose someone else.
Or start with…
3. Getting consent
Instead of launching into your story, begin by asking if the person is available to listen.
“Hey, I’ve had a really hard time with X lately, can I talk to you about it?”
“I’ve been feeling Y and could use someone to talk to. Are you available?”
It’s that easy. Give the listener a choice and you’ll both come away feeling more connected.
4. Set the stage
Create a safe and conducive environment for the conversation. Find a quiet and private space where you won’t be interrupted. Turn off distractions like phones and TV.
5. Use “I” statements
When you begin sharing your emotions, use “I” statements to express your feelings and experiences. For example, “I feel angry because…” (not “Guess what my partner did?!”).
6. Be mindful of timing
Consider the timing of your conversation. Don’t choose a moment when the other person is busy or stressed. Ensure they have the mental and emotional capacity to listen and support you.
7. Set healthy boundaries
Let the person know how much you’re comfortable sharing. You can say, “I’d like to talk about this, but I’m not ready to go into all the details right now. Is it okay if we start with the basics?”
You can also let the other person know that if they feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed, they can ask you to stop at any time.
8. Respect their boundaries
Just as you set boundaries, be respectful of theirs. If they aren’t comfortable or able to provide the support you need, don’t push them. Seek alternative sources of support, such as a therapist or support group.
9. Listen actively
Emotional sharing should be a two-way street. After you’ve expressed your feelings, ask the other person how they’re doing, and be prepared to listen to their response as well.
10. Express gratitude
After the conversation, express gratitude to the person who listened to you. Let them know that you appreciate their support and that you’re aware of the emotional toll it can take.
11. Practice self-care
After sharing your emotions, take care of yourself. Engage in self-soothing activities like meditation, exercise, or journaling to process your feelings and prevent emotional burnout.
11. Seek professional help when needed
If your trauma or emotional experiences are significantly impacting your mental health, consider seeking professional help. Therapists and counsellors are trained to provide the appropriate support and guidance.
Remember that emotional sharing is an essential aspect of building and maintaining healthy relationships. But it’s important to strike a balance between sharing your emotions and being considerate of the other person’s needs and boundaries. By following these steps, you can create a more supportive and understanding environment for both yourself and those you share with.