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Dealing with triggers - March 16th 2015, 11:26 PM

Hi I have stopped cutting for about 10 months, and have basically stopped self harming in general too. I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice for dealing with triggers and decreasing how much they bother me? Usually it'll give me an urge to hurt myself and I can usually get through that, but I want to be able to be triggered less and be comfortable around them, eg around people with visible self harm scars.
Also wondering if people find they're triggered less the longer they've stopped?
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Re: Dealing with triggers - March 17th 2015, 01:29 AM

Hey there,

I am so proud of you for being self harm free for as long as you have! That is super amazing.

I think that sometimes dealing with triggers involves developing a sort of action plan. Maybe you can bring things with you that you can do with your hands, for example. Doing something like squeezing a stress ball can help and it won't bring tons of attention to you. You can also make a list of reasons why you don't want to self harm anymore to keep with you.

Also use positive self-talk in that situation. For example, say you see someone with visible self harm scars. Obviously it is best to try and avoid looking as much as possible, but you can also try and use encouragement in order to avoid self harming, such as by saying "I can do this," or "I can beat these urges," and reward yourself when you do. If you ever have a negative thought about yourself, replace it with a positive one. For example, you can say "I am beautiful, I am smart, I am trying my best."

I think that the urges do start to get less over time, and over time you also develop more coping mechanisms.


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Re: Dealing with triggers - March 18th 2015, 04:11 AM

Personally, I believe triggers are a mental and emotional battle. I believe that you have to be strong enough to beat those urges. One way I dealt with my triggers was face what triggered me head on. I didn't shy away from it, even if it made me uncomfortable. You just need to have the will and tell yourself that you CAN get past this. Just believe in yourself and I promise everything will be ok.
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Re: Dealing with triggers - March 21st 2015, 01:15 AM

It takes time. A lot of time. I still get triggered, but not as much as I used to. The urges are still there but not as bad as they used to be. I self-harmed for over ten years. It's been over two years with a few slips but mainly I haven't hurt myself in awhile. Things that helped me personally were no longer having specific mental illnesses (growing out of them), getting off meds, having a therapist, having a fiance, and surrounding myself with the only friends and family members who care the most about me. Stay away from obvious triggers (pictures, movies, etc.) and if you come across a trigger, take several deep breaths and try to focus on something else or do something else entirely. Soon you will forget that you were triggered at all. But I do believe it takes time to not be so affected. Take it easy and do what you need to do to stay safe.

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Re: Dealing with triggers - March 21st 2015, 08:29 PM

Whenever I feel triggered, I either one try and take myself out of the situation/get away from the trigger or two remind myself that whatever it may be it's only temporary and will eventually get better. It's important to stay positive and make sure that you know that the trigger won't last forever. Hope this helps. Also writing stuff out, or finding an alternative to do when you're triggered works well too.

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Re: Dealing with triggers - March 22nd 2015, 02:40 AM

Hey there.

First of all, congrats on being free for so long! That's definitely an achievement, and you should be proud.

Dealing with triggers is one of the most difficult things someone recovering from self-harm has to do, especially when those triggers can't always be avoided. I'm going to share a few tips that have worked for me, which you're welcome to try or not as you choose.

As some of the others have said, positive self-talk is very important. Maybe you could develop some kind of self-affirming mantra, like 'I'm worth more than this' or 'I am a good, strong person and I can do this', something you can repeat to yourself when you do feel triggered. You could also develop a mental 'safe place' where you can go when you're faced with triggers. For example you could imagine yourself on a beach, or in a secluded cabin, or in the middle of a busy city - whatever helps you feel calm and grounded. This one might be a little less general, but I like reciting things when I get stressed or when my mind gets stuck on the idea of self-harm. Sometimes it's poems, or states and capitals, or digits of pi - anything that helps keep my mind focussed on something non-destructive.

Another thing that's helped me is to realise that sometimes it doesn't have to be an active fight. Sometimes if you're deliberately fighting a particular urge or thought, you can actually give it more power over you. So instead, I like to just let it float by me. For example if I see someone with visible self harm scars, I used to focus on them and then have to actively direct my thoughts away from it, but now I just think 'huh' and let my thoughts and gaze drift away from it. I'm not sure I explained this well, so let me know if you need further explanation.

If you can identify your triggers, you might be able to desensitise yourself to them through progressively exposing yourself to them. I would recommend extreme caution with this, however, as you need to be very aware of your limits and have a safety action plan in place. But if you're triggered by certain things you can deliberately expose yourself to them when you're feeling calm and focussed, and through that repeated exposure you might become more used to them. That said, this method may not work for everyone, so if you feel unsafe or even more triggered then please direct your attention elsewhere and do what you need to do in order to keep yourself safe.

Another thing I've found helpful is to talk about your triggers. If you actively acknowledge them instead of hiding them, they become less taboo and something you can more easily deal with. You could discuss them with a trusted friend, a counsellor, or even with us on here. That's another way to gradually build up your tolerance, and you can end the conversation at any time if it makes you more triggered or uncomfortable.

And in answer to your question, in my experience: yes. However it's a bit more complicated than that. I've found that I've been triggered less often, but when I am triggered it tends to be more intense than it was when I was actively self-harming. But the good news is that they're also easier to deal with, in a way, as I've been working on my coping mechanisms. So as long as you commit yourself to recovery and remember that you're a strong, determined person, you can definitely overcome this.

I hope this helped a bit. Take care, okay? And feel free to reply to this thread or start a new one if you need.

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Re: Dealing with triggers - March 31st 2015, 12:08 PM

Thank you all so much!!!
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