Tips to Stop Trauma Dumping | Banyan Mental Health
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How To Stop Trauma Dumping


Also referred to as emotional dumping, trauma dumping is when a person shares traumatic details or events without the other person’s consent. When it comes to the trauma dumper and the listener, the listener may not have agreed to have the conversation, is being kept in the conversation against their wishes, or is never able to get a word in. While trauma is devastating, and talking about it with others can be an effective way to cope, boundaries must be established and respected. If you recognize that you’ve been an emotional dumper with those close to you, here’s how to stop trauma dumping.

Tips to Stop Trauma Dumping

Understanding the difference between venting vs. emotional dumping is important. While venting is a healthy way to share negative emotions and reduce stress, trauma dumping is a form of oversharing that makes the listener feel overwhelmed or ignored. A common trauma dump example is when a person randomly shares something negative and personal while at lunch with coworkers, making them uncomfortable and catching them off guard.

If you notice that you’re guilty of doing this, below are some ways to stop trauma dumping that can improve your relationships and how you respond to trauma.

Keep a journal

Ah, yes, journaling. If you’ve ever sought out or researched tips for improving your mental health, then you’ve likely read about journaling. While it may seem like a basic tip, we strongly stand by this technique for coping with mental health.

Keeping a journal allows you to put all your thoughts onto paper in a private way. Oftentimes, we don’t realize the severity of an experience we’ve gone through or how private a thought really is until we write it down and read it back to ourselves. Journaling can teach you how to stop trauma bonding and possibly reveal the severity of what you’ve experienced, which may encourage you to seek out professional trauma treatment.

Engage in some form of physical activity

Exercise and staying active releases endorphins and improves your mood. It also gives you time to think on your own and alleviates stress. Although it’s fine to exercise with friends, since you’re learning how to stop trauma dumping, we recommend exercising alone to give yourself the time to think and process your thoughts privately.

Do something creative

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be the most artistically inclined person, tapping into your creativity by doing things like painting, sketching, sculpting, scrapbooking, or woodburning, can help you alleviate stress and give you something to concentrate on other than trauma. Art therapy is so effective for better understanding and processing emotions that our Banyan facilities for mental health use it in patients’ treatment plans.

Listen to music

Similar to exercising or making art, listening to music can also help us cope with our emotions. Music can reduce stress and give you a mental escape. In moments when you feel emotionally out of control, pull up your favorite song or playlist and give yourself some time to calm down.

Talk to a therapist

A common theme among people who trauma dump is treating friends like their therapists. However, this can place a serious strain on your relationship. Trauma dumping doesn’t consider the listener, and people who trauma dump tend to not ask for the listener’s opinion or never give them a chance to speak.

Oftentimes, people who trauma dump want the focus of the conversation to be solely on them and aren’t necessarily open to solutions to their problems, but rather just the opportunity to talk. Again, while venting is okay and healthy, trauma dumping doesn’t ask for the listener’s permission, nor does it care about the listener’s feelings or thoughts at all. As you can imagine, this can put a serious strain on a relationship.

An effective way to stop trauma dumping in a relationship is to see a real therapist. These individuals are educated and trained to help their clients through various traumatic experiences and mental health problems. Turning to a professional makes it less likely that you’ll emotionally dump on your friends and places you in the hands of someone trained to actually help you recover from the trauma you’ve experienced.

How to Respond to Trauma Dumping

If there’s someone in your life who trauma dumps on you, it may be time to set some boundaries. Unfortunately, many trauma-dumping victims are patient, kind, and compassionate, which can make it difficult to set these boundaries, as they may not want to offend the other person. The person seeking support through trauma bonding, however, may purposely seek out someone with these qualities because they’re less likely to reject or criticize the individual.

However, everyone has a threshold for how much they can handle. Considering that trauma dumpers don’t want advice or any response that could actually help them cope, hearing the same stories can take its toll on the listener over time. In fact, being on the receiving end of trauma can contribute to what’s known as secondary trauma.

If you’re reaching your limits for someone who is trauma dumping, try these tips:

  • Place a time limit on the conversation: Setting an early expectation for a quick conversation is a great way to prevent trauma dumping before it begins. It can be something as simple as, “I’m on my way home, so I only have 10 minutes to talk,” or “Hey! I only have a few minutes. What’s up?” This way, the individual is less likely to be shocked or offended when you cut the conversation short.
  • Try shifting the conversation in a different direction: Another way to respond to trauma dumping is to change the topic. To do so, interject with a light-hearted comment like, “I’m sorry, that stinks,” before changing the topic of the conversation. While this won’t always work, this approach can be a great way to pivot away from the trauma before the person has a chance to dive in.
  • Their problems aren’t your problems: While this might sound harsh, in situations where the individual trauma dumps excessively, it’s important to remember not to pick up their problems like they’re your own. Instead of offering solutions that they continuously deny, ask them what they plan on doing to fix the situation. This puts the ball in their court and encourages them to do something about their trauma.
  • Be direct and tell them how you feel: When the more subtle tactics fail, honesty is the best policy. Explain to the person how you’re being affected by what they’re saying, or let them know that you’re feeling stressed. While this could be uncomfortable and possibly upset them, it reminds the other person that you have feelings, too, which can prevent them in the future from making all conversations about themselves.
  • Be honest about what you can’t do: Trauma dumping is draining, and sometimes it’s necessary to be upfront about what you can’t do for the person. Don’t be afraid to tell them that you aren’t sure how to respond to their situation or that you don’t have an answer for them. You can even encourage them to seek professional mental health treatment. Remind them that you’re not a professional.
  • If that doesn’t work, distance yourself: People who overshare tend to have nonexistent or very thin boundaries. This makes it less likely that they’ll consider your boundaries, making trauma dumping more likely. When you’ve tried to set boundaries and express how you feel, and it doesn’t work, you should distance yourself from the person. Otherwise, they’re likely to keep at this behavior until you reach a breaking point.

Trauma Dumping Treatment at Banyan

Trauma dumping is a repeated pattern of dumping your problems in ways that transfer the trauma and distress to the listener. Trauma dumpers tend to keep the focus on themselves, neglecting the listener’s comfort, advice, and boundaries. Over time, this can impact an individual’s relationships as well as the listener’s mental health.

If you or someone you care about has been impacted by trauma and needs help, we’re here for you. Our adult mental health services include PTSD treatment alongside a variety of other therapy programs utilized to address trauma and help clients learn how to cope with their symptoms.

For more information about our mental illness treatment, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 or send us your contact information.

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Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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