For those of us with a history of disordered eating or who struggle with body image, triggers are everywhere we look. From the weight loss billboard featuring an emaciated looking model to the frozen french fries ads that describe their product as “guilt free”, it’s easy to get pulled into a negative place. Those are expected triggers. Triggers that unfortunately, have become commonplace that we learn to tune out to an extent. But what happens when you meet / start spending time with someone new who (unknowingly) tends to trigger pre-recovery feelings that you’ve been working to move past? What do you do?
Not Everyone Will Understand Your Triggers Because,
Your past is not plastered across your face. When you meet someone new, it’s a clean slate. A relationship with a fresh start. He or she has no idea what you’ve been through or experienced up until this point and so he or she will not be aware of what is triggering to you. What one person construes as nerve wracking or upsetting is not true for someone else, so give your new friend / significant other / etc the benefit of the doubt.
That being said, if someone is speaking to you or behaving in a manner that you believe is truly offensive and nobody would or should be okay with, that’s probably not someone you want to keep around. But when it comes to comments about appearance, food, etc. keep in mind that people who have not personally experienced an eating disorder will not understand how those comments or actions are upsetting. At this point, you have two options as far as how to proceed if you want to keep spending time with this person and not put your mental health / progress at risk.
Two Ways To Minimize Triggering Content
1). Speak Up
Of course you always have the option of explaining to your new friend that his or her comment / behavior brought up some unsettling emotions for you based on your history with an eating disorder, disordered eating, however you want to phrase it. If you feel comfortable enough with the person to be honest about this part of your past, then go for it! Most people will respect you for being straightforward and take your words seriously so that they do not offend you in the future. But because conversations like this can get a bit awkward, and not everyone is ready to lead with their baggage, there’s another option.
2). Frame It In Context
This is what I do, pretty much all the time. And it’s really saved me from going to a dark place mentally when one of my triggers pops up from a new friend or date. I frame the comment or behavior in content. For example, I don’t enjoy having my body complimented. I know my body is beautiful, finally after a long time. But it’s beautiful for me. It’s triggering for me to have anyone imply that my body is somehow for them, or benefiting them. But instead of allowing myself to become triggered when someone made a comment about my body last week, I took a deep breath and considered the context. I walked myself through it in my head.
“He is paying you a compliment to make you feel good about yourself not to make you feel like your self worth is tied to your appearance. Consider the source.”
It truly helps to frame the context of who is doing the action / making the comment and why. Chances are they have no intention of making you feel poorly. Chances are they are trying to be kind or helpful. So if you can keep that in mind and remember that one person’s actions cannot make you feel lesser about yourself unless you let them, you can take everything in strides and reduce triggers all together
Want Exclusive Videos?
Subscribe to our mailing list to unlock 10 VIP videos!