“Trauma dumping”: caution with confidences

«Trauma dumping

Have you ever felt uncomfortable, suffocated, stressed by someone who took you hostage in a conversation to pour out their traumas on you without letting you say a word? ? You may have been a victim of trauma dumping. But what is this practice and, above all, how to avoid it?

Imagine holding a glass containing a hot liquid. You feel the need to share it, because it burns your hands. So you pick someone at random anytime, anywhere and pour your liquid into their glass without letting them tell you they don't want it. The person is afterwards taken with this hot liquid without the possibility of absorbing it well. 

It's a bit like trauma dumping. To make it even clearer, here is the definition of psychologist Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier: “trauma dumpingit is to share intense emotional, traumatic content, in inappropriate times or places, without having had the permission of the other”. 

She specifies that certain content (stories of abuse, violence, death, aggression, etc.) can be too loaded. Some people do not have the interest or the capacity to receive them and feel overwhelmed if they are shared without their consent. 

How to avoid it? 

To avoid trauma dumping, we must make sure that our interlocutor is ready to hear what we have to share. We first make sure that the context is good: not too many people around, time and space to discuss. If the content is traumatic, we can warn him, ask his agreement to talk about something difficult. We also make sure that we have chosen the right person: is it a close friend or a simple colleague? Has anyone confided in him yet? How did he react? What do we know about his past, his weaknesses, his own traumas?

Once the interaction has begun, the psychologist emphasizes the importance of leaving room for the other, observe his reactions, ask him how he receives this information, let him speak. 

“If we don't do that, we are dumping, that is to say that we are not interested in having the point of view of the other, we just need a container in which to pour what weighs us down”, indicates the psychologist. And the consequence is very likely to be the estrangement of people who will not want to hear such confidences, she warns.  

Work on yourself 

Unfortunately, people who practice trauma dumpingusually don't realize it. “You have to realize that we tend to do that,” recommends Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier. She continues: “If we see that we have the reflex to do it in several relationships, it is perhaps a sign that we should go to a doctor and thus do our dumping in the presence of a professional who will be able to help. The psychologist especially believes that our emotions must be processed and reflected rather than simply poured out, in what amounts to only complaining. 

For the person who receives these complaints too there is work to do, especially if you tend to find yourself in this kind of situation often. You have to be aware of it and set your limits. And if we can't, we have to ask ourselves why. By desire to please? For fear of being rejected? Exploring these reasons will strengthen her ability to establish her limits, believes Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier. 

The psychologist concludes by saying that if you want to maintain the relationship with the person, it is better to name your limits, expressing discomfort or inability to receive. If you don't care about the relationship, you can simply limit the opportunities for interaction.

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