You’re divorced for a reason, so it’s inevitable that your former spouse will trigger you at some point. One of the biggest things divorcees want is peace, but how do you remain calm and not escalate the situation even further? Give these 5 simple tips to stop being triggered by your ex a try.
- Take deep breaths. It seems like such a simple task- breathing- but when you’re in an anxious state, that task can seem incredibly daunting. When all you’re seeing is red when it comes to your ex, those deep breaths are even more important because they help clear the fog so you can think clearly and not react from a place of anger. Visualize your breath going in and out of your body. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Pay attention to your heart rate as you do this. Feel it slowly coming down. Take five deep breaths then sit in stillness for a few moments before you react any further. Hopefully, your anger and anxiety have dissipated at this point and you can respond in a calm, mature manner.
- Text a friend- not your ex. When your ex has riled you up, the first thing you probably want to do is respond back in the same way. You might end up saying things you’ll regret later, so instead of venting to your ex, vent to a friend! Oftentimes, just saying how we feel is enough to settle our anger so we can respond in a better way to the person who triggered us. Remember, if you wouldn’t text it to your lawyer or a judge, don’t text it to your ex! Text a trusted friend or family member instead. If you have a divorce coach, you can even text or email them!
- Wait 24 hours to respond. Most of the time, whatever our ex is asking us doesn’t need to be addressed immediately. If you have the time to wait for your response, take advantage of that. What initially triggers us may not seem as bad the next day. You can even write out what you want to say in an email or text draft, but not send it right away. Go back and reread it the next day and see if that’s still how you feel. If you think it’s worth sending at that point, then do it.
- Distract yourself. A divorce can be all-consuming at times. It’s important to give your mind, body, and soul some time to escape all the stress it’s causing. Go do something you enjoy when your ex triggers you. Spend time with friends, read a good book, go for a hike, visit your favorite coffee shop- even just an hour or two away from divorce stress is enough to reset yourself so you can deal with your ex without getting triggered again.
- Practice the 5-4-3-2-1 method. When your ex has you in such a state of anxiety that you can even think straight, try practicing the 5-4-3-2-1 method. This method, in combination with deep breathing, helps ground you and returns you to a calmer state.
- 5: Acknowledge five things you can see
- 4: Acknowledge four things you can touch
- 3: Acknowledge three things you can hear
- 2: Acknowledge two things you can smell
- 1: Acknowledge one thing you can taste
If these methods don’t seem to be helping enough, it may be time to seek the advice of a divorce coach and/or therapist. Divorce is hard and dealing with your ex- a person you thought you’d spend forever with but who has now become a stranger- is not an easy thing. It’s completely normal to feel triggered by them and to need a little help learning how to cope with your new circumstances.