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24 Sep 2017


By Gracie Carroll

How to Respond When You’re Triggered by Something on Social Media

By Jen Kirsch

how to deal with social media triggers 2

You know when you watch someone’s Instagram story or see something online that you wish you hadn’t? Or maybe, knowingly searched for something because you couldn’t resist, even though you and I both know that nothing good ever comes of that?

There are so many situations that can occur that can trigger you unexpectedly too. It might be realizing you weren’t included in a girls night, or weren’t invited to something you wish you were. You might see that your ex has moved on, or that your frenemy just had another work triumph. Triggers arise making your body and mind respond both physically and mentally, respectively. They immediately make you feel ‘less than,’ and likely bring up a slew of negative emotions.

But it’s essential to remember, and know down to your core, that these negative thoughts and feelings will pass, if only you let them. That our minds and bodies have the ability to overreact, sensationalize and take things personally, when really they have nothing to do with us. And so, next time you’re triggered by something you see on social, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind so you don’t react in a way that will do more harm than good, especially to yourself.

Here are some of the Do’s & Don’ts for how to respond when you’re triggered by something on social media:

Close Your Phone/Laptop:

Don’t re-watch the Insta story. Don’t check out the hashtag, or go down the rabbit hole of looking for more pictures or videos of whatever it is that triggered you. Don’t take a screen grab, only for you to obsess about it later either on your own or with others. Instead, take control by removing yourself from the situation. Close your phone. Close your laptop. Put whatever device it is that you’re using away and simply breathe. Take a moment to identify what’s really going on. (more on that in the next point)

Identify Your Trigger:

Are you feeling jealous? Not good enough? Like a failure? Rage? Identify what emotion you’re dealing with, then assess what you’re telling yourself in your head that’s making you feel this way. Once the perceived storyline is clear in your head, ask yourself ‘Is this true?’ We tend to sensationalize things and make them about us when they have nothing to do with us. Focus on what’s ailing your mind.

Don’t Create Posts While Under The Influence of a Trigger:

When we feel wounded, we instinctively want to prove to ourselves and others just how “unwounded” we are. And so we create a post with impure intentions and it usually comes off as just that.

Refrain from Passive-Aggressive Posts: 

If your intention is to let someone in particular know how you feel about a specific situation, reach out to them directly, after your initial negative feelings pass. We need to do a better job at communicating our feelings with each other, within reason. If it’s an ex who moved on, see this as the best thing for you both and move forward without trying to get their attention. If you want to ‘show something off’ like who you’re with, all tailored so a particular person will see it, that’s a good time to look at your life and your actions and make some changes. Why are you doing this? What do you get out of it? Wouldn’t it be easier to talk to someone about something then try to throw something in their face?

Don’t Underestimate The Power of The Block Button:

Again, this is all about taking control so you don’t end up feeling helpless. If a certain persons social media updates continue to trigger you and take you through an emotional downward spiral, remove them from your feeds. You may think it’s petty but it’s the best move you can make to benefit your own livelihood.

Don’t Send a Threatening DM:

A girlfriend of mine recently showed me a slew of DM’s she received from her new mans ex. This is a bad look on the ex and is bullying at its finest. Accept that your ex has moved on and use this as motivation to be your best self and to move forward as well. And keep in mind, messaging your ex’s new lady out of jealousy ends up working in the opposite way you’d like it to. It makes you come off as ‘the crazy ex,’ and will likely only bring your ex and the new girl closer together as they navigate through these emotions and the situation.

Be Aware and Trust Your Gut:

If you keep seeing your partner liking other women’s posts and that bothers you, or you find the need to ask him to show you his phone all the time or see his DMs, ask yourself what’s really going on. Do you not trust your partner because you’ve been hurt in the past? Are you trying to self-sabotage? Or do you think he’s not as committed to your relationship as you are? Instead of reacting when you see him on his phone, share with him where your lack of trust stems from and talk about it openly. And always, always trust your gut.



(Story by Contributing Editor, Jen Kirsch)

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