Healing emotional trauma

7 Tips to Rescue Yourself When No One’s Around

If you’ve recently ended a toxic relationship, learning to self-soothe is one of the primary steps to rebuilding your life and self-esteem.

You may already understand the importance of taking care of yourself after being the target of abuse.  Perhaps you’ve even started a healing regimen, complete with guided meditations and energy healing.

But, in the path to recovery, trauma triggers happen.  Sometimes these triggers happen because of something you’re deliberately doing, like checking out the Ex’s Facebook page or driving past their house.

If you’re doing those things, you’ll want to stop.  Obviously.

But, sometimes trauma triggers happen that are absolutely out of your control.  Maybe the Ex sends an email from a new account.  Or, perhaps you think you see them in traffic.  Worse, the Ex approaches you while you’re visiting your favorite coffee shop.

Suddenly, you’re triggered and your best friend isn’t available for a phone call.  Or, it’s 1:00 a.m. in the morning and you see a text that was sent from your Ex who figured out they could use a different number to contact you – and you have no one to reach out to.

What do you do?

Following are seven ways to rescue yourself when you get triggered or are feeling especially blue – and there’s no one around:

(read below or watch the video here)


1 – Calm your fear circuits with deep breathing

Although this tip may seem ridiculously mundane, the truth is IT WORKS.  When you feel triggered, stop what you’re doing, take six to ten deep, long breaths. Inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four.  Imagine that you’re inhaling white, healing light and exhaling fear and trauma.

This kind of deep breathing triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to relieve stress and shut down the fight-or-flight response.   Additionally, when we breathe deeply, we oxygenate the blood, which causes our brain to release endorphins. These endorphins help reduce stress in the body and decrease levels of pain, both emotional and physical.

2 – Lie down and listen to a guided meditation

Guided meditations help you relax while focusing on pleasant, positive images and affirmations to replace any negative, limiting thoughts. They’re also a super-easy way of achieving mindfulness, because they help you visualize a calming environment and reach a soothed emotional state, rather than letting your mind go to internal chatter that is stressful.

Make sure you are in a place where you can relax comfortably and use earbuds or headphones for maximum effect.  Keep in mind that guided meditations are different from the popular Zen meditation where you sit quietly and focus on being.  Generally, Zen meditations won’t help in the midst of a trauma trigger.

3 – Be gentle and patient with yourself

Recognize that your overwhelming feelings have less to do with your Ex and more to do with feelings that have been living inside of you over the period of the abusive relationship. Your trigger just reminded you they were there.  Once you embrace this, you can get to the root of true self-acceptance and recovery.  You don’t have to know exactly how this will happen in the moment, just keep taking baby steps in your healing journey. 

4 – Cut down excess sources of audio-visual stimuli

Survivors of narcissistic and emotional abuse are often Highly Sensitive People (HSPs).  Add that to the fact that you may be experiencing elements of PTSD due to your toxic relationship and any excess noise or activity can make you feel much worse.  Sometimes, without your even being aware of it.

To avoid stark feelings of loneliness, abuse survivors often leave the T.V. on while also browsing the internet on their phone or laptop and may leave other sources of background activity running. 

The last thing you need during a trauma trigger is several sources of noise and visuals blaring at you.  If you experience a trigger, go outside and take some deep breaths, then go back inside and turn off most of your electronics. 

5 – Create a coping toolbox for times when you feel anxious, panicky, or triggered  

Your coping toolbox might include any of the following items:

  • Self-loving affirmations
  • A stress ball or squishy (here’s a picture of mine)


  • A super-soft blanket
  • A favorite guided meditation
  • Open a window and listen to the sounds of nature
  • Healing crystals
  • A bar of your favorite chocolate
  • A favorite romantic comedy
  • Or, any that are included in the Beginner’s Healing Toolbox below.

6 – Don’t give in to wild urges you may have in a moment of panic or triggering

Part of your healing journey should include self-control exercises and managing your emotions.  Don’t act, try to sit with triggers until they pass.  For example, when you feel triggered – such as after discovering more deception after leaving a toxic relationship – how do you handle it?

A:  Blow up their cell phone with nasty messages, send them an email from Hell, get in your car and speed to their house or place of employment to confront them, and/or burn a pile of their belongings in your back yard?


B:  You feel upset and betrayed but choose not to engage in drama.  You write the incident in your journal and document the event in case you need to refer to it later.  You realize that trying to get a sincere apology or trying to control events to make the Ex not be a liar is a waste of your precious time (and health).  You choose a self-soothing activity and remind yourself that you have done nothing wrong, so there’s no need to feel bad about the bad choices of another person or internalize the event as meaning you are lacking as an individual.

You’ll definitely want to go with option B.  Option A will leave you feeling angry with yourself and less in control of the situation.  It will also keep you entangled with the person you want to be free from.  Although ‘A’ will feel extremely good in the moment, once you recognize that you acted out of character, you may feel negative feelings toward yourself later.

7 – Recognize that you’ve been triggered

Perhaps it seems silly to say to yourself, “This thing triggered me and now I feel this way.” However, your brain needs to hear you say it. You must remind your brain that where you are now is more important than where you were then.  Take an inventory of your surroundings and remind yourself that you are safe.  Your life is not in danger, and your Ex is no longer a part of your life. 

If you happen to be out in public and the Ex approaches you unexpectedly, walk hurriedly in the opposite direction, get in your car, and drive to the local police station in the event they follow you.  This should put to rest any agendas they may have for stalking and hoovering.  Then, practice the coping exercises in this article.

Copyright 2018.  Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach

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  1. Jerry H.

    Thank you Kim. I recently worked my way through one of these when my ex sent me a text from a strange number. I know it is her just by the style of wording and how things were said. I caught myself wanting to write her a nasty reply ( which I did but did not send it ) but instead, I did write it but let it sit on my dresser overnight, and then tore it up the next morning after cooling off. When I have one of these attacks, I get on the internet and put on my headphones with a fav. concert, and enjoy my freedom of doing whatever I like. This distracts me from what I have just received. I also blocked that number on my phone. I BLOCK ALL strange numbers that pop up on my phone. God bless.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Bravo, Jerry! Looks like you have everything under control. Great job on working through the triggers and writing things down instead of replying. Virtually high-fiving you 🙂

      Wishing you all the best as you continue to heal.


  2. Melanie

    Thank you Kim. Your articles are always a great reminder of what works best to get through this. Thank you.

  3. Your the best Kim.
    Your work on this subject is superb.
    I do get triggers from the most stupid things.
    Deep breathing, praying, walking, dancing, affirmations have been helping me. I had to unsubscribe from some narc video blogs too!
    I am trusting my gut feeling better. Anytime I feel I am being disrespected or put down, I disengage. I journal about it instead of going off on the person. Afterwards I smile. I now know for sure this person is a fake and a hypocrite. I don’t need another idiot in my life.

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  7. Kimberly

    You have brought me such piece of mind. I knew something was so twisted about the man I’m currently with and I did so much research trying to figure out what was causing him to be the way he was. Then I came across the word narcissist and I have to tell you I completely cried because there it was in black and white right before me it was him word for word the perfect description everything was right then and now I have validation that I wasn’t crazy it wasn’t my fault he in fact is a horrible person and is intentionally doing these things to me and I wasnt imagining this. I’m currently still living with him and have no idea how I’m ever going to get out I’ve got nowhere to go and no one to help me no Financial backing and no money saved I’ve been stuck for 10 years and I see no light at the end of my tongue there’s only one way out of this house and I believe that suicide and I haven’t gotten to that point yet but I think about it everyday thank you for your articles my favorite one was the one word it helped us explain to her friends and family what we’ve been going through that’s my favorite one thank you for your articles they get me through my days

    1. Invisiblonde

      I don’t know if your situation is still the same as it was when you posted this; I sure do hope not.

      I, too, am trapped in a long-term nightmare with a Cluster B-disordered man (he is an almost-textbook Borderline with, additionally, strong Narcissistic tendencies); I am completely estranged from all family; I have no friends; and I have no financial resources.

      I, too, sit here most days thinking of a line from a post I read: “There were times when I thought it would be easier to kill myself than to find a way to make the relationship end.”

      Something that has been indescribably helpful to me is a site I just happened on about a year ago:


      I know I am just a faceless entity, but I DO feel your pain. Being all alone in the world is sickening, but it also means that you literally have nobody but yourself to accommodate or please.

      Here’s a thing that keeps me going: I have already given him essentially every bit of who I used to be, and even all that is not enough.

      Why do I think that literally sacrificing my life for him WILL be?

  8. anu

    What do you do when they’re stalking you– violating a five year felony domestic violence related order of protection, and doing so with the help of one of the women he cheated on you with? And the police have little to no evidence…some wanting to helo, but feeling as if their hands are tied, and others berate you and treat you as if you are crazy or lying or on drugs? I am in an almost constant state of high alert. I moved my son and I to a totally different town to hopefully be safe. I believe he and his little helper will not stop until I am no more. The humiliation of how I’ve been treated by the police also adds to my fear. Last time the officers responded ti my call I was told “Hmm… Let’s see…you’ve only been in town a month and a half. You’ve called five times….Isn’t it strange ti you thar NO ONE ELSE HAS SEEN OR HEARD ANYTHING?” And that was a woman cop. Her delivery of comments and sneer of contempt left me with a sense that she was not at all a safe person, and that Mt OWN ‘freedom’ might be threatened via some protocol not regularly discussed. I don’t know if a person can be locked up like that, but she made me FEEL like it. I’ve never been a liar. I’ve never been prone to hallucinations, visual or auditory, and I’m almost 50. What do you do when you have no one?

    1. Kim Saeed

      Anu, your situation is a sad, but common one. The only advice I can offer here would be to install a security camera on your home, document everything, and/or hire a private investigator. Those are just practical suggestions to help with the stalking. Regarding healing and moving forward from your experiences, that is a process which would take time and a daily commitment to yourself.


  9. Dawn Davis

    These letters have helped me. I had been in a narcissist emotional abuse relationship for 17 years. I went no contact by blocking everything .He has another woman in our house. I am sick with sadness. Every week since 3 weeks no contact, he finds a way to upset me. He sends nasty texts from a number I don’t know. Sent a nude woman’s pic to me on my Pinterest . Calls me a skank. I have never been with anyone but him. Tells me to never speak to him, which I don’t then messages me from someone’s phone. My life is a mess. I feel so sad because I loved this man with all my heart. He is always on dating sites and porn . He is a miserable 61 year old man, never happy. Nothing ever pleases him. Treated me like a maid. Now he is happy with his new woman. How can one man go from one woman to another. It’s sickening . Please pray I get over this Thank you Dawn

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Dawn, thank you for commenting and I am sorry to learn of your situation. It’s definitely hard. It will be a journey to get through this, but it would make it much easier if you could make sure he cannot contact you. I recommend to clients whose abusive Exes use different numbers to contact them to change their number – as many times as it takes. I have had to change my cell phone number a few times, even though I use it for work. I also changed my email address and completely deleted the old one. Hope that helps.

      Best wishes – Kim

      1. Smlk

        Kim , I have done the same. Changed my number once again and never gave it to him ! He begged me to ( when he d show up at my work
        Place and at home. But I refused to give it to
        Him ! The last thing i d want to see my phone blasting with his calls

  10. SJ

    Very good article and advice! I’m going to printed out and implement many of your suggestions.

  11. Rebecca

    I love all of your posts. They are powerful and resonate strongly with what’s happening in my life right now. I will laminate these reminders , as I still feel triggered every single day wanting to talk or see him one last time, only to feel hurt once again. Never ending cycle! But I am determined to STOP IT!!! xo

    Thank you Kim!

    1. Kim Saeed

      You’re welcome, Rebecca. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you!


  12. Tracey

    I meant Kim of course!
    I did read your book how to do no contact like a boss and it’s awesome I read it about 5 times already!

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you, Tracey! I’m so happy to know my book has helped you. Wishing you all the very best in your healing 🙂


      1. Jane

        How can u do no contact when your x sends messages that somebody has shot themselves or had wreck broke leg heartattavk

        1. Kim Saeed

          Hi Jane, The best way to handle it would be to contact someone else who knows the person who has been hurt…but not your Ex. Hope that helps! Kim

  13. Tracey

    Thank you Jim.
    This is so helpful and I passed it on to a friend.
    It’s important to have a tool kit a list like yours because we get so much information from so many sources it’s good to have so much info in one place

    1. Kim Saeed

      Yay! 🙂 Thank you for your encouraging input, Tracey!

  14. Robin Wessel

    I can’t buy your books, as i walked out with no job or any means of support yet. But these newsletters are helping me. I read 10yrs. To figure out. Another 10 yrs. To heal maybe thoughts of suicide. Oh no not this girl i gave enough i love me too much now. And i use vortex for mediation. THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME. I KNOW NOW I AM WORTH IT..

    1. Tracey

      I was left the same way I lost my job health insurance got behind on my bills on and on and on 4 months but I’m getting better now I’m working part time and getting back on track you will get there too I will keep you and all of you here in my prayers

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