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The Recovery Expert
with Sharie Stines, Psy.D.

Going No Contact

Going no contact is a self protective measure, indicated when you need to break free from involvement with someone because of a divorce, recovery from a trauma bond, or release from a toxic relationship. Going no contact is a tool that helps you heal a broken heart without continuously preventing the reparation of wounds caused by involvement with the other person. It helps you grieve  a loss and break your addiction to a person.

Going no contact is an excellent approach to take the focus off the other person and only focusing on yourself and your own well-being.

You hear this term often with respect to narcissism and narcissistic relationships.  At some point in a relationship with a narcissist or otherwise emotionally abusive person, you realize why going no contact is indicated. Once you stop engaging with the insanity of the toxic person, your head starts to clear and you begin to feel relief.

When you are involved in a toxic relationship it is easy to become emotionally damaged. The toxic person in your life, “knows your number;” that is, he/she knows “how you tick” and what “buttons to push” to get a reaction out of you. It is very difficult to remain in contact with a dysfunctional person who has the “inside scoop” on your mind without letting their toxicity affect you.

Usually the no contact approach is the tactic of last resort. Most people in unhealthy relationships are very resistant to going no contact. There are many reasons for this. The main one is that toxic relationships tend to be addictive. The hook in a toxic relationship is that the target feels compelled to “one day get it right” or fix it. The target stays hooked in the toxic relationship because of the feelings it engenders – guilt, obligation, hope, need, confusion, etc.

What does going no-contact entail?

  • Setting internal boundaries. Do not let your toxic loved one invade your mind. Stop thinking about him or her, your interactions, how to fix things, feelings about him or her. If your mind starts wandering to fantasies about what you wish was happening in your relationship, stop them and think about something, anything else. Going no contact is not just a physical exercise. It is also a mental one.
  • Blocking the other person from all social media, phones, email accounts, etc. Do not let the toxic person have access to you in any way, shape, or form.
  • Avoiding others who are in contact with this person. Triangulation is common in unhealthy unions.  Your curiosity may get the best of you when speaking with a friend of your ex. This is a set-up for connection.  The point of no contact is to break all avenues of connection. It is far easier for you to stick to the no contact rule if you AVOID TALKING ABOUT THE PERSON.
  • Grieving the emotional part of the relationship to the point where the person is a “non-issue.” Toxic relationships often result in trauma bonds. If you have a person in your life who is inconsistent with love, caring, and affection, you may have developed a trauma bond with this person.  Grieving will help you break this bond. It is important to “complete your grief.” You can do this by writing down your feelings regarding the good and bad parts of the relationship. Write down what you love and miss about this person, as well as what you hated about this relationship. If you can grieve both the good and the bad parts  of t his person, you can let them go so they don’t have a grip on you any more. This will help you move on.
  • Taking your power back from the toxic person. Toxic people tend to be very manipulative. They seem to effortlessly know just how to over power their victims. If you have given any part of yourself to the toxic person, make a conscious decision to take yourself back. Do not let this person define you, cause you to feel guilty or obligated, or in any way influence who you are or what decisions you make.
  • Not engaging in any emotions regarding the other person. Detach emotionally. Make a decision to control your emotions with respect to this relationship. If the toxic person causes you to feel angry, sad, hopeful, or hurt, stop. You do this by noticing what’s going on; talking to yourself internally, reminding yourself that you are not going to invest emotional energy in to this relationship any more. Walk away – both actually and figuratively.
  • Letting go of the relationship and not being attached any more. Visually imagine yourself unhooking yourself from the entanglement of involvement with this person. Picture yourself leaving the “playground” where the toxic person is playing and driving away to a different play ground; one with different toys and different people. Picture yourself holding your hands open, releasing this loved one. Set both him/her and yourself free.
  • Moving on with your life. Look forward to what works in your life. Do not look back at the good (or even bad) parts of this relationship. Spend your time and energy on the here and now and on the relationships that are healthy and enjoyable. STOP TRYING TO FIX WHAT DOESN’T WORK.

Understand that going no-contact is the same as becoming sober or abstinent from a drug. It takes work. You will experience detox and withdrawal phases, just as a drug addict does when he stops taking his drug of choice. But, after about a month you will notice all symptoms subsiding. Give it time and encourage yourself that no contact = self love.

 

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Going No Contact


APA Reference
Stines, S. (2019). Going No Contact. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2019/06/going-no-contact/