When we experience a traumatic event, it leaves a lasting impression of psychological effects. Many individuals struggle to cope with the memories, emotions, and thoughts associated with the event. If we are direct victims in the traumatic incident, we may come away from the event with a victim mentality that is accompanied by shame.
A victimization mentality includes how individuals deal with the stress of being victimized by something beyond their control. There is, however, a way that we can overcome this victim mentality so that it does not affect other aspects of our life. In this blog we discuss how we may still be falling into the mentality of victimization and share different ways that we can learn to rescue ourselves from this mentality.
What exactly is victimization? It is the process of being victimized either from a physical or a psychological event. This mentally includes how people may deal with the stress of being victimized by something out of their control. Some examples of victimized events include robbery, assault, an accident, a sudden death of someone close to you, and substance abuse disorder.
What are the signs of victimization? Some of the signs and symptoms include stress, shock, numbness, helplessness, vulnerability, disorientation, anger, fear, frustration, confusion, guilt, grief, and many more.
Shame is often accompanied by the feeling of victimization. It could be shame around what may have happened, or shame from not stopping the event from taking place. Often individuals blame themselves for what occurred during the traumatic event and this can lead to self-shaming. Self-shaming is often seen in those who experience substance abuse disorder.
How does victimization affect us? Due to the accompanied negative feelings associated with victimization, we may become more anxious when attempting to complete a relatively easy task throughout the day. Leaving the house, going grocery shopping, or visiting a friend may become more difficult than it was in the past. Experiencing occasional anxiety is nothing to worry about, but if we find we are experiencing it more often, especially for daily tasks and everyday situations, it can negatively affect how we operate in our lives – and may even lead to panic attacks.
How can we overcome victimization and not let it take control of our life? Speaking to a professional is considered the best course of action when dealing with feelings of victimization, shame, and anxiety. Counselling is a great way for individuals to share their story in a non-judgemental space. The first step towards recover occurs when we have a trusted individual that can listen to our experience and with whom we can share our feelings.
It can take more than one session to fully come to terms with what has taken place, but seeing a professional throughout your life can make you feel grounded and more in-touch with your feelings and memories, and provide a way to cope with anxieties.
In addition to speaking with a professional, there are activities that you can complete on your own to become more self-aware around the traumatic situation, to explore why the feelings of shame and anxiety may arise, and to realize that although this incident occurred you are not to blame. Instead of focusing on the past and the event itself, think of the present moment and the positive ways you can overcome the trauma. All life events provide us with the opportunity to learn from our experience. We can become stronger in spite of what has occurred in our lives.
Changing how we communicate is a major step towards overcoming victimization. Language is a powerful tool and, if wielded in a positive way, can affect us long-term. Apologizing for small things that we are not to blame for is a negative habit that many of us participate in. Instead of complaining about something we don’t have, we can accept that we may work harder to obtain what we are missing and feel accomplished once we have reached a set goal.
We may not have been in control of what happened to us in the past, but we can control how we cope with our present and future. The feelings associated with victimization don’t have to live with us forever, and with the help of a professional affording a different perspective on life, we can become survivors and learn to thrive. If you have questions regarding shame, victimization, or would like to speak to a professional, please contact us HERE.