*Note: Shortly after writing this post, I took a year off from my blog and podcast to focus on improving my emotional, spiritual and physical health. During that time, I had a health-related breakthrough that allows me to return to this work. It is my spiritual journey and my life path and I’m glad to be back. This post remains, without an associated podcast episode, because the process is as important as the end result.
What is victim mentality and how is that different from empowered thinking?
Since the beginning of my participation with the Sisters as a featured guest blogger, they have shared with me that they would like the blog to focus on empowered thinking and how to shift from the “victim mentality.”
A few weeks ago, I participated in a gathering of women and shared some of my writings. They were writings that gave voice to my inner child who had suffered abuse and offered witness to valuable survival strategies that I celebrated as I recognized my own strength and empowerment. At the end of the evening, a woman who offers “healing services” said something to me about when I am “no longer a victim.”
“I am not a victim. No matter what I have been through, I’m still here. I have a history of victory.” Yes, that’s what I’m talking about!
Now, let me digress a bit.
For me, having a history of victory involves rooting out deeper and deeper patterns of trauma out of my body. When I discover that something affects me in a negative way, I bring a determination to understand what is happening to me so that I can heal it. My goal is ever unfolding, deeper, longer lasting experiences of joyful living.
For me and for others who experienced abuse from childhood into adulthood and up to the point where escape and healing could begin, tracks get laid deeply in the brain that undermine the search for joy. For me, those tracks in the brain were established and reinforced for 43 years!
For the last 5, I have been on a quest to untangle them and to relieve myself of:
- Ongoing anxiety
- Worrying about what others will think of me
- Pleasing others to the extent that I hurt myself in the process
- Not saying what I need
- Not taking care of myself on the “little things”
- Aches and pains that I feared were related to chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
Typically, to be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, there has to be a discrete event or series of events that lead to flashbacks, avoidance, etc. related to that event. But what if there were so many events over a lifetime that life becomes the trigger?
This is when empowered mentality is about digging in. In order to heal it is essential to understand what is causing the symptoms of fear, worry, panic or self-doubt. Positive self-statements aren’t enough. What is required is a correct understanding of the cause and specifically applied corrective, self-supportive beliefs as replacements. This is hard work. And the more trauma a person has experienced, the longer the process of unraveling the trauma beliefs and self-limiting behaviors. Sometimes, that isn’t enough.
Which brings me to the question of self-care. What is it? Do you answer that question by responding with things like “time to myself” or “exercise” or trying to find life balance? How about a harder list?
Self-Care isn’t always easy
What if, in the process of listening deeply to yourself you discover that taking a bubble bath or getting enough sleep or deep breathing exercises aren’t enough?
I have recently discovered that as wonderful as my tools for healing are, they aren’t enough for me. I have a brain that has responded to trauma by acclimating. My brain would have me look at my entire life through a trauma lens. I have found my answer. With this answer, layered over my tools, I am finding greater enjoyment, relaxation and happiness than I have ever experienced before. For me, this requires empowering myself to do whatever I need to do to heal without judgement. With self-love and acceptance.
Giving myself permission to heal at deeper and deeper levels is empowerment.
After taking a 1-year hiatus from this podcast, Tamara has new perspectives about the work, what led her to stop and where her answers were found that led back to this work. In this episode, Tamara describes the journey. It is a transparent process that will illuminate the growth process and help her listeners see that we all have room to grow. Never give up. Life is a process. Growth is the process we participate in to bring our life more value.
© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2015 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited. Tamara’s current project in her work of raising awareness and advocacy for victims of domestic violence can be found here: http://www.skinsihaveworn.com/