What does blaming the victim say about us?

What does blaming the victim say about us- (1)

Think about these news headlines:

Marines Being Investigated for Sharing Nude Photos of Female Colleagues-NBC New York

Tennessee teacher suspected in 15-year-old’s kidnapping arrested; teen found safe.-Fox

Three O’Reilly sexual harassment accusers speak out-MSNBC

Right now, you have a story in your mind about the perpetrator and the victim. Some of you side with the victim while others believe the accused. When something horrific happens the mind goes into a narrow focus of black and white thinking, which explains why people take sides. I agree, there are cases of people being accused of crimes they did not commit. Why is it that when the evidence is overwhelming that people blame the victim or feel the victim of the crime has more responsibility than the perpetrator?

From my experience as a licensed psychotherapist, I have discovered the following reasons:

There is a lack of empathy for others and ourselves- When you hear a story about a crime that happened to another person it arises a feeling of judgment within you. It is easy to say after hearing a story that you would have handled it differently. The truth is you do not know how you would cope until you are in it yourself. You can give a good guess, it is something else to live and act in the moment.

It is uncomfortable sitting with your own inner victim. To identify with the victim of a story you need to acknowledge that there were times in your own life that you were victimized or felt vulnerable and there was nothing you could do about it at that time. Many cannot handle this truth and instead reject it, projecting their anger onto the victim.

You don’t want to accept that it is not a just world- Bad things happen to people and they did not ask for it or bring it upon themselves by what they did or did not do. Sometimes bad things happen to good people because you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. This randomness to the world is a scary concept.

It is easier to blame others believing they deserve what they got rather than admit this could have happened to me. The proverb, there but for the grace of God go I, admits this recognition that others’ misfortune could be one’s own and there are parts of our lives that are out of our control. The good news is you can always choose how to respond to any event.

Denial about the perpetrator –Sometimes the person harming others is someone you know or could even be a family member or friend. It is difficult to accept that someone you love could commit a crime. This very truth can cause people to shift the focus of responsibility from perpetrator to victim. You may wonder what the accused person’s behavior says about you as a person. Their behavior, as an adult, is their responsibility. What others do has nothing to do with you.

Lack of acceptance of your own inner perpetrator –As I stated earlier you have an inner victim but you also can have an inner perpetrator or bully. Is there something that you have done that you are having trouble facing that was hurtful to yourself or others?

Blaming the victim drains your life force of energy because you are negating the vulnerable parts within yourself and putting your focus on someone else’s life. You do not know the life lessons and growth for other people but you can work on yourself.  We are all here to learn from one another and ourselves, whether we find ourselves in the position of a victim, a perpetrator or a witness.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who feel drained after their helping efforts refill and recharge their energy with counseling and angel card reading sessions. Helping sensitive souls not only survive but shine! Get her 10 page E-book FREE called 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at www.lisahutchison.net

What helpers like you need to know about burnout

What helpers like you need to know about burnout (3)

 

Helpers and first responders often believe that they can push through irritation and emotional pain. You soldier on despite multiple systems in your body screaming out for you to stop. Some of these warning signs are unending fatigue, sleep difficulties, appetite changes, concentration problems, anxiety, depression, increased illnesses and anger.

As an empathic helper, you are going to experience work or help related stress due to caring so much. When that stress is combined with a lack of self- care and a lack of support more serious stress reactions can occur such as burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatization.

Compassion fatigue and burnout arises from too much work, or as many people say burning the candle at both ends. Empathic helpers often absorb other’s pain and take it with them into their home life. Too much sympathy or working with empathy without proper boundaries drains helpers of energy and leads to burnout. In a study of 216 hospice care nurses from 22 hospices across the state of Florida it was found that, “Trauma, anxiety, life demands, and excessive empathy (leading to blurred professional boundaries) were key determinants of compassion fatigue risk in the multiple regression model that accounted for 91 % (P< .001) of the variance in compassion fatigue risk.” (Abendroth & Flannery 2006).

Vicarious traumatization can happen when you absorb the psychological material of your client who has experienced trauma. You feel the trauma in your own energetic system as PTSD symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, irritability and startle responses. This is why it is important to hold the energetic boundaries and seek supervision or your own counseling. If you are experiencing increased anxiety, startle responses or irritation, after your work with a client ask yourself; is this my trauma or yours?

What can a compassionate helper do?

  • You need to limit your use of empathy. Yes, there can be too much of a good thing.  Empathy is one tool a helper uses in combination with other techniques to ensure client growth. At times you may need to use more directive or instructional types of methods rather than an all-out holding of the space for another.
  •  Be aware and recognize that trauma and stress are running the show. When you notice a change in your mood and thoughts, review your day and think about who you were with and what was discussed.
  • Self- Care. All empathic helpers need a self-care regime that refills and recharges your energy. Relaxation and energy increasing activities will balance out the fatigue you are experiencing. Grounding through the use of mindfulness can keep your focus in the present moment.
  • Seek psychotherapy with an empathic therapist who can help you with burnout and trauma. Going to a therapist who knows trauma, work stress and energy work can make a world of difference for yourself and your clients.
  •  Get this workbook for yourself and your clients. I have found this to be a valuable resource that I use with my clients: The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms Workbook Edition by Mary Beth Williams (Author), Soili Poijula (Author) Some of the chapters include: Before Doing the Work: Safety, Security and Intention and Helping Yourself When You Re-experience a Trauma. (As an amazon affiliate I receive a small portion of the sale when you buy after clicking the above link, without any addition cost to you. Thank you for choosing this method of purchasing.) 

References:

Abendroth, M., & Flannery, J. (2006). Predicting the risk of compassion fatigue: A study of hospice nurses. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing, 8(6), 346-356.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who feel drained after their helping efforts, refill and recharge their energy with intuitive counseling and angel card readings. For more information visit her website at www.lisahutchison.net, while you are there take advantage of the free gift 8 Simple Things that Release Chaos from Your Life Now!

Why compassionate people have lost their empathy for others

 

why-compassionate-people-have-lost-their-empathy-for-othersadd-heading

 

2016 was a heavy year for people collectively from celebrity deaths to the US election. Many clients have told me about their personal losses, anxiety and disappointments. When you are in your own emotional pain feeling another’s emotional pain overwhelms you. I am here to reassure you, you are not alone it was a rough ride for many people, including myself.

If you are a sensitive person you may wonder why you suddenly lack compassion and patience for others. Anger, fear and numbness block the connection to your heart. When you feel contempt, judgment, or fear towards others you lose that mirroring of empathic response and feeling. You disconnect yourself out of a fear of being hurt again, yet, empathic response and experience require connection which means risk and vulnerability.

After a trauma or period of intense stress you can experience a sensation of being shell-shocked and reactive. When a person’s nervous system becomes overstimulated it goes into the fight (anger), flight (anxiety) or freeze (shuts down into numbness) response. In psychological terms this could be an adjustment disorder, acute stress reaction or post-traumatic stress. For an accurate diagnosis and treatment, go to a licensed professional rather than the internet.

Why don’t I feel better yet?

It is a new year and a new energy, although energy does not merely change with a flip of a calendar page, it is a process. Wait a good 3 months to give the energy a chance to build and move collectively. Individually, you are not damaged or broken. A disconnection has occurred and it has happened to many of us. Now the power is in your hands, what are you going to do about it?

What you can do:

My number 1 recommendation is to find an empathic psychotherapist to work with you. Yes, even therapists, healers and coaches need their own healers. Here is a little secret, the best ones do! I had a session in January to release much energy around 2016 in order to help others like you do the same with the work I offer.

You need someone who understands sensitive people, grief/loss issues and trauma reactions. This person will help you process the issues that trigger you so you can release them and connect again to your natural empathy for others.

While you are waiting for an appointment or in between sessions

(a) Practice mindfulness -Become aware of the present moment and that is all. This relaxes your mind, body and soul allowing you to reconnect to your empathic response.

(b) Engage in a meditation practice- Focus on your breath, it trains your nervous system to slow down and teaches you to become the witness to your thoughts. When you observe your thoughts and sensations you can choose a more empathic response or perhaps a non- response.

(c)For helpers- remember it is not your job to fix others. The best way to help others is to work on your own healing and to hold the space for others. Read How To Maintain Your Energy When Helping Others for how to do this practice.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is currently accepting new clients for her empathic psychotherapy practice, certified angel card reading and writing coaching sessions. Sessions are offered in person and by phone. Visit http://www.lisahutchison.net and help yourself to a copy of 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!