Always Looking Through The Rear-View Mirrow

Someone asked me yesterday whether there is some therapeutic benefit to telling a client what they went through wasn’t that bad and others had is worse. 

My first reaction was to shake my head. Who would say something like that to a person unless there is an intention to hurt? It sounds so puntive and discounting of a person’s emotional pain.

My advise was to go back to the therapist and express how this statement has made her/him feel. Asking for clarification and what intention the therapist had when making such a comparison. Of course there is always someone on this planet who has had experiences that were worse than our own. Thats not a hard thing to figure out.

On the other hand, sometimes you come accross a person who is very attached to her/his traumatic experience(s) so that being a victim of abuse/trauma becomes a life-position. I liken it to

“Going through through life as if you are driving in a car looking constantly into the rear-view mirror.

It’s easy to see that such a driving habit comes with huge dangers. The driver is bound to crash into all sorts of objects and obstacles and is a menace to him/herself and others. A challenge like the the above statement might help such a person to move out of the victim position and look into the future rather than ruminating about past experiences most of the time. However, I hope people are able to find more effective and gentler ways of shaking the foundations of a habitual victim-position of helplessness and hopelessness.

Sometimes a critical statement like the one above does not come from a therapist or other people in our lives, but from ourselves. We give ourselves a hard time for ‘not getting on’ with things. Rather than joining the blame-game and giving yourself a hard time, a much better question would be “What resources do you need, what skills do you need to learn, what self-care practices do you need to apply to be able to start looking into the direction you are driving: FORWARD!

2 thoughts on “Always Looking Through The Rear-View Mirrow

  1. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this post. I am not able to talk with the therapist who said this as he died in June. But I had been seeing him long enough to believe your answer is most likely what he was doing for me, “shaking the foundations of a habitual victim-position of helplessness and hopelessness.”
    It was tough to hear, and reinforced what I knew to be true about me, but didn’t know why I couldn’t ‘get past’ or ‘let go’ of my past.

  2. kathleen says:

    Hi Gudrun.
    I hear exactly whatyou are saying here, but this very comment was made to me a few years back by no other than my ‘Therapist’ ! I wasn’t stuck in ‘victim mode’ however as i had already dealt with so much and written a book about my experiences.. for some reason some people thera[ists and others alike feel this type of comment is beneficial to a survivor.
    Like you I disagree as it made me feel that i wasn’t being believed all over again. She also asked me if one incident wasn’t ‘just a drunken fumble’? because i was an adult at the time..

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