Effective Ways To Cope With Survivor’s Guilt

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Survivor's guilt is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder in which a person feels guilty for having survived a traumatic event from which others did not emerge alive.

When tragedy strikes, and we escape unharmed, we might count ourselves lucky.

On the other hand, we might wonder, "Why not me?" and experience pangs of guilt.

Some survivors experience survivor's guilt as they relive the events over and over in their heads.

Feeling guilty because you made it through an ordeal when others didn't is what we mean when we talk about survivor's guilt.

This could be in reference to anything from a car crash to a violent act that you managed to survive.

There are some effective ways to cope with survivor's guilt.

For one, working towards acceptance is one of the crucial ways to cope with survivor's guilt.

Refusing to accept the loss and the circumstances surrounding it will only make moving on more difficult.

Mental health problems brought on by survivor's guilt can be overcome with the help of a professional therapist specializing in grief support.

They will make it their mission to aid you in recovering from your traumatic experience.

Also, practicing mindfulness can be one of the beneficial ways to cope with survivor's guilt.

Get some perspective by reflecting on the positive aspects of who you are rather than dwelling on the negative.

Learn more details about ways to cope with survivor's guilt below.

Winnie Siwa, LPCC

My goal is to empower you to reconnect with your authentic self, navigate life's challenges, and cultivate a life of meaning and purpose.

Rebecca Johnson, LPCC, NCC

Helping clients deepen their understanding of themselves.

Pueblo, Colorado
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Stefanie Kerr, LPCC

"There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn't." - John Green

Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Jacquelynne Sils, LPC

The hardest step is starting counseling.

Work Toward Acceptance

Acceptance can be an arduous process after experiencing trauma.

The event itself must be accepted, which may entail grieving the loss of loved ones or a way of life.

But you also need to accept your feelings of remorse, loss, and other reactions to the trauma.

There are moments when it seems like the best course of action is to simply shut out or ignore all thoughts and feelings about the traumatic event.

After all, when you're not ready to cope with unpleasant feelings, avoidance protects you from having to experience them again.

Avoidance and denial, however, are rarely effective long-term responses.

When you give yourself time to grieve and work through your emotions, you may find it easier to work toward acceptance.

You learn to accept that you were powerless to prevent the traumatic event or change its outcome.

Do Something Positive With Those Feelings

Putting good into the world is a tried-and-true method for easing feelings of guilt.

Use that anger or frustration to motivate you to do something that is good, whether it's for the benefit of yourself or others.

The regret of not having done more good in the situation that caused a loss can motivate you to make better use of your time and talents in the future.

Helping others while improving your own self-esteem is a win-win situation, so consider volunteering for a group that serves your neighborhood.

Also, you can consider doing something constructive in memory of the deceased, such as organizing a fundraiser, donating blood, volunteering, or making a financial contribution, can help.

You can turn a bad situation around for the better by channeling your negative feelings into constructive actions.

Try Mindfulness And Other Grounding Exercises

People who have been through traumatic experiences may benefit from practicing mindfulness.

This occurs especially when they are having flashbacks or going through periods of intense and painful emotions.

The practice of mindfulness can help improve focus on the here and now, making it simpler to let go of distressing thoughts.

When they let go without becoming fixated on them or judging themselves harshly for having them.

Experiment with different grounding techniques, such as concentrating on your breath, feeling the fabrics around you, and paying attention to the sounds coming from both inside and outside the room, etc. 

Grief & Loss Therapists in Colorado

Melody Reynalds, LPC

Melody Reynalds, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Janelle Wagenknecht, MA, LPCC, ADDC

Janelle Wagenknecht, MA, LPCC, ADDC

Colorado
(720) 710-0919
Sarah Munk, LPC

Sarah Munk, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Brooke Moraski, LPCC, NCC

Brooke Moraski, LPCC, NCC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Vanessa Dewitt, LCSW

Vanessa Dewitt, LCSW

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Mikayla Braukhoff, LPC

Mikayla Braukhoff, LPC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Meghan Purcell, LPCC

Meghan Purcell, LPCC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Heather Comensky, LPC

Heather Comensky, LPC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Seth Boughton, SWC

Seth Boughton, SWC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Jennifer Luttman, LPC, ACS

Jennifer Luttman, LPC, ACS

Colorado
(719) 345-2424

Take Care Of Yourself

It is terrifying and overwhelming to go through an experience that involves the loss of life or the potential loss of life.

It has an impact on both our mental and physical well-being.

During times of loss and emotional distress, it is vitally important to ensure that we take care of ourselves emotionally and physically.

Find ways to stay active on a consistent basis (low impact is perfectly fine).

Engage in some activities that will help you unwind.

Maintain a healthy diet. Take care to get an adequate amount of rest.

If you want your mind and heart to be able to process what's going on, you need a healthy body.

If you have been fortunate enough to escape a terrible experience, it is imperative that you look after both your mental and physical health.

In order to heal, it is necessary to do self-care practices such as sleeping well, eating good food, seeking and accepting support, and asking for assistance.

Get Professional Grief Support

Individuals who are still experiencing PTSD symptoms such as intense guilt, flashbacks, and disturbing dreams, may benefit from speaking with a doctor or a therapist.

The most effective treatment for PTSD is therapy, but medication may also be necessary for some patients.

People can begin to feel relief from their symptoms and begin to regain some control over their lives with the help of treatment.

Survivors who have attempted suicide or are having suicidal thoughts, or who have contemplated ending their lives should seek immediate medical attention.

Conclusion

Survivors' guilt is the result of incorrectly assigning blame.

Although feeling guilty can serve as a catalyst for positive change, it also has the potential to lead us to engage in unhealthy coping behaviors.

Consuming alcohol or drugs as a means of numbing the pain is an ineffective way to deal with the underlying issue, which is the need for release and healing.

Support during times of grief is essential for combating negative emotions and any possible addictions that may result from them.

Some ways to cope with survivor's guilt include: working towards acceptance, doing something positive with those feelings, trying mindfulness and other grounding exercises, taking care of yourself, and getting professional grief support.

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July 17th, 2024

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