Beyond Victim Pain, Embracing Authentic PainBy Dr. Margaret Paul
November 14, 2022
Victim pain pushes people away, while authentic pain, a natural response to life challenges, often draws authentic caring from others.
Most people have had the experience of sometimes being drawn to comfort someone in pain, and other times being repelled by someone in pain. You may also have had the experience of sometimes being comforted when you are in pain and other times being pushed away. There is a very good reason for this.
Our feelings and expressions of pain come from two very different sources and two very different intentions
Victim pain comes from the abandoned wounded self. The pain is real, but it is self-caused. It is the result of abandoning yourself through self-judgments or from ignoring your own feelings and needs. It comes from a very needy abandoned child place within and is a pull on others to take over as the compassionate loving adult.
When you are in victim pain, you are deeply suffering. You might wonder why others are not more compassionate toward you when you are suffering so much. The problem is that others see that you are the one causing your suffering. Your suffering feels manipulative to those around you, and they just want to get away from you. Your needy energy feels "yucky" to them.
Even if people are compassionate toward you when you are in victim pain, it doesn't do much good. It may feel good to you for the moment, but because the pain is being caused by your own self-abandonment, others can't "fix" it for you. They eventually feel frustrated due to your refusal to take loving care of yourself.
When someone you care about is in victim pain, you might feel badly for not feeling inspired to comfort him or her. Your lack of desire to hold and comfort them is most likely accurate and you need to listen to it. You cannot help them by becoming the adult for their wounded inner child. You will be much more help to them by telling them that you love them and would be happy to help them, but you cannot fix them. You can let them know that you are available to support them in helping themselves when they are ready to do so.
The way out of victim pain is to open to learning about how you are causing your pain. Imagine that victim pain is a child drowning in a river. Instead of jumping in and drowning with the child, you need to reach out as a loving adult with an intent to learn and pull the child out. As an adult, you do not indulge yourself in wallowing in your pain. Instead, you comfort your child while learning about what you are thinking, believing, doing, or not doing that is causing your pain. Victim pain is caused by false beliefs and the resulting self-abandoning unloving actions, such as self-judgment, ignoring your feelings and needs, turning to addictions, or making others responsible for your feelings, instead of learning to love yourself.
Authentic emotional pain is sadness, sorrow, or grief expressed in response to experiences such as the following:
- Present loss and heartbreak
- Working on memories of past abuse with an intent to learn and heal
- Being moved by others' authentic pain
- Painful events
- Feeling helpless over others’ unloving behavior
When someone close to you is in authentic pain, you generally feel a desire to comfort him or her. It is easy for most people (other than people who are unable to feel empathy and compassion, such as narcissists and sociopaths) to feel compassion for someone who is genuinely hurting from life experiences of abuse, loss, and heartbreak, and who is willing to self-nurture.
When you are in authentic pain, it is important to both comfort yourself and reach out for comfort. Authentic pain is like the tide - it comes and goes. When we acknowledge it, accept it and comfort it, it moves through us each time it comes up.
Stuck emotions cause the body much stress and eventually illness. Staying stuck in victim pain is often a cause of illness. It is vitally important for health and wellbeing to acknowledge, learn from and comfort your feelings so that they can move through your body and be released.
Next time you are in pain and find others withdrawing from you, consider that you may be in victim pain. Instead of staying stuck in suffering, open to learning about how you might be causing your own pain.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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What is your first reaction when someone is harsh, critical, sarcastic, angry, judgmental, attacking? Do you attack back? Do you withdraw and get silent? Do you defend and explain? Today, honor the feeling in your body that says "This doesn't feel good" and either speak your truth without blame, defense or judgment and open to learning, or lovingly disengage and compassionately take care of your feelings.
By Dr. Margaret Paul