Letting Go of the Trauma: How to Stop Punishing Yourself for Being Bullied

One thing I’ve learnt from counselling is how much I punished myself for the bad things that happened to me.

It wasn’t enough that I experienced trauma – I blamed myself for it.

Maybe you do too. In fact, I bet that deep down, you definitely do. It’s normal and more common than we think.

Trauma is a lot more than life or death situations. What constitutes as trauma is far more complicated than you may realise, which means a lot of your trauma is ingrained in you. It’s in the way you think of yourself, in the fine hairs across your body that stand to attention when a memory surfaces, and shoots through your body as the chemicals do. Trauma, after all, is physical.

How we respond to “triggers” shows more in our physical being than in our minds. So we may not even realise we’re carrying it. But I don’t know a human alive that doesn’t have any.

It’s inevitable.

Our responses to trauma will differ, but more often than not, we try to gain control. Without control, our minds go into overdrive, looking out for non-existent threats and we end up a nervous wreck. I’ve been there, it’s not fun.

So if we’re trying to gain control, it’s also impossible not to blame ourselves for the bad things. After all, if we are in control, we can stop it happening again. You look back at all of the things you could have done differently in order to prevent it reoccurring. With this logic, our minds are geared to then blame ourselves for not doing what we should have in the moment.

A very common form of trauma that the majority of us go through is bullying.

I know I didn’t experience the worst, but it did change me as a person. Without delving too deep into it, I spent the last years of Primary feeling like I had very little friends and that I was weird. Those beliefs have stuck with me ever since. I always view myself as weird – if I meet new people and I even attempt to see myself how they do, my thoughts reiterate what I’ve been telling myself since I was 8.

That I am weird.

That I don’t deserve to be liked.

Trauma responses show up in a lot of different ways, this is just one of mine. Sound familiar?

I blamed myself for not being better; for not standing up for myself or just being weird. When in reality, there was nothing wrong with me. Why I got targeted will always be a mystery to me (although I have some ideas) and I’m sure it’s the same for you.

When we blame ourselves for the bullying we went through, not only are we validating the mean opinions of others from years ago, we continuously punish ourselves by viewing ourselves in the same way. We do ourselves a disservice by not accepting the growth and the truth of who we truly are.

We sabotage our current relationships under the same belief that we are too weird, we are too ugly, we are too much, we are too anything to have these relationships in our lives. Which is not true at all. You deserve to have friendship, love, companionship. The biggest obstacle is yourself.

I can write in here a bunch of ways to practice self-care; I could list about 10 affirmations to help boost your confidence. At the end of the day, these only go so far. To truly stop punishing yourself, you need to let go of that outdated version of you.

Close yourself and really think of yourself. How you look, how you feel, your personality traits. Now take yourself back to the point in time where you were that person, or felt like it most. Sit with yourself, face to face, and just talk.

I know, I know. This sounds patronising or pointless. Trust me, I’ve felt the same. But that version of you that you found is the person you are punishing when you reiterate all of the comments made against you. That is who you are hurting when you think you’re just hurting yourself. Not only are you not letting go of your trauma, you are repeating it – you’ve become your own bully.

None of this is to guilt you. We all have ways in which we bully ourselves. But by carrying on the trauma, you are only punishing yourself. If you look back and berate yourself for not doing things differently, you are punishing yourself.

Forgiving your bullies is irrelevant. No one can turn back the clock. True closure will come when you finally stop the cycle. Forgive yourself for becoming the bully. Forgive yourself for not sticking up for yourself. Forgive yourself for everything you’re mad at yourself for doing or not doing.

Forgive yourself.

Published by Megan Ingram-Jones

Lover of all things dinosaurs, astrology and cats. I'm passionate about personal development and writing content for blogs. If I'm not complaining about my gut, you'll find me in my garden with a book and a cuppa.

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