Living vicariously through others is usually referenced as a good thing but what happens when another person’s circumstances cause you worry or fear. Vicarious trauma occurs when one witnesses the trauma of another at the time of the event or via the retelling of experiences. With the swipe of a finger or click of a button, many are exposed to distressing images, sound bites, and video clips that can cause a downward spiral in mood, mentality, and perspective. If not mindful, you may begin to take on the posture of those directly impacted.
It is important to note, that as a human being housing an inner-being, there is bound to be a connection to others; we are innately created to bond with one another. For the purpose of this Quick Read, understand that trauma, itself, is the way in which an individual responds to and is impacted by a painful event (whether physically, mentally, or emotionally). Vicarious trauma is based on how witnessing another’s trial impacts your mindset and behavior. With that being said, here are a few ways to navigate the tribulation of others.
Exposure. A major way to circumvent vicarious trauma is by limiting exposure to certain outlets. Consider your recreational time, conversations, and even entertainment. Scrolling on social media is a gateway to the lives of literally millions of people and with that comes the chance of crossing damaging events.
Who are you speaking with on a regular basis? If the top three numbers in your Recent Calls List consists of drama-filled banter, perhaps a change of or within your inner circle may need to take place. What are you listening to, reading, and watching?! From the news to toxic media (including films, books, “reality” tv, and comment sections), your mood can go from high level to ground level in 15 minutes. A small dose of poison is still poison. And on the journey of better living, one must take their intake seriously. This is not to turn a blind eye but discernment is key when it comes to exposure.
Responsibility. Can you do something about it? Too often, much time is spent on worrying versus action. The key to acting is knowing the level of responsibility you have. There are instances when an individual is unable to contribute to the solution of an issue; and for those who deal with hyper-responsibility this can be daunting. Nevertheless, it is important to address what you are accountable for and then proceeding to act on it. Remember, responsibility in its simplest form is responding to a situation based on your ability and purpose. Oftentimes, people take on more than what they are called to do causing personal damage and even deeper harm to those they are seeking to assist. When able, respond; this counteracts anxiety and stagnation.
Inner Healing. It is much easier to give from a cup that is overflowing. The healthier you are (mentally, emotionally, and physically) the more equip you are to be of good service to others without it being personally detrimental. Walking in a force field of strength and good energy presents the opportunity for that same energy to pour into others. Wholeness is a barricade to most of the events one may experience, and this is personally or vicariously.
Here is your LifeWork
Reflect on any current stressors that may be impacting you and allow yourself to unpack the roots of those stressors. Seek to locate if the roots are stemmed from personal events, direct connections, or the world at large (including community, society, and culture).
Now, make a list of those stressors. Next, consider exposure, responsibility (ability to respond and purpose), and inner healing.
Begin to journal what comes to mind in each area discussed in today’s Quick Read. Get your soft cover LifeClub (Greatness is Intentional) Journal here.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.