Forgiving Yourself for Bad Reactions While in Trauma

Trauma is an incredibly challenging and overwhelming experience. It left me with deep emotional scars and affected various aspects of my life. During times of trauma, my normal coping mechanisms failed me, resulting in reactions that I now regret and feel guilty about, such as my reaction at the Landlord and Tenant Board Hearing in Sept 2017 after hearing details of their alleged prior meeting at some restaurant they claimed we had. Even some of my own emails to them in response to their nasty missives were not nice…

However, it is important to remember that forgiveness is a powerful tool for healing, and that includes forgiving myself for any negative or undesirable reactions I had while amid trauma.

First and foremost, I now understand that trauma can lead to a wide range of emotional responses, many of which were out of character or unexpected. It is not uncommon to feel anger, fear, guilt, or helplessness during traumatic events. My brain and body went into survival mode, often triggering fight, flight, or freeze responses. These instinctual reactions did cause me to act in ways that did not align with my usual behaviour.

It’s important to recognize that, when faced with overwhelming circumstances, we are not always in control of our emotions or actions. Trauma disrupts our sense of safety and security, leaving us vulnerable and reactive. Accepting this fact is the first step towards self-forgiveness.

One of the challenges in forgiving myself for my reactions during trauma is the tendency to hold myself to unrealistic standards. I often expected myself to remain composed, rational, and in control, even in the face of extreme adversity. However, it is essential to remember that I am only human, and trauma can shake even the strongest among us.

To start the process of forgiving myself it was crucial to practice self-compassion. Treating myself with the same kindness and understanding that I would extend to a loved one in a similar situation. I reminded myself that I did the best I could under the circumstances, given the resources and support available at that moment.

I had to seek therapy which also greatly assisted in the journey of self-forgiveness. Speaking with a trained mental health professional can provide a safe space to process your trauma, explore the reasons behind your reactions, and receive guidance on how to heal and grow from the experience.

Engaging in self-reflection and understanding the factors that contributed to my reactions was also a beneficial part of the forgiveness process. Was it a triggering event that reminded me of past traumas? Was I lacking support or resources at the time? Identifying these aspects helped me develop a greater understanding of myself and to build resilience for the future.

As you work towards forgiving yourself, it is important to acknowledge any harm caused to others as a result of your reactions. If possible, make amends and take responsibility for your actions. Repairing lost relationships is also an important step to healing!

Remember that forgiveness is a process, and it may not happen overnight. I am patient and gentle with myself as I navigate through the complex emotions that trauma brings. I celebrate the small victories along the way and acknowledge my growth.

Healing takes time, but with self-compassion and forgiveness, I have regained my inner peace and I am moving forward in my journey of mental health recovery. I am better able to manage these days!

Forgiving myself for bad reactions while in trauma can be a difficult but necessary step in the healing process. Understanding the impact of trauma on my emotions and reactions, practicing self-compassion, seeking professional help, reflecting on the contributing factors, acknowledging any harm caused, and allowing time for the process are all crucial elements in forgiving myself.

Remember, you are not defined by your reactions in those moments of trauma but by your strength to heal and grow from them.


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