You bet complex trauma survivors tend to take things personally— but it’s not out of narcissism.
We don’t think the world revolve around us. We don’t think we’re “special”— at least not in a positive sense.
Complex trauma survivors tend to take things personally because we’ve often been told that bad things are our fault.
I’m not talking about realistic, “we share responsibility for some aspects of our lives.”
I’m talking about being told, again and again, that everything IS your fault— and everyone IS your responsibility.
There are a lot of abuse survivors reading this. And for a lot of the abuse survivors reading this, their abuse continued over time— maybe years or decades.
One of the ways abusers get away with abusing someone over time is, they condition us to not tell.
One of the ways they condition us to not tell is to make us feel like what’s happening to us is our fault.
They condition us to believe we “made” them hurt us.
They condition us to believe that we “asked” for it.
Sometimes, in the case of sexual abuse, our abusers condition us to believe that we must have liked it or wanted it, because our body responded to being stimulated.
Sometimes, when we grew up in situations where our survival or safety was in danger, we may have had a “fawn” or “freeze” response that made it easier for our abuser to do what they did to us— and we come to believe THAT was our fault, because if we didn’t the abuse, why didn’t we put up a fight? Why did we see to “cooperate?”
All of which is to say: MANY abuse survivors who struggle with complex trauma symptoms arrive in adulthood VERY primed to believe that things really ARE their fault.
We may not understand exactly why— but we know that we feel guilty and responsible when bad things happen.
You can understand, then how confusing and dispiriting it can be when someone comes at us with “You’re so SENSITIVE, why do you take things so PERSONALLY?”
Yes, we are sensitive, and yes, we do take things personally— because we’ve been indoctrinated in exactly that.
We’ve been conditioned to take things personally— and to feel guilty about them.
We’ve been conditioned to assume that we ARE responsible for the events and people round us— and bad things are happening, or if people are unhappy, it may very well be on us to figure out how to change that…or suffer the consequences.
This is a huge reason why so many survivors seem so hypervigilant in relationships.
We may not be responding to the situation or person in front of us— but, as very often happens in our post traumatic worlds, we’re responding to programming that was installed and reinforced years, maybe DECADES, ago.
We CAN overcome post traumatic hyper sensitivity— but it has to start with acknowledging that’s what’s going on.
It’s NOT that we’re “taking things too personally.”
It’s NOT that we’re “making everything about us.”
It’s NOT that we “think the world revolves around us.”
It’s that when you’ve been made to think that everything is your fault— especially bad things— it’s difficult to shake off that conditioning for the sake of being fair and kind with yourself.
Easy does it. This conditioning didn’t happen overnight. No one’s expecting it to change overnight.
And you’re NOT bad, weak, or uncommitted if you happen to struggle with it.
You are human— and, if you’re reading this, very likely a human that some bad stuff has happened to.
A little grace here, huh?