6 Tips for Dealing with Survivor Guilt

There are many examples of survivor guilt. But typically, the guilt of a survivor comes down to one of three things:

Guilt for survival.
This is what we usually think of when we think about survivor guilt. If you remained safe while others suffered, you feel like you don’t deserve to be safe and should have suffered instead. It makes you doubt the honesty and justice of the world.

Feeling guilty about what you “should” have done.
You should have known. You should have tried harder. You should have recognized the danger. Maybe you tried to save someone, but it was not possible.

As a result, self-flagellation and isolation negatively impact your health and relationships.

As a result, self-flagellation and isolation negatively impact your health and relationships.

Ask yourself who is really to blame. 

It could be a natural disaster or an accidental misfortune. You can do nothing to predict, prepare for or prevent it. Despite this, we still feel responsible. Perhaps you should realize that the situation was out of your control. 

Remind yourself that you can deal with sadness and loss. 

Focusing on guilt can be a subtle or subconscious way to avoid sadness. But avoiding the real emotions that boil under guilt over time exacerbates the situation and prevents you from moving on, accepting the past, and being able to feel better. 

Feeling strong emotions is neither dangerous, bad, or harmful. You can experience and process your feelings in any way that suits you. This is entirely normal. No matter how quiet or loud, sadness and pain are not felt in one single way. The best way to let yourself feel is the way that’s right for you. 

Think about how the people who love you feel about your survival. 

Even if you suspect that you shouldn’t be here somehow, remind yourself of who would be devastated if you were gone. Think of all the people to whom you are very dear and who are happy that you are safe and alive. You have been given the gift of survival. Share it with those who love you the most. It’s the least they deserve. 

Realize that luck is random. 

Survival guilt hides the idea that there is not enough luck for everyone and that if you use your luck, then someone else is being deprived of having it. Sometimes no one has a winning lottery number – that’s life. It can be hard to come to terms with the fact that there is no order in the world. But when we do, we feel justified. 

Do something meaningful for someone else. 

Guilt motivates us to make things right in the best way possible. Help others as much as possible. We find ways to honor the memory of the dead by celebrating their life and achievements, which gives us the chance to reduce the feeling of guilt. It will be easier for you to spend your time helping those who need it most. 

Take care of yourself. 

Self-care, both physical and emotional, is essential to recovery. Eat well, sleep well, move more, and seek support to make everything work. 

Mourn your loss, but remember it was not your fault. Others are glad you are still here, and you can use your survival to please yourself and those around you.

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