Scam Victim Recovery – After The Scam Ends, A Victim’s Universe Closes In
Immediately after the scam ends victims are desperate for information, but quickly they lose interest in the real information that can help them recover. Instead, they often grab onto the basic notions of scams and leave it at that. Often, that information is false urban legends.
But to really recover, it is critical to find the real knowledge they need, not only about the crimes but about their own vulnerability and how to recover. This is when curiosity is so important!
As we grow and develop as humans, we are taught many things that enhance our intellect and physical well-being. However, it seems intentional learning about emotional well-being is often neglected. This leaves us navigating the emotional world with little more than the primal instincts of flight, fight, fawn, or freeze. Although these primal instincts are extremely beneficial when being hunted by a saber-toothed cat, they do not serve us quite as well in non-life-threatening situations, such as normal everyday life and minor relational conflicts.
When an emotion arises and the only tools at our disposal are to fight, escape and avoid, or become give up and be paralyzed, then we find ourselves causing and enduring unnecessary suffering. Most people are unconsciously reacting to emotions with no awareness that it is occurring.
However, the good news is that we are able to learn emotional intelligence and grow in our abilities to mindfully process emotion.
In the book, “It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self,” by Hilary Jacobs Hendel, it teaches that when the mind thwarts the experience of emotion awareness because of overwhelming or conflicting emotions, it creates psychological and physical distress. The resulting symptoms can include anxiety, depression, heart disease, gut problems, autoimmune disorders, and chronic pain, all of which are currently on the rise worldwide. It especially has a big role to play with the victims of crime and helping them to recover from their experience.
Where Do We Start?
How do we gain awareness of our emotions and learn to process our emotions in ways that foster health and connection?
It starts with curiosity
Curiosity implies that we remain open to the experience of emotion without judgment.
As simple as that sounds, it takes practice for most of us because as children we learned to view certain emotions as positive or negative. In our “mind over matter” Western culture, we often grew up with messages that experiencing emotion is a sign of weakness. In reality, neurobiological research indicates that emotion originates from the limbic system, deep within the brain, that lizard part that is the most ancient part, and we have no conscious control over the activation of emotion. So, if we can release ourselves from the false perception that we can control emotional triggers, then we are free to simply be curious about “what the hell is going on?”
How To Be Curious About Emotion?
Here are some simple tips to get you on the right path:
- Notice what is happening in your body. Breathe deeply and attune to what is happening below your neck. Where are you feeling sensations in your body? What kind of sensation is it?
- Name the emotion you are experiencing. The more specifically you can describe and identify an emotion, the more quickly neurological integration occurs.
- Be with the experience of the emotion in the here and now without judgment. There are no positive/negative emotions. There are just emotions and they convey information.
- Explore what the emotion is communicating to you. Does it highlight a value that is important to you? Does it indicate an unmet need? Does it seem to be out of place in your present situation?
- Be patient and compassionate with yourself. It takes practice. Learning and changes in behavior do not happen overnight.
When emotion is processed in this way, the emotional intensity decreases, and emotional regulation increases.
In short, the emotion passes. The bonus is that we learn more about ourselves in the process.
The entire exercise can take as little as two minutes and can save hours and days of rumination (overthinking/voices in your head) and/or regret.
Many of us resist or avoid uncomfortable and conflicting emotions because that’s what we were taught. It may feel strange or even scary at first to open up to emotion with curiosity. Yet, to heal the mind, we must learn to experience the emotions that accompany our narratives, and those are located in the body, here and now.
Curiosity fosters holistic health by integrating mind, body, and emotional elements. When we learn to identify and process our emotions, anxiety and depression decrease, and we feel better.
After reading this article, we encourage you to read our articles about both the Psychology of Scams and the Recovery Process for Scam Victims to learn more about both emotions and your own psychology – these are powerful tools that not only increase your knowledge about yourself but empower you to be better in control of your emotions.
Be Curious Now!
- You already know one major source of information to be curious about – this website, you are already here – especially the articles on recovery and the psychology of scams. Look for them and they will give you amazing insight into what is going on.
- Your trauma counselor! Write questions for every session and ask them. Also ask them what are you not asking, and what you need to know.
Ignore books about self-improvement – they do not really apply to you until you are mostly recovered. But books about the psychology of your mind will help you. Find things you are curious about and read them.
- Join a real support & recovery group and be curious in the group. In the SCARS scam victim support & recovery groups we may give lots of information, but you can always ask questions – nothing is off the table.
- Be curious about your fellow survivors – what they experienced and how they are doing. You can ask anyone anything. We will let you know if it crosses a line.
- Avoid curiosity about scams and scammers until you are further along. Just learn what you need to know to be safe.
- You can be curious about the justice system, and you can ask the police what they did and are doing. You may not like the answers but you can at least find out. That is ok.
- Be curious about yourself. Think about how you were vulnerable and the steps that led up to the scam. Not to be hard on yourself or blame yourself, but to better understand how those vulnerabilities led you into a trap.
Curiosity did not kill the cat. Curiosity is how you learn and in learning are able to recover.
Get curious and stay that way!