Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

A journey to healing from complex trauma.

‘Focus on a positive attitude’ – not wise advice for healing abuse survivors.


Society promotes the whole ‘focus on a positive attitude’ as being the answer for anything.

Church people like to do focus on ‘count your blessings’.

Neither of these are helpful, or appropriate advice to give to people who are trying to heal severe abuse and trauma. All these do, is avoid suppress, ignore the emotions needed to process the trauma, the emotions needed to grieve. Suppression is never healthy when it comes to abuse and trauma.

How do I know this….because I did it myself for 20 years. And it made my current situation worse.

I did what society and unwise people demand – moved on, got over it, made a life, tried to never think about my past, worked hard, exercised hard, focussed on enjoying myself blah blah blah…

And all that did was suppress the deeply painful emotions and severe trauma, that needed to have been dealt with at the age of 20 yrs old.

But, I had no support, no family so I did what I needed to do to support myself, survive and suppressed it as much as I possible could.

At the age of 40, my life – my very high energy, full on, highly competent life – fell apart because my brain and body could no longer suppress it, as this is not possible indefinitely when the trauma history is severe like mine.

So, I pretty much had a breakdown and I thought I was dying. I was deeply scared and terrified it was the end of me. I could no longer control and suppress everything, as I had for 20 years and this lack of control was truly the worst thing that could happen to me.

This was all made worse, by a narcissistic pastor who harmed me further, with spiritual abuse and grooming. That and the following events, all made my situation considerable worse.

But, I started professional counselling two years ago and it has been really hard, but I am healing. Not as fast as I would like, but I am also learning so much through it all, as God wants, using what was meant for evil, for good, with my willingness for that.

I tweeted about this ‘positive attitude being detrimental to healing and a Ph.D Psychologist shared it and commented that it was correct, so that validates that I do indeed have insight into this.

I checked out her details, as I a always interested in MH professionals work etc. This is Helen’s info @ https://dmu.academia.edu/HelenOwton

Author: Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

I am a survivor of complex and multiple trauma and abuse, who at the age of 40, began my healing journey. I am using my journey to recovery and healing, to help others, to help survivors feel less alone, validated, encouraged and to enable others to understand themselves more. Complex trauma, particularly from severe, prolonged childhood abuse, is profoundly life changing. Complex trauma produces complex adults. The journey to recovery is a painful, often lonely, emotional daily challenge and it is my aim to encourage others in their daily battle. ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

15 thoughts on “‘Focus on a positive attitude’ – not wise advice for healing abuse survivors.

  1. I totally agree. The obsessive focus on positivity can be very invalidating to people who are struggling with a whole variety of things. There’s also a way that, at least to me, it feels like blaming the victim. When you tell someone that being positive will make their problems okay, that implies that it’s their fault if they’re still suffering. I’m not saying we should all focus on our suffering all the time to the exclusion of anything productive (and I’ve found that in these conversations, people often say “positive” when “productive” would be a more accurate word choice), but the cult of positive thinking often denies people ANY right to talk about their problems. It just compounds suffering that already exists.

    • I agree with you entirely and well stated ❤

      It is a form of victim blaming to suggest that if we can't 'be positive', then we are at fault. When in fact we have deeply painful emotions, caused by trauma inflicted on us, that we did not want.

      It's amazing how much subtle victim blaming is perpetuated in society.

  2. Ah I was looking or the commonality that I seem to have with a lot of survivors, n that I am a Buddhist and most blogger survivors of cptsd are Christian, but here is what we have in common–the church attitudes–very similar!

    • I have only been a Christian for 5 years, but yes I have encountered very unhealthy Christians, just as much as non Christians.
      I have come to realise, most of society is unhealthy and limited in their thinking, views and there is a considerable lack of empathy.

      • I agree! I redetermine my commitment to bring compassion into the world through my little world

  3. It sounds alot like what Ive gone threw in my life…I kept it all together until 50.
    went to church leadership for help and they made it worse….finally doing some EMDR

  4. It’s very validating to read about how abuse/trauma victims require a different kind of recovery than the simple: “Think positive, be grateful and move on” dialogue. I am so beaten-down after having been targeted, lied to, manipulated, groomed and used only for someone’s extremely sick and selfish purposes. Each time I find another lie I have to replay the whole 6-year span again and look at it from the perspective that this was only a case of some incredibly naïve, undiscerning, desperate and misguided person being steam-rolled over and squashed completely flat till there was no life left, all the while desperately trying to make some sense of things and to uphold the vows that I took (which I happened to mean!!!), knowing that I am accountable to God if I don’t and mistakenly believing that this creature who was posing as a believer realizes that they too are accountable to God and that they actually CARE about that or anything but keeping their sick secrets from being exposed. Wow…I guess I’ll just have to keep reading other people’s healing stories and experience to stay in reality about this and remain awake out of the nightmare from which I have emerged. My stupid mistake, after he’s long-since already discarded me like so much stinking refuse, trying to make it up to some of his children for having been such a crappy step-mother to them.I just need to get the blankety-blank away from all of them if I want to maintain or re-establish any kind of sanity.
    At least it all makes sense now…too bad I was so insistent on making “sense” of it. I guess I asked for it when I got the horrific truth about him.
    Now, if I can only stop obsessing about warning others he’s involved with what a monster he is.Please pray for freedom from this…when will the bondage and damaging effects ever end?

  5. Reblogged this on Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD and commented:

    I know the ‘positivity fountains’ will be spluttering at how wrong I am…but I am not.
    Focussing only on a ‘positive attitude’ is not actually wise advice, for unhealed, or healing survivors of abuse.
    And my insight into this, has been validated by mental health professionals, as correct.
    Unhealed wounds, never heal, if suppressed and avoided by ‘looking for the positives’.
    And I know from personal experience, it only makes it worse, long term.
    Lilly ❤

  6. I am a positive kind of person but there is not always something positive to focus on for a survivor other than the fact they survived and can help other survivors. It isn’t possible to focus on the positive if there wasn’t anything positive to focus on. Most people don’t have a clue which is kind of nice in a way. x

    • To heal, survivors need to feel the emotions often suppressed, process the trauma and grieve.

      You can’t do any of those, if looking to be positive all the time.

      I agree, it is wonderful for people who don’t know trauma and abuse – but they should not then ‘tell’ other what they need to do be doing.

      But many often do, which harms the survivor even more, with shame that the survivor has emotions, feels depressed, is grieving etc.

      Society, is very emotionally abandoning, and that is very harmful, to many, who need empathy and compassion.

      Which is what I try to put out there, with understanding, non judgment and empathy. I give to others, what I never had.

  7. This is so true and well-articulated! Thanks for this incredible, helpful post. For a systematic examination of the “cult of positive thinking”, I highly recommend Barbara Ehrenreich’s _Brightsided_. The belief in positive thinking as a be all end all harms many, and she discusses it in depth around the topic of breast cancer, in particular.

  8. It’s as though you’ve read my mind, I wrote only yesterday myself my dislike of the phrase , ‘surround yourself with positive people’.

    I remember speaking to my best friend about my PTSD and Depression and her response was putting that phrase as her Facebook status, I obviously wasn’t positive enough for her and was crushing her ‘vibe’.

    People don’t realise how belittling it is to what many have been through and it is simply not that easy to be ‘positive’. To people who can be positive every day should channel that to help others, not to abandon them.

  9. Thank you so much for having the courage to post this. I hope it is part of your healing process to see how many people agree, are helped by your post and are moved to support you by responding. I find acknowledgment to be the only phenomenon that truly impacts the pain I carry around from severe trauma and abuse. Bessel van der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps The Score was the penultimate set of acknowledgement for me. It’s absolutely overwhelming and I I am too cynical to have Heroes, but Bessel Van Der Kolk is an exception. I really see him as an absolute hero 4 those of us who have been destroyed or nearly destroyed by traumatic events and abuse. I have trouble implementing the solutions He suggests, but it almost doesn’t matter. The fact that he wrote the book, has spent his life studying and championing the cause and bringing so much attention to the issue, allowing so many other people to speak out about it is the penultimate acknowledgement – and the comfort that I needed all my life.