(Last Updated On: December 19, 2023)

Motivational Denial

Recovery Psychology

Authors:
•  Vianey Gonzalez B.Sc(Psych) – Psychologist, Certified Deception Professional, Psychology Advisory Panel & Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

How Motivational Denial Can Hold People Back From Emotional Recovery – Especially Scam Victims

One of the things that can be hardest for new victims is total acceptance!

Motivational Denial can hold Victims Back

Relationship scam victims have been through the traumatic experience of believing in a totally false story spun by the criminals who stole from them.

But in the days that follow, that tendency to continue magical thinking remains. Victims are desperately looking for a savior, a path forward, and how to diminish the guilt and shame they feel.

Motivations often fill that emotional need to believe that everything is going to be fine

This desperate need for validation and support often turns to motivational messaging because it can offer some emotional relief.

However, the problem is that most motivational support is not real support, it is deflection avoidance. Victims want to believe in the motivational fairy tales that are everywhere in life, but we know that recovery from these crimes is hard, there will be significant pain to overcome, and while these messages can provide a small measure of hope, often the hope is false hope.

This is called ‘Motivational Denial’

Moivational sayings are great for encouragement while a scam victim is actively engaged in a recovery process, but it is not real support. Real support is being told the truth about the situation and helping victims to move forward through the pain, the grief, and the trauma.

Motivations are a form of encouragement to be sure, but encouragement is a pat on the back and says “Everything is going to be fine.” Except it is not. Recovery is incredibly hard, just ask any of the scam victims who have successfully recovered.

Motivational Denial is the act of ignoring the reality of a situation in order to stay motivated or positive. It can be a dangerous practice, as it can lead to people making poor decisions or taking unnecessary risks. It can lead easily to false hope and denial. Particularly denial about how deep the trauma from the crime really is.

It is NOT the same as ‘Affirmations’ such as ‘I am a survivor’ or ‘It was not my fault.’ Those are statements of fact that you say over and over to get them glued into your brain and believe them!

Understanding How Hard it is!

The aftermath of a scam isn’t confined to financial loss. It leaves unseen scars, etching deep emotional wounds that can be as painful as any physical injury. Recovering from this trauma is a challenging journey, marked by grief, self-blame, shattered trust, and the suffocating isolation that shame brings. It is only natural for a scam victim to grasp at warm and fuzzy sayings (or the well-intentioned motivation of others) to help them get through.

Hope Persists

But even in the Darkness, glimmers of Hope Persist

After a scam ends, it is vital to turn away from the fantasies of the scam, and in fact, learn quickly to abandon all fantasies so that they can reconnect with the cold hard reality. Because only reality can lead them out of the dark.

Support, as opposed to motivational encouragement, is a solid hand outstretched that can light the way. Sharing the burden with trusted friends, family, or even fellow victims can chip away at the wall of isolation, revealing a path toward healing.

Real support is about building a new foundation based on truth. Learning what is real, and how a victim can trust themselves and their decisions are critical. But motivation should never be allowed to be a path to believing in false hope that often leads to further denial.

Why Cling to Motivations?

There are a few reasons why scam victims might engage in motivational denial.

One reason is that they may be afraid of failure. If they acknowledge the reality of a situation, they may feel like they are setting themselves up for disappointment. Another reason is that they may be trying to protect their pride. Another is shame. If they admit that they are struggling, they may feel like they are admitting weakness.

Motivational denial can be seen in many different areas of life, but especially true for new scam victims. An athlete who is injured may continue to play, despite the risk of further injury. A business owner who is losing money may continue to invest in their failing company. Or a scam victim who goes back onto online dating too soon. In all of these cases, the person is ignoring the reality of their situation in order to stay motivated or positive. This can be a dangerous practice, as it can lead to people making poor & dangerous decisions, rejecting real help, not listening to the real situation, or taking unnecessary risks.

Not All Motivation is Bad

Not all motivation is bad. But it has to be blended into a program of overall emotional recovery, not be a diet by itself as is all too often the case with scam victims.

If it helps scam victims to realistically face what they are dealing with, then great. But if it is telling you a fairy tale then it is not.

Support & Therapy are Vital Partners

While support is essential, therapy helps victims to unravel the tangled threads of their trauma. Therapists help to equip victims with tools to navigate the labyrinth of emotions, offering validation, understanding, and strategies to rebuild trust and self-compassion.

If a scam victim is not yet ready for a support group, a competent trauma counselor or therapist is a recommended starting point. If the victim is ready to share and participate in a professional support group then that too should be a part of the victim’s recovery as early as possible.

Time & Patience

Recovery isn’t a sprint; it’s a slow, deliberate walk through the garden of pain and scars. Each step, each shared tear, and each moment of self-forgiveness nourishes the soil of resilience. Flowers of real hope rise through the cracks, fragile yet determined.

As someone goes through their recovery, the experience remains, a scar etched on the soul, but it no longer defines. Victims transform into Survivors, their vulnerability morphing into strength, their scars a testament to their journey and a beacon of caution for others.

Scam victims face a long very hard road, one paved with doubt and despair. But with courage, compassion, and support, the sting of betrayal can lessen, the shadows of deception recede, and the heart, once fractured, can mend, stronger and wiser for the storm it weathered.

Tips to Avoid Motivational Denial

Here are some tips for avoiding motivational denial:

  • Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Set realistic goals. But understand there is no certainty.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Be prepared for setbacks, hard work, and relapses.
  • Celebrate your successes.

It is okay to not be perfect. It is also okay to be afraid and feel uncertain. Everyone makes mistakes and faces challenges. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.

Remember

It is important to be aware of the dangers of motivational denial.

If you find yourself ignoring the reality of a situation in order to stay motivated, it is important to take a step back and assess the situation honestly and authentically.

Acknowledging the reality of a situation is the first step to making a plan to address it – in other words, moving forward with your recovery.

Remember, there is no certainty in what you are going through, other than the fact that if you resist you will fail. We hope you will not, and the survivors who make the commitment to do the hard things make it through the recovery process!

If you’ve been touched by the darkness of a scam, you are not alone. The path to healing, though arduous, is possible. Reach out, accept support, and know that within you lies the strength to rise above the shadows and reclaim your light.

SCARS Resources:

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.

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