Life is incredibly unpredictable. It can be filled with wonderful moments of joy, love, and excitement, and then a single event can create heartache, pain, and sorrow.
It is important to remember that these difficult times are all natural parts of being human and unfortunately, we cannot prevent unpleasant things from happening. What we can do though, is develop healthy and positive ways to assist us in coping better with trauma.
1. Normalise negative thoughts and emotions that arise.
After any traumatic incident, it’s NORMAL for grief to manifest itself in feelings of shock, denial, anger, sadness, shame, and guilt.
Exercise showing kindness and compassion towards yourself by accepting that these thoughts and emotions re all part of the process, and in doing so they will have less power over you. Sometimes writing down how you’re feeling can also help you to heal.
2. Turn to loved ones for support.
Communicate your feelings with family and friends. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Naturally not everyone will completely understand your unique situation. However, they will empathise, offer a shoulder to cry on, this could be a wonderful opportunity to deepen bonds and attachments in relationships. Loved ones can also serve as positive distractions, allowing you to focus on the enjoyable aspects of your life.
It’s easy (and normal) to view trauma as a bad thing. One can feel victimised, hurt and hard done by. Nonetheless, try and detach from these thoughts, and acknowledge that yes, sometimes life throws us a curve ball, but those situations can be used to build emotional resilience.
4. Face the fear.
Traumatic events leave us feeling vulnerable, and in turn can result in avoidance behaviour. However, embracing vulnerabllity can be both theraputic and empowering. Revisiting situations, people, or places that are associated with the trauma can serve as a reminder that you “made it through.” There are many meditations and mindfulness techniques that can help guide you through this task.
5. Learn and grow.
As cliché as it may sound, the old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is one of life’s greatest pearls of wisdom. There is a lesson to be learned from every challenging experience. Difficult moments can prove to be turning points where we grow and become even better versions of ourselves.
Continue to do the activities you always loved and enjoyed, as this will assist in getting you back to your pre-trauma self.
Life is a spectacular rollercoaster, and the human spirit can withstand more than we give it credit for. We may not be able to control everything, but we CAN control how we react and behave. Accepting that good AND bad things happen is a positive first step!
As Dolly Parton once said, “If you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.”
*For others that continue to struggle, seeking professional help is available. Talk to your GP to access counselling or psychological services.
Dr Aileen Alegado
DClinPsych, BSc (HONS)