Life Traumas – How to deal with them [SELF IMPROVEMENT]

This is a sensitive subject so please forgive me if I stir up emotions inside you that you perhaps would rather didn’t surface.  That said, some of the stuff I’ve learnt along life’s journey could be of help to someone out there.  I’m writing directly to that someone, maybe you!

What do I mean by Trauma?

  • Any event in ones life that turns it upside down
  • When life throws the curve ball (for my American friends)
  • When your emotions are shot to pieces by an emotional setback
  • When the straw that breaks the camels back just knocks you flat

As you read this article, I expect that you will think of things that have caused some form of trauma in your life. While I will mention a few now, never forget that your experiences are personal to you and yet millions of other human beings (billions in fact), have suffered and will suffer just like you have or are suffering.  So, I don’t want to detract from the immense hurt or struggle your particular traumas throw your way, but I do want to help you realise that you are not alone!

Trauma, Wikipedia says is:

  • Trauma (medicine), an often serious and body-altering physical injury, such as the removal of a limb
  • Psychological trauma, an emotional or psychological injury, usually resulting from an extremely stressful or life-threatening situation

Let’s allow the doctors and nurses to deal with the medical trauma and look at psychological trauma shall we?  With regard to psychological trauma, I don’t believe that they need to be life threatening – they just feel like it!

As I said earlier, I’d rather not stir up old wounds unnecessarily but I think I do need to mention some specific examples so you get the idea of how you can heal yourself, how you can deal with trauma in your life.

Examples

Death of someone (or more than one person) close to you

To date I have not suffered this in my life, but like everyone who has ever lived, I most likely will.  Even writing this has me struggling to come to terms with such a potential event.  I hope I will remember this article when it does happen.

Separation or divorce from someone (or persons)

This I have suffered.  I had been married for 17 years and was with my then girlfriend for the 5 before we got married. We finally separated about five years ago and divorced a while later.  Separation of this kind can be very traumatic.  Even if you felt like it was the best thing to do, this kind of event in your life can still have a detrimental effect on your emotions and self confidence. When my then wife and I decided to divorce I believed that it was the best thing to do, but when the Decree Absolute came through, it was still such an emotional shock to my system that I cried on the phone to my mum for twenty minutes!

Most of the advice I give in the paragraphs that follow are born of my experiences over the last 5 years or so.

This kind of separation does not have to be simply one of a relationship or marriage break-up.  It could be a very good friend who decides for whatever reason that he/she doesn’t want to be a friend of yours any more and I’m sure other scenarios too.  Sadly, as well as a marriage break up, I had to deal with friends deciding to push me away.  I didn’t understand at the time and of course this just added to the hurt.

Trauma – How To Deal With It

“If You Are Going Through Hell, Keep Going!”

I’m sure I’ve said this a few times before and I’m not going to apologise!  I’m going to keep saying it until you understand what this sentence means!  Simply put, does it feel like you are walking alone through a dark place? Then keep walking until you emerge from that ‘hell’ into a better life.  You probably don’t understand right now, but when you come through the hard times, you can be an immeasurably stronger person.

The Three Phases of Healing

I cannot claim to have thought of and initially understood the following three phases.  This is attributed to a friend of my family who I sought help from shortly after I was separated from my (then) wife).

  1. Trauma
  2. Separation
  3. Recovery

1. Trauma

In the case of separation such as in a long term relationship there can be an initial period of trauma.  This happens in the first few weeks of the separation where you are emotionally upside down, Topsy turvy, nothing makes sense and all you can think about is the hurt. Hour after hour, day after day, week after week.  You just cannot see how you can go on living with the situation as it is.  Nothing anyone says to you helps at all (or very very little).  I should imagine that where the trauma is caused by a death of someone you love, then the feelings I’ve described can be a lot lot worse.  I feel for you if you are experiencing this.

Time: 0-12 weeks+

Summary: I’m not an expert but for me the traumatic period probably lasted a few weeks.  It varies from one person to another.

2. Separation

This is a period of time when your soul, your heart is gradually coming to terms with the loss, the heartbreak.  It is a time of understanding that the event has happened and that there is nothing you can do about it.  It is a time of acceptance (see this article for more information).  For me, I kept thinking that I had moved on from phases 1 and 2 quite quickly but in reality I hadn’t.  As time went on, I kept on having to say to myself:

“Jonathan, you are nowhere near through this yet – stop fooling yourself!”

If there is one thing you should keep in mind when you are coming to terms with your trauma, it is that you shouldn’t expect things to proceed faster than your soul can cope with.  I know it is easy to want things to go faster and for a certain amount of desperation to creep in – but you mustn’t let these thoughts rule your world!

It’s difficult to say how much time this took for me as of course the phases merge together, but probably I can look back and say that it was probably at least 2 years before I had completely accepted what had gone before.

Time: 0-2 years+

Summary: Try and listen to your inner voice, the voice inside that says: “slow down, I need more time”.

3. Recovery

This is the bit we all want to get to and get through also!  Like any form of healing, it takes time.  When your body suffers some form of injury, it takes time for it to heal and recover.  Let it happen.  never stop learning, never stop attempting to be a better person, never stop thinking of how your experiences can help others. And never stop considering how your experiences can help you in the future.

I recovered (am recovering?) with the help of friends and being around future thinking people.  In fact, friends are something I haven’t mentioned thus far.  For me all it took was one friend to continue to believe in me, to not push me away because I was depressed.  This one person perhaps understood because she had gone through similar things and just knew that all I needed at the time was a non judgemental friend.

Not a lot needed to be said, but it kept me going.  I was lucky I guess to have a friend like this and I know some of you don’t.  When I first separated from my wife, I was having business problems and business relationships were strained to breaking point and I felt I was left with nothing. Nothing or no-one to fall back on.  Thankfully, this one friend was there. I hope you have one friend like this in your life too.

Time: 5 years+ (How long is a piece of string?)

Summary: Find a friend who will listen without judging you. If not a friend, then how about ‘man’s best friend’? or music or a hobby?

Finally

I’m going to reiterate that while your personal circumstances, your own personal trauma is ‘yours’, others have been there before and have come through.  Have come through as stronger, happier people.  Of course, there will always be a hole in your heart where a loved one is missing for instance. Instead of papering over the hole, you can understand and accept that the event happened and that it won’t hold you back.

Take care :-)

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How to get on in life – it’s all just luck! [FUTURE THINKING]

Or so some say….

Is it luck that allows some people to get on, find the right job, get that promotion (and so on) before anyone else or where things seem to always go right for them?

I don’t think so.

First, a short story

One of the greatest golfers there has ever been is Gary Player and he was regarded as one of the best bunker players in the world at the time.  Some thought he was ‘lucky’.  He wrote in one of his books about a fellow golfer:

‘Once Jerry Barber, a great sand player, was practising bunker shots. He hit one ball near the flag. The next shot went in. A person watching Jerry told him: “Gee, you sure are a lucky trap shot player.” “Yes, I know,” Jerry replied. “And the harder I practice, the luckier I get.”

This quote, on some websites, has Gary as the golfer who was ‘lucky’.  If you are interested, check out this link at quoteinvestigator.com.

Alternatives to ‘luck’

Ok, several things I want to pick up on here:

1. Gary Player worked hard.  He practised and worked hard at his job.  His ‘job’ in this case was golf

2. His goal when practising at bunker shots was to get the ball in the hole (or as near as possible!)

3. Repetition. For Gary player, he was training his body and mind to do something and do it well.

All the above amount to ‘being ready‘.

Being Ready

Working hard doesn’t guarantee a good result.  You have to have a goal and have your eyes open (be ready) as well.  The goal for Gary Player as I’ve already said was to get the ball in the hole.  For others, the goal might be that elusive promotion or that opportunity to meet your soul mate.  If the goal is to get on at work, then you should work hard but also have your eyes open to the goal too.  If you do what Gary Player did then you will work hard, keep a goal in mind and keep repeating things that will get you where you want to be.

Waiting for an opportunity means you need to work hard, focus on good potential outcomes and keep repeating the things that are most likely to get you where you want to be.

Practical Scenarios

Well, we’ve already talked about one application of these ideas: Gary Player and his amazing golf bunker shots.  What about real life? What about getting on in your career?  How about becoming one of the best in your profession?  How about your charity group achieving things like raising money or finding a generous benefactor?

Quite possibly I could ramble on about any one of the above possible scenarios.  But I won’t you’ll be pleased to hear!  I’m going to pick on the last one.  Not because I have experience in this area but because I know that you can use the same ideas in other areas of your life too.

So, how on earth would you find a generous benefactor for instance? By luck? You think it’s luck that you can by chance meet someone, get talking, find out that he or she is a rich businessman who wants to give to a charity or organisation like yours? Ha! No way!  It might seem that way to some.  And indeed this might happen from time to time. However, for most of us, the way to find a benefactor would be to work hard and repeat certain things and to ensure you are in the right mind-set and ready for that ‘chance meeting’.

Working hard, a practical example

Would you agree for the sake of this article that finding a benefactor means you need to be skilful at communication and be a good conversationalist?  I think this is a good start.  So, you should learn all you can about these subjects, you should start talking to people – anyone! You should communicate with people wherever you go.  You should talk online with people through social networking, forums and email.  How many? It doesn’t matter how many.  Who can say how many people you need to talk to to become a successful conversationalist? No-one.  So work hard at talking and listening to people.

Oh and that’s very important too! Listening!  Listen to all the people you talk to and you might just hear something that makes you suddenly get an idea or ask a certain question.  Listening is an integral part of being ready. Do not underestimate how important this is.

Listening and Intuition go hand in hand.  I won’t say any more on this topic but you go away and have a think about it!

Goal setting, a practical example

I’ve discussed goal setting elsewhere but for this practical working example, don’t you think that you could set goals of communicating with a certain number of people in one year?  Again, it doesn’t matter how many because even if you fail to reach your goal, if you have moved towards your goal, you have been successful in moving forward.

Repetition, a practical example

If you notice that you are getting along well with people through your interactions and that people are talking to you and asking questions, then it’s safe to say that you are probably doing something right.  Then repeat what you are doing with the next person you meet!  And the next!

How many people does it take to find a wealthy benefactor for your organisation? One! You just don’t know which one!

A Warning

With all the above talk, it’s easy to think that the purpose of striking up conversation, being friendly, helping people, discussing issues and so on is all about finding that benefactor!  This is dangerous.  It’s dangerous to have this goal as the be and end all.  If you don’t find that person, then your hopes might get dashed and you stop doing things that you know work (i.e. people like you and like what you are doing and find you easy to get on with).  Your daily reason for meeting and chatting and making friends is not to find that generous rich person but to have fulfilment and self improvement in your life and to be ready when it does happen.

Measuring success

Of course, as in the example above, some would say you would measure success by whether you find that one generous person or not.  To me this is short sighted and narrow minded.  Success should be measured by whether your actions are making you the kind of person that a rich person might look upon and think to themselves “Hmmm, I could give money to this charity”.  See the difference?  How do you think Gary Player (the golfer I mentioned earlier) felt when the ball didn’t go in the hole?  Well, I don’t suppose he felt too bad if it was a good shot and the ball ended very close to the hole every time!  Imagine if every time you made a new friend they respected and looked up to you? Imagine if they saw you as someone who knew what they were talking about and someone who had a great knowledge of their chosen profession/field?  In the process you would become the kind of person that rich person will give money too!

Finally

Whatever your goal, whether its like the example above or if it’s seeking to grow your career or something else.  Your actions today affect the outcomes of tomorrow. By doing things right today, you will be ready tomorrow.  Ready to see and take the opportunity when it comes.  Because you will have been preparing yourself by working hard with eyes open, you will be the one to ‘get lucky’.

So go out there and get lucky!