Surviving trauma is possible, but controlling how you mentally and emotionally respond to trauma will be an important factor in how well you survive and how quickly you recover. Let’s take a look at four psychological moves you can make to survive emotional trauma.
Recognize your power.
One of the most negative effects of trauma is that it can convince you that you’re powerless. Naturally, most people want to believe that they are relatively safe in the world and that they have control over what happens to them. Trauma can disrupt that belief. Being abused, assaulted or violated in other ways can make anyone feel helpless. But if you want to survive and heal from trauma, you must resist giving in to a feeling of helplessness. Remember that while you can’t control everything in the world, you do control your mind and the way you respond to a situation.
Develop tools to handle stress.
Stress is a daily part of life. Big and small stresses can build up over the years and eventually wear you down. To stop stress from delaying your trauma recovery, you must continuously develop a mental and emotional toolkit for handling all the troubles life throws your way. The first line of defense is to avoid unnecessary stress. Limit the time you spend reading or watching news or entertainment that makes you feel sad or anxious. This is especially true in the time period right after you’ve experienced trauma. Give yourself the time and space to recover mentally before you begin spending too much time on negative information. Use exercise, meditation, and other stress relief techniques on a regular basis so that you’re continuously decreasing the amount of stress that’s building up in your mind and body.
Don’t let fear paralyze you or push you to make bad decisions.
Fear is a reality no one can escape. It must be accepted and used to your benefit. After experiencing a traumatic experience, your internal fear alarms will be extremely sensitive, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. If you’re feeling a lot of fear about certain people or situations, take a close look at why and try to determine what you can do to feel safer. Make a plan to address your fears and then take action. For example, if you’re afraid to park in your workplace parking lot because it’s dark and you fear being mugged, you might decide to park someplace else or ask that your employer install more lights. Just taking the steps to protect yourself will go a long way in helping you feel powerful and calming anxiety as you heal from trauma.
Don’t go numb, stay alert.
One of the biggest dangers of trauma is that it can make you go emotionally numb. While this numbness will help you avoid the emotional pain of trauma, it can also make it hard to heal. Instead of shutting off your emotions, accept them as a part of the healing process. Even the strongest men and women can become emotionally hurt by trauma, you’re not different. Embrace the fact that strong feelings are necessary for survival and healing after trauma.
If you want to survive trauma, you’ll need to get in touch with your feelings, address you fears and recognize that you have the power to heal.