Have you been in a situation which drains your energy and leaves you overwhelmed? You feel consumed by your problem. You look at others and long for that time when you too can be free of worry, able to enjoy recreation time with family and friends, like you used to. But then you think, they did not have to overcome the same trials you did; their lives are simple; they had no challenges.
The truth is that all of us encounter problems. Some problems are bigger than others of course. But to each of us, our particular problem is a stumbling block to a brighter future. Fortunately, there are ways to move from acceptance of defeat in adversity to promoting victory in any situation.
We all know about radioactivity. It is spontaneous, requiring only that the radioactive substance exists, for radiation to be emitted. For example all of us have a definite amount of radioactive carbon present in our bodies. As fast as it is removed by radioactive decay, it is replaced by inhalation of carbon dioxide. A percentage of all carbon dioxide contains radioactive carbon.
When our physical bodies reach their expiration date, the level of radioactive carbon begins to decrease as it continues spontaneous decay but we no longer are capable of replenishing it through breathing. As long as there is radioactive carbon present, radiation will be emitted. There is no biological or chemical or physical switch to stop or start it. The rate of decay of any radioactive substance is exponential. It decreases rapidly at first but begins to slow down as the amount of substance lessens. Decay never really comes to a complete stop.
We have the choice to allow our trials to become radioactive; to allow erosion of our joie de vivre, believing that there is no switch to bring the process to a stop. We can allow a hardship to exponentially eliminate ambition, cheerfulness and emotional health. Radioactive emissions and fallout from a nuclear explosion are hazardous to all those within its range. If our despair is left unchecked, it can be catastrophic not just for us but to those around us.
Unlike radioactivity, the negative effects of a calamitous situation can be combatted. Self-awareness and mindfulness are useful tools in such a battle. Being acutely conscious of your personality, wants and needs, and strengths and weaknesses, without being egotistical, can bring about triumph in an overwhelming situation.
Here are four ways to help you overcome a traumatic situation.
1. Acknowledge and accept the situation
It is easy to keep wishing something did not happen. For instance when I was shot two years ago, receiving face changing and life threatening injuries, I awoke one morning believing it was just a dream. Awareness of the reality was devastating. However the weeks of being hospitalized brought acceptance of the situation. Without this vital step, recuperation would be protracted.
Our physical healing is linked to emotional, mental and spiritual healing. When we come to terms with our situation, then we can take steps to deal with it. Only acknowledgement of a crisis can precipitate acceptance and only acceptance can bring about a change in that situation. Acknowledgement and acceptance will free the mind and soul from undue stresses which may hamper physical healing.
2. Develop a routine
Acceptance of your situation brings you one step closer to conquering the distress in your life. The next step is to develop a routine. Human beings crave routine and habit. Routine is comforting and reassuring. You know what you have to do and without even thinking it gets done. Routine brings accomplishment. Each completed task speaks volumes about your ability to get things done, even under stress. Occasionally breaking a routine provides the thrill of adventure.
Until you have conquered your situation, having a routine is like having a safe harbor for a boat. There is security in being able to do daily tasks. It takes your mind off the negativity of the situation with which you are dealing. It gives you more time to analyse your situation and to bring back a sense of normalcy. It gives you back a level of control!
3. Indulge in a hobby
Having accepted your situation and beginning to move back into a daily routine are major landmarks of victory against traumatic defeat. Slowly your routine results in more efficient use of time. More free time emerges. It is easy to slip into bouts of self-pity and depression with extra free time. To short-circuit such toxic tendencies, a hobby is essential.
Find something you like to do or something that you are good at or something you always wanted to do and get started with it. Give your recreational pursuit full attention and commitment. For me, jogging or walking is stress relieving, leaves me physically tired yet rejuvenated and helps me sweat out toxins. It also produces endorphins and alleviates the dark clouds of depression.
You may prefer a less energetic pursuit such as reading or playing a musical instrument. Another person may enjoy dancing or Zumba! Whatever works for you, whatever activity you are able to sustain diligently, that is the pastime for you.
4. Seek professional help
Congratulations! You have made it past acceptance, past your routine and have begun a hobby. These are amazing indications of your recovery.
We are only human though. In the midst of all this it is still possible to have a nervous meltdown. Nine months after my life was shattered, I suffered a meltdown. I began crying for trivial matters. I cried publicly and openly. The day I cried in a public office, unable to control myself in front many strangers, was a critical day for me. That was the day I recognized that, even though I had made spectacular strides forward, I was still crippled by the insidious plague of post-traumatic stress.
I am grateful that I was sufficiently self-aware and courageous enough to seek professional help. The professionals may prescribe medication depending on the severity of your case or you may simply need therapy.
Family and friend support is important. Talking to someone is important. But… it is important to know that talking with a neutral, non-judgmental person can work wonders in unravelling your mental knots and kinks.
The nightmare of trauma is a demon to be conquered. No battle can be won without being prepared and properly armed. Armed with self-awareness, acceptance, a fixed routine, a hobby and the possibility of professional help, this psychological battle can be won.
The waves of negativity and its fallout can be switched off with some diligence. Its spontaneous destruction can be avoided with courage using a ruthless and relentless strategy consisting of the four steps outlined above.
There are other methods of annihilating this enemy! What other means would you offer? How have you defeated the crippling effects of a terrible situation? Leave a comment to let me know your answer. I would really appreciate knowing how you coped with your challenge.