When a trauma happens we’ve got to heal on all levels – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Before anything new can be created, something must be left behind. Many unexpected endings aren’t the ones we wanted or expected. We’re left with a boatload of emotions; body compromised, property destroyed, ‘forever’ relationships abandoned, or loved ones suddenly gone in an instant. To heal from trauma, instead of going on auto-pilot or into denial, we must revisit those events and truly process our emotions.
1. Salvation comes from facing your trauma, telling your story, and dealing with your loss. Find a safe place and describe what happened. Repeat it over and over, adding more details with each retelling while expressing the associated emotions. You must continue to tell your story until the emotional charge is gone. You can do this alone, in therapy, or with a friend. Cry. Tears are nectar. Crying is healing. It’s the body’s natural reaction to hurts and losses. You need to acknowledge your grief.
2. Express the fear and anger that surfaces physically and constructively while describing the trauma. While “reliving” the details of the event or events, it’s natural to feel tons of fear so shake and shiver that fear out of your body while reminding yourself, “It’s okay. This is just fear. I need to shiver it out of my body.”
Anger is also a huge part of the equation, reminding you of how unfair this tragedy is. You need to find a way to pound, push, shout, or stomp that justified anger energy out of your body. Do some physical activity where no one or nothing of value is destroyed and you can let yourself go. Pound hard, fast, and with abandon until you are exhausted. Catch your breath and do it again. While emoting remember that, “People, things, and situations are the way they are, not the way I think they should be.”
3. You also must say the “dreaded” G word — good-bye — to your life before the trauma in order to fully acknowledge the ending. Saying “good-bye” can be incredibly hard and usually brings up more sadness, anger, and fear. It’s painful but necessary in order to heal. “Good-bye. Good-bye.” You must continue to go over what happened until you can face it without the emotional charge.
4. During the day if you feel yourself sinking, identify whether you are feeling sadness, anger, or fear and take a few minutes to express it. (Of course, it can be more than one emotion that surfaces.) Like the proverbial onion, you’ll have to confront the depth and width of your emotions, bit by bit, to thoroughly process your trauma. Whenever you feel anxious or can’t sleep, shiver hard to dispel the energy. That could be 50 times a day at first!
5. Get support from others. It’s easy to feel isolated and different from everyone else so it’s important to find others who understand or have experienced traumatic events so you have a safe haven to share your ups and down. It’s a long healing process and you need others to help you make it through and cheer you on.
6. Rediscover your purpose. When traumatic things happen, the world as you know it crumbles and many of the things you once held dear lose their meaning. As you adjust to life after trauma and deal with your emotions, it is really important to go back and redefine your goals and purpose so that you have a new compass to guide you. Then set some little steps to move in your desired direction.
7. Facing what happened and attending to your emotions frees up energy to start to say “hello” to life again. Take tiny steps to reach out and reconnect with others. Even if you feel like a robot going through the motions, do it anyway.
It takes time to move through traumatic events. Persist and you’ll find your enthusiasm, confidence, and engagement in the world return.