Thriving after trauma: Is it possible?

Thriving after trauma: Is it possible?

There are usually two types of attitudes to trauma that easily get on my nerves.

The first one is the “You’ve got to feel grateful for what happened to you” attitude, because it “happened FOR you”.

Hmmmm…actually…no.

My mum’s depression didn’t happen for me. Her suicide didn’t happen for me. Growing up without my dad didn’t happen for me. Being emotionally abused by his wife didn’t happen for me.

They all just happened, they sucked and led to complex trauma.

Honestly.

We don’t need to find a gift in everything, and what happened TO us must be honoured. That’s what makes healing possible.

The second attitude to trauma that equally irritates my brain cells is the “you’re totally defined by your trauma” attitude to the point we don’t allow people to see their possibilities for a better future.

These two attitudes, although polar opposites, both keep people with hard stories and trauma stuck in powerless states for longer than they need to.

The first one bypasses our very human experience of gut-wrenching emotions, loss and pain, while the second one turns us into prisoners of the past.

That’s why I believe that the most helpful approach to trauma is a middle ground one that allows us to hold space for what happened to us and honours our pain, WHILE we intentionally nurture the possibilities of positive change both in the now and the future.

Before I share with you 5 tips that will help you approach trauma with a healthy, balanced and sustainable attitude, let’s define what I mean by ‘thriving’ so that we avoid any misunderstandings.

When I talk about ‘thriving’, I don’t hint at images of you on private jets holding 4-figure designer bags.

If that’s what’s calling you, go for it, but that’s not the type of thriving I talk about here.

To me, a truly thriving life is one of vitality, authenticity, intimacy, wellbeing, meaning and conscious prosperity. It’s one where we feel deserving of all good things and free to be and express ourselves without fear.

It’s happiness from the inside out vs. the outside in that’s so common and glorified in our culture.

& the most accurate way of determining whether we thrive or not? Our emotional states.

Do we mostly live in doubt, fear, stress and pressure? Or do we mostly live in joy, contentment, peace and gratitude?

Of course, all emotions are normal and we never get to a state where we don’t feel the heavier ones.

But when we thrive, suffering is no longer an option even in the midst of pain.

I wholeheartedly believe that thriving IS available to you, no matter who you are, what your story is and what happened in the past.

I’m not saying that the path to thriving will be easy, but no matter what path you choose, it won’t be easy, so why not choose the most rewarding one!

If you want to choose the most rewarding path of a thriving life after trauma, here are 5 tips that will help you move forward while honouring your story:

 

1. Honour your pain and authentic emotions

Your emotions are a form of energy that lives in your body and drives your behaviours, choices and decisions. Honouring your genuine emotions, including the ones you’re possibly avoiding, will guide you to priceless realisations and truths about yourself that once you accept them, they’ll get you closer to your truth. The healing power of acceptance is that liberates us from the lies we often tell ourselves and comes with the power of choice to create real change.

 

2. Understand that flexibility is your nature

The miracle of our nature as humans is that we’re extremely adaptable. The same way our identity was shaped, as we were growing up, to perfectly ‘match’ our intimate environment, in this exact way we can return to who we truly are and match what we want to consciously create in our lives now. Although trauma can challenge us like nothing else can, we often come on the other side with a sense of being that’s way more liberated, resilient, and stronger than before, because challenges can give us access to new perspectives and new ways of seeing ourselves, the world and others.

 

3. Carefully choose the ideas you accept as your truth

Everyone has the right to their own opinion, and those opinions are constantly being shared with all of us thanks to the massive growth of social media. We’re bombarded with so many ideas that we often don’t know what WE stand for. This is a big problem when dealing with trauma because it adds more to our already existing confusion. That’s why learning to choose with agency and wisely the people you allow yourself to be influenced by is huge power in today’s world.

 

4. Take responsibility for what you can control

Feeling powerless is one of the many consequences of trauma. That’s why deciding to show up for yourself with radical responsibility during your healing and thriving journey will help you be in your power. It’s likely that you didn’t have any control over what happened in the past, but now you can get your power back by consciously choosing a new trajectory in your life.

 

5. Simplify to go fast

Healing is a very complex process that’s happening inside our body by our body. Yes, your body is a genius! When it comes to our role in this process, though? It’s not as complicated as we make it to be. But when it comes to what WE need to do? They’re always simple things. The minute you realise you’re feeling lost or confused with the ‘how-tos’, it’s time to get back to the basics. The more you simplify your healing journey, the faster you’ll get there.

 

When I started my journey as a Trauma Coach, Educator and Culture Changer, I was told that I shouldn’t use the word ‘thrive’ because people who’ve experienced trauma wouldn’t connect with it.

The good news is that’s not true at all which is clearly telling me that you want to thrive, not simply survive.

But even if what I was told ended up being true, it’s what I wanted to change in the first place. That’s exactly what I CRAVED to hear when I felt unworthy of good things because of my trauma.

I want you to stop believing that what’s only available to you is a small improvement here and there, and that’s it.

I want you to start seeing the possibilities for a thriving life.

Of course, a thriving life starts with small improvements here and there, but it doesn’t end there.

It shouldn’t end there.

If you want to heal from trauma and start creating the possibilities for a truly meaningful and fulfilling life, I can help.

Just book a free consultation call to explore working with me in my hybrid programme of trauma healing, somatic therapy, and life coaching.

Let’s make your thriving happen. Together.

Photo credit: Todd Quackenbush

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Your emotions are valid, even when they make others uncomfortable

Your emotions are valid, even when they make others uncomfortable

When emotions such as anger, resentment or jealousy surface in our relationships, our first response can often be an attempt to invalidate the other person’s emotional experience so that we don’t have to deal with what’s coming up. The most common way we do this is by shaming the person who experiences the emotion, calling them things like ‘too emotional’, ‘overly sensitive’, or even ‘crazy’ and ‘psychotic’, because their experience, for whatever reason, creates discomfort within us. ⠀

In our culture, we haven’t learnt to hold space for our emotions, let alone each other’s emotional experiences.⠀

The truth is that every single emotion we have experienced since we were born is valid. This means:⠀

♦️ No emotion ever came up without something happening first. Maybe it was an event our culture considers ‘big’ or something we’d call ‘small’ – but something HAS happened, even if it is an incident that we have mainly experienced internally ⠀

♦️ The incidents we are triggered by usually happen in the present but they are also often linked to past events, without us even knowing it. So no event is insignificant and should be dismissed as unimportant if it causes an emotional reaction⠀

♦️ Despite what we’ve been taught, we’re not in control of our emotions, especially on a more subconscious level. Yes, we can certainly get a lot better at regulating them, but we will always remain human and some days will be more difficult than others – so complete emotional control does not exist (N.B. suppressing emotions doesn’t mean we’re in control of them)⠀

♦️ Holding space for someone to feel what they feel doesn’t mean we’re trying to rescue or fix them. It means truly listening to them = not judging but trying to understand what they’ve been going through with open ears, compassion, and curiosity. Sometimes, silence (active not passive) can be the best indicator that someone is giving us space to just be and feel ⠀

♦️ Emotions carry valuable lessons within them and when we deprive us or others of experiencing them we’re missing out on those lessons⠀

What lessons have emotions taught you?

Love & grace,

Effie