Everybody wants sunshine, nobody wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain. Anonymous.
Loyal followers – who don’t know me personally – may be wondering why my blogs went from full happiness focus to a focus on happiness during times of adversity. It’s like one day I woke up and while the element of happiness was still there, it went from being happy and bouncy to tackling some pretty serious issues with a theme of maintaining happiness during tough times.
Two years ago, when I started Happiness Weekly, I was a very happy person. I was also very naive. I believed that there was only good in this world. Not only that, I believed that as long as you believed that there was only good this in this world then that’s what you would attract – just like The Law of Attraction, right?
Since then I’ve learned first-hand that psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists exist. And even if you don’t want to believe it, they’re very real and they roam the planet just as a normal healthy human being. It terrifies me to not only know, but to have experienced first-hand, that some people feel empowered by making other people feel miserable.
I’m not tainted. I’m not jaded. I’m not bitter.
I’ve learned quickly to accept this.
But instead of promoting happiness as a way of life, I decided I wanted to equip people to survive times of adversity and to facilitate their happiness and assist their inner glow to shine through during these harder times.
Through surviving my own adversity, and getting back up, I finally know who I am. I stand tall. I’m confident. And I share with others from a place of confidence and sympathy.
So Happiness Weekly has evolved as I have.
My posts for the next little while will be filling in the dates I missed while I was away, as well as posting so that we’re back up to date. Each week I will try to release two posts until I’m back on schedule – I apologise if I miss a week, my priority is now on the next chapter. To stay on top of what has been released, you’re welcome to follow my blog by email, you can keep an eye on the Facebook page or you’re always welcome to contact me.
I want to leave you with this: never stop learning. Never give up. Once you think you know, you’ll discover there’s more to know.
Stay in the driver’s seat of life and keep moving forward.
A man speaking sense to himself is no madder than a man speaking nonsense not to himself. Tom Stoppard
So there I stood, in front of my bathroom mirror, sobbing. It was May 2014. By this point I’d laughed at the consequences of what happened to me last year – but often I still cried over how it got to that point – and that’s the result of the trauma I suffered:
“I did everything right! But no one did anything to protect me!” I told my reflection.
“The police didn’t do anything. My parents didn’t do anything. The lawyer didn’t do anything.”
I stopped for a second and in complete frustration I screamed at my reflection:
“YOU didn’t do anything!”
It was at that moment that I put the BED-time story to rest. Oh my god, I’m talking to myself – am I going mad? This week Happiness Weekly looks at why victims of trauma should talk themselves through it as well as seeing a therapist. AND! I share some good news about trauma with you.
- No one understands what you’ve been through better than you
I have a buddy who had a very similar experience to what I have had and she has been there for me every step of the way – and vice versa. The friends I have allowed into my life this year have all been outstanding – they’re consistently supportive and understanding and they listen to me, even when I repeat my story or go over aspects of the events. They’re very patient. But no one experienced what I did. No one was there except for me. And it’s when I realised that instead of bashing myself up for what I went through and taking too much responsibility for the outcome, if I started talking to myself as I would my best friend who went through the same set of circumstances and had the same complaints and upsets as I was experiencing, then I was able to be kinder to myself and help support and encourage myself in moving on. I decided to ditch any even slight need for external validation in order to get me through, but instead I shifted to a dependence on my intuition and internal validation. If I thought it or felt it, that was my reality and I’d respond accordingly instead of doubting myself. That conscious decision to start really listening to myself helped me to step forward and really focusing on my healing journey and tackling my trauma head on.
- You could have an epiphany that puts your BED-time story to rest
What happened in my experience mentioned above is that in talking to myself, I was able to acknowledge and drop the story riddled with blame, excuse and denial (BED) all at the same time. Instead, it made me realise it’s done. There’s nothing I can do to undo it or take it back. It’s not that I care about the consequence but I’ll forever be hurt by how I got forced into being “punished” in a way. It’s the way that I got set up that constantly reappears through nightmares and flashbacks. That’s what I go over and over when I speak to people or myself. Once I was able to recognise the BED-time story – I didn’t have to accept it – but I could make myself a promise for how I would ensure it would never happen to me again (which would test and hopefully regain my self-trust), I could start taking responsibility for my part in what happened to me that lead me to such trauma and I was able to start considering strategies for how I could move forward from there.
- The only way to overcome trauma is to release it
Talking about it will release it. Often victims of trauma will go over and over the same scenario. They will talk about it over and over to people. They’ll repeat the same story and the same facts. It’s almost like someone who is suffering from some kind of memory loss, only they know you know, but they can’t resist but talk about it. It’s not that the victim is looking for external validation but they’re doing it for the release. If you have a friend who is a victim of trauma and going over the same story, be patient – don’t stop them – and remain completely neutral about what they’re saying. Before you suggest anything, ensure it’s helpful.
The good news about trauma?
Trauma doesn’t have to be negative. Positive Trauma and Post Traumatic Growth have been established as ways of not only moving on from a traumatic event in a positive way, but actually being able to celebrate your achievements since suffering from the consequences of your traumatic event in taking control again. It’s a concept that was introduced by scholars in the early 1990s.
According to Wikipedia, Post Traumatic Growth is also known as “benefit finding” – there are so many different names for it – it refers to the positive psychological change experience as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life experiences. This is where you can actually use the power of choice to decide if you want your experience to make you bitter or better, and then use your time to move in that direction – but feel empowered that you do have a choice in what happens from here.
Although I continue to struggle with my traumatic event, fortunately for my love of being consciously optimistic, I have been able to focus on how I can make my negative experience to filter the most positive and inspiring outcome I could. Instead of returning to the baseline of where I was before I suffered, I worked hard to get qualifications that would help me assist others who go through what I just went through, and share my story with as many people as I could to provide education for others. And that’s what it’s about. Post traumatic growth is about using the experience to improve yourself and others. It’s the difference between surviving something and actually using it to thrive and be better than you were to start.