I have been having discussions lately with myself and with friends about some of the very terrible things that can and do happen. In particular the discussions are about the ugly side of what humans have done to each other.
How can one move into acceptance or better yet move on from it and let it go so that it no longer affects our life and we can begin to find pleasure again?
There are many sides to each story of trauma and we can look at:
- the one who has experienced it as having had the horrible thing done to them,
- the one(s) who have witnessed it in some way (either the act itself or the after effects),
- the one who has acted out the terrible thing.
Let’s suppose someone has done something that has left you hurt either physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually (or all of them). How do we now proceed? How do we find our way back to a place of well-being after having been deeply hurt?
One of our first instincts is to focus our attention on the person(s) who hurt us. We want to blame them for our pain. Seems logical because they did it after all!
What does focussing on the perpetrator do for us?
- Does it take away the pain?
- Does it change what happened?
- Would taking some action toward the perpetrator change what happened and would it take away our pain? (We are not suggesting that for having done something that hurts others there ought not to be consequences. We are suggesting ways for ourselves to heal after a trauma.)
Shifting Our Focus
- We cannot change what has happened.
- We cannot change the person who did this thing.
We can only change how we focus our attention and how we choose to handle ourselves and our healing. Our focus must be on ourselves – not on the other person nor on the event. Our focus must be on our healing. Part of this healing may include stopping the person from doing this thing again by taking it to the law or, depending on the situation in some other way. Part of this healing may include helping others who have been similarly traumatized.
Your Healing Process Will Be Individual To You
But the focus is on healing oneself and nothing else. No blame, no revenge, no judgement as these things do not heal pain. In fact they perpetuate it.
There will be soul-searching, acknowledging the pain, acknowledging what has happened and what one is feeling, acceptance, and letting go. The process may be repeated many times but each time will be easier and lighter until the pain no longer has a hold on you.
What About Those That Witness The Trauma?
We have all witnessed in some way horrific events and even if we are not closely associated with those involved we have thoughts and feelings about it. It affects us. We feel compassion and empathy and often we want to help the ones that are suffering. We feel anger and revulsion towards the perpetrator. We may feel unable to do anything and this affects us as well. Again we have a tendency to focus on the situation and want to blame or take out some form of revenge. Blame and revenge do not heal.
Our healing will be similar to the one who has been hurt. Again we must focus on ourselves. We must look to our own process in this and it may include doing something active to help correct the situation but the focus must be on what needs attention within.
And If You Are The One Who Has Done This Terrible Thing?
Let us be honest here – we have all done things wittingly or not out of which someone has been hurt. We may be in some form of denial to make what was done seem not so awful. We may have found ways to justify our actions. Justification is simply another way to lay blame.
How do we heal if we are the ones who have hurt others? It must start with acknowledging what has happened. We must acknowledge the reality of what we have done. Healing will again be similar to those that were hurt and often will include answering for the consequences of our actions. But the focus must be on oneself.
Looking at the depths of one’s own darkness takes great courage. As with all involved there will be soul-searching, acknowledging the pain and darkness, acknowledging what has happened and what one is feeling, acceptance, and letting go. The process may be repeated many times but each time will be easier and lighter until the pain no longer has a hold on you.
We must take responsibility for our own parts in any of these circumstances. We cannot take responsibility for anyone else nor can we know what the situation is about for them.
What we can do is look to our individual process, healing and moving forward to a brighter future.