It's Bastille Day - French National Day - and, more importantly (haha!) my birthday. I have to say that I don't feel my age. I am feeling energised and passionate about Sharing Culture.
Recently, I have been doing a good deal of reflecting on the initiative, working on the strategy forward, and preparing a proposal ready for our new funding drive starting shortly. I just see so much potential.
And I have been reflecting on my life - which I guess we all do from time to time - realising how certain experiences have shaped to some extent who I am and where I am today. And been coming to terms with certain things. Most importantly, I feel that the next year is going to be a good one, for my family and Sharing Culture.
I have also been reading a brilliant book, Your Life After Trauma: Powerful Practices to Reclaim Your Identity by Michele Rosenthal, which has impacted on me.
Michele struggled with the effects of medically-induced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for over 25 years before achieving a full recovery. In the book, she uses her personal experiences and professional wisdom to offer readers a roadmap to overcoming their own trauma, and in particular the loss of self (or identity) that often accompanies it.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough for people suffering from trauma, or who are working with people trying to deal with trauma.
Here’s a particularly powerful long passage entitled ‘What to Expect From Your Post-Trauma Identity (and the Exercises in This Book!).’
What is written really resonated with me. Recently, I’ve been thinking about my own past, present and future, and coming to terms with things that have happened and how I have been (and am now) dealing with them. As I read these words, it was like a bright light shining!
I’ve broken down the original paragraphs into smaller chunks for you to read and think about. As I say, I highly recommend purchasing the book. If you get it for your Kindle, purchase on US Amazon (not UK Amazon) as there is a huge difference in price. You can also purchase a separate book on Michele’s fascinating Story.
‘1. Shift from powerless to powerful. If you’re struggling after trauma, you’re experiencing a sense of powerlessness, guaranteed. In this state, you will feel disconnected from abilities, talents, and skills that would allow you a feeling of being able to protect yourself.
Experiencing disempowerment means you lack confidence, a key ingredient in ably making decisions. Paradoxically, making choices is one of the quickest ways to feel empowered.
Choosing you identity offers a process for very firmly taking back control, both over who you are and also how you live.
When you choose, gain control, and shift into a state of identity efficacy, you transition out of powerlessness into an ever-growing sensation of powerfulness that alters how you reconstruct and experience your whole life.
Incorporated into these results will be a reclaiming of aspects of yourself that constitute the person you most wish to be. Sometimes that will mean going far back into the past and bringing qualities forward. Other times it will mean looking to the recent past for valuable elements you’ve mistakenly released.
Or, it may mean imagining what you wish you had a chance to possess long ago, and finally possessing it today. Last, it may include looking at characteristics you’ve accepted you wish to eliminate.
In developing your ability to make decisions and self-regulate, you will recalibrate the experience of what it means to be you. Transforming yourself from a state of discomfort to a state of comfort shifts you into a place of feeling clam, settled, confident, and in control.
All these changes reorder your self-sensations from chaos to equanimity.
2. Transform loss into connection. After trauma, many things can vanish. In addition to your sense and safety, you can lose loved ones, financial security, relationships, and spirituality, to name a few. If you loved what’s been lost, then you feel sadness, and even prolonged grief.
One of the ways we overcome these feelings is to create new experiences that restore good feelings in the areas which loss has occurred. In terms of your sense of self, that means bridging the loss of self in the past with a deep and meaningful connection in the present that lays the foundation for creating your future.
It means finding new meaning, purpose, gifts, lessons, rewards, and value in yourself and in your life.
Connection requires you to reintegrate your self-definition with your internal experience while educating others to recognize the new you. Teaching your fragmented selves to relate to each other in more dynamic and trusting relationships (which creates a sense of internal stability) becomes a key element in the process.
When you feel stable, you begin to redefine your thoughts, feeling, actions, behaviors, perceptions and desires so that your entire perspective shits to a new experience of the world and your new place in it.
With this combination of changes, you relocate the locus of control (which trauma has placed outside of your intention) inside your deliberate choices. This moves you directly into a present full of possibilities, opportunities and dreams.
3. Replace confusion with clarity. Chaos (emotionally and physically) reigns in the post-trauma experience. The lines between past, present and future; safety and danger; real and unreal; good and bad; meaningful and non meaningful.
The world looks even messier when your internal space is cluttered and overwhelmed by erroneous, flooded, overreactive, and disjointed input.
Letting outside sources – people, experiences and symptoms – define your internal landscape places perspectives that are not you at the center of who you are.
Slowing down your emotions, responses, and actions and making deliberate decisions about what you want yourself and your world to look like, helps bring the world back into focus.
Being detailed in identifying who you want to be and how you want to live creates good feelings and clear images that can be used to navigate your movement through both recovery and the world.
The result: reduced anxiety, a deeper shift to powerfulness, and a sense of safety an control that rests within you the way a pearl rests within an oyster.
The launch of the clarification process begins with how you reinstitute meaning, purpose, direction and focus. What is your mission in life? What do you feel you have to offer the world that would help someone or something?
The process of introducing yourself back as a member of society forces you to release any remaining inner rigidity. To collaborate with the world means you must enter the flow of the world at large.
Doing so refreshes your connection with both the world outside trauma and also the larger world in which you exist.
When you achieve this, you reenergize as the flow from others to you, and from you to others, creates a source of creativity , emotional sustenance, intellectual stimulation, motivation, and inspiration that comes from the larger natural forces operating throughout the world in every moment.’
>> Michele's website
>> Michele's Story