self help

Acute verse Chronic: Healing from Trauma

It’s a big issue when you lose a hand at work. It’s actually pretty life changing. I mean you did have this appendage your entire life. You used it to eat, to bathe, to do pretty much everything. Now that it’s gone where do you go from here?

Well you are in the acute phase of the injury, or the post trauma healing. You have two options for this. You can either allow the loss to fester, and grow. Never learning how to get over the loss of your hand, and giving up. No one will blame you for this as you did lose your hand. However, you also have the choice to go to therapy. Work on learning how to use your other hand for everything. You go through the pain of healing, and take back your life.

We all suffer and all have loss. It’s how we deal with this trauma that allows us to either go from a acute pain to healing, or acute pain to chronic pain. Humans are meat sacks full of emotion. Worse still we have emotion that we sometimes cannot even begin to describe. This pain is life changing. Going through a divorce, being cheated on, witnessing a traumatic event, experiencing loss. These are all things that give us emotions. Emotions are often painful, or extreme.

Now most of us know that we are hardwired to deal with pain, we all have natural defense mechanisms. For me, in a difficult situation, I deal use humor. It can seem inappropriate to others, but I find that if I can laugh at a situation it helps me cope with what is going on. What happens after the coping is done, what happens when all that is left is the hole?

There are two paths, and neither is easy. I went through something hard in my life, and it’s a bit too personal to share with everyone, so I will just say that it was life changing. I was in college when this happened, and really had to come up with what my next step was going to be.

To be honest I enjoyed wearing the chip of pain on my shoulder. I liked the way it made me feel to think of myself as damaged. I let the pain define me, and I could use it to excuse my actions. The trauma I felt could be weaved in to every part of my existence, and used to show that I never really had a life at all, that my existence was just pain. It never got better and nothing changed because I never wanted to.

As time went on, I became more determined to make something of myself, and make a change in my life. I took it upon my myself to begin healing. Healing looks different for everyone, but I believe that healing pain is similar to everyone. It is like therapy after losing a limb. It takes so much to relearn how to use your body after a loss, just like it takes so much effort to learn how to live with a loss. The person going through the healing has to fight everyday, and commit everyday to make this change, to be a little better then they were yesterday.

Overcoming loss is made up of little victories that we take each day one day at a time. It hurts to move, it hurts to clean, it hurts to think about anything other then sitting back and letting the pain define us. However, each day, a little more. Then a little more, and finally a little more. After so many “one more days at a time” you will look up, and see the clearing in the clouds, and think how wonderful your life is.

Nothing worth having comes easy, nothing worth fighting for happens overnight, healing from trauma is hard. So, there it is. We can say you don’t know my pain, and can’t even begin to understand my suffering, and let it fester or we can try to heal one step at a time.

Listening but Not Hearing

If you ever get the chance read How To Win Friends and Influence Others I highly recommend it. Not only does the book explain the importance of perspective it covers a huge issue as to why people cannot get along. Personally I have found that the book helps with a number of issues I have had with others in the past. Most of which stemmed from a lack of communication, and understanding of another persons perspective.

There is that word again, perspective, that I constantly talk about. It is the word that I will continue to use when attempting to create a tool box for others to use when tackling the issues that they face. Perceptive is the first thing that we should think of when we are getting into an argument, or a situation that needs leverage.

I am horrible when it comes to hearing my wife. I can listen to her, but ultimately I will challenge what she says, and try to negotiate to my side of thinking, because I believe that I am naturally right. It has been like this ever since we started dating years ago. I would push us toward a fight because I really wasn’t hearing what she was trying to say to me.

My wife hates to work. She once told me that she didn’t want to work, that if she could she wouldn’t. Now instead of asking what she meant, or even giving her a chance to discuss what she meant I immediately started in on her asking her if she thought that I was going to be the only one to make ends meet. This exploded into a argument, and that fight followed into the night.

After a few days she brought up the topic again that she didn’t want to work, and I was at a point that I knew that this could lead to a fight, so instead I just asked her what she meant by this. She started talking about how all of her life she felt that she wanted to do more, and a normal 9 to 5 job wasn’t the life she wanted to life. She wanted more.

She wasn’t telling me that she was unwilling to work, or even that she wasn’t capable of helping out our family she was saying that she wanted more for us, and wanted to know how we could go about this. How we could change our lives from the normal 9 to 5 to something that resembled a life worth living. This was literally why we started the blog in the first place to create a life worth living, and I shot her perspective down because I wasn’t hearing her.

In the book How to Win Friends and Influence Others it talks about taking this step back to gain an understanding of what the other person is actually trying to say. If we first have an understanding of what we are talking about then we can move forward on our perspective. If we are just listening to answer we are not hearing what the person is offering to us.

I deal with conflict on a daily basis, and if I do not take what the person is saying into mind, and try to understand their problem all I am doing is adding to their suffering like I did with my wife. People are complicated, and will at times be unable to be truly open about what they’re going through. Even after knowing my wife for eight years there are somethings that she has a hard time opening up about, and I to her. If I assume what she is trying to say without really knowing then I cannot make a difference in our lives.

As a couple we have a lot to work on with communication, and taking the other person’s perspective in mind. However, taking that step back, and hearing the other person will help make a difference in each other lives.

Commitment to Yourself

This will be a fairly brief post. The mission of a Work in Progress (A-WIP) is to better ones self. I have, in previous posts, outlined what this means to me. Through photography, philosophy, and creative writing I find the best way to live for me. I share this better self of me on this blog as an example of taking control of my life. Now this this idea of being better is different for everyone. Here at A-WIP we want everyone to reach that ideal self, and we believe the only way to do this is to make a commitment to yourself.

I want say this as gentle as I can, but this commitment cannot have excuses. I know that many people suffer from issues be that of mental, or physical and my goal isn’t to mitigate those issues. However, saying I cannot because of _____ just tells me that you have a crutch that you cannot let go of yet. To make a commitment to oneself is to know that these issues may affect us, but should not control us. There is the difference.

To make a commitment to yourself first find out what it is you want out of life. For me it is to live an accepting Christian lifestyle, this could be different for you, but what does life look like to you in the future? Who do you see yourself being?

Know what challenges are ahead for the choices that you make and create a plan for overcoming those challenges. If you aren’t sure what challenges await then at least create good coping skills for when issues arise.

Finally when you create this commitment let us know, and let us know your progress. If anything we want to be supportive of you in your journey along with us in becoming our best selves.

SCREW THE HOMELESS

Screw the homeless, what an awful thing to say right? So, what exactly brought you here? Was it the title, Screw the Homeless?

If it was the title did you feel outraged at the prospect that someone could have such an awful view of a group of people? Did you feel that you had to correct that view in order to better the world? Was it personal for you, did it create an injustice that had to be corrected? What if the title was “Help the Homeless”, would you have felt the need to read this blog post the same as when the title was inflammatory?

So, if this article isn’t about the homeless what is it about? Basically that we will become provoked at inflammatory words (screw the homeless) verse the actual issue, homelessness.

When we see something that is inflammatory like Screw the Homeless we feel the need to correct that person’s view. It’s similar to being on a Facebook page, and arguing with a person through comments. We aren’t actually solving the issue. We are simply fighting this person because they are wrong and in our eyes that is an injustice worth fighting for.

There are problems that exist in the world, and everyone can acknowledge that there is an issue. Finding a solution takes time, money, workers, and support from the community. Take homelessness for example. Homelessness exists and so does the penny tax. We could use that penny tax to build a shelter, fund volunteers, and work on the issue of homelessness. However, we could also use that tax to build something that the community wants, like a new recreation center or a community park. Now there is the issue, do we want a homeless shelter, or do we want something that pleases us?

This creates a duality issue. Do we help the homeless? I mean we all agree (well most of us) that we certainly don’t hate homeless people. Do we help ourselves? The homeless after all picked the life they are living, right? No one becomes homeless in a day, it’s a lifelong issue, and will take lifelong solution to fix.

What do you think is right? I wont judge, but if you were angry at me for saying screw the homeless, and I come up with a way to help the homeless, but you’re not on board because it takes something from you, why were you even mad in the first place? You were mad because the words were inflammatory, and that was a worse injustice to you than homelessness, that’s it.

Now I’m not saying You specifically are the issue, or that any of this applies to you, but you understand the concept? We get mad at other people for their views on an issue, when we don’t even care enough about the issue enough try and solve it in the first place. This may be true in your life, or may not be. I’m not someone to judge either way, all I am saying is if we care enough about something to get upset when someone disagrees with us, then shouldn’t it motivate us when someone is doing something that helps what we care about?

If there are two people holding two signs, help the homeless, or screw the homeless. Which one do you think you should talk to now? The guy who’s going to help them, or the one who just hates them?

Toxic Positivity

This is a rather odd idea, how can someone being positive be toxic? We know that usually a toxic person is someone that brings us down. They might be extra critical of others, have strong views that they over share, or just are a generally negative person. A toxic person is someone that most of us try to avoid for our own sake, and sanity. How can they ever be positive?

Toxic positivity is the act of always encouraging positivity, but never allowing for processing. When we go to our friends and ask them for help, usually the last thing we want them to say is your fine just get over it. I’m obviously not fine, and that is why I wanted your help.

In a sense it is like when someone says that they are depressed or stressed, and someone answers with, just be happy or calm down. This is not a solution to the problem, but it mitigates the problem. That isn’t fair to do to someone else. Mitigating their problems is an issue because what they are going through may be the hardest thing for them.

I see this a lot in the church and I am just as guilty of it as anyone else. Someone may come up to me with a problem, and my response might just be, well you should pray about it. Yes, of course they’re going to pray about it, but that isn’t why they came to me. They wanted fellowship, and someone to listen. Just saying, well you should pray about it, mitigates their problem.

We all like to use comparisons. You think you got it rough, well look at them. This type of thinking is unfair to those that are suffering. If two people break an arm in the same spot doing the same thing, but one person has a broken arm every other week, and the other never has had a broken bone, who felt the worse pain?

Our pain may be relative to our situation, but it is no less troubling than if it was happening to someone else, or someone “stronger.” We are shaped by our pain and through our suffering we learn. I would hate for someone to learn through their suffering that they cannot count on me to be there for them because I mitigated their situation.

Just get over it

Go pray about it

You know I had it rough

Just be happy

Everything will be ok

These are positive things to say, but it isn’t what the person suffering wants or needs to hear. Instead of thinking of a response to say, don’t say anything at all. Let the silence be the response, I hear you. Sit close with them, and when they are done ask them, Is there anything I can do to help? If the person says no then you can tell them that, I know it is hard, but I believe in you. God believes in you.

Empower the weak, empower the suffering, empower those who are going through a hard time and feel like they are drowning. They deserve to have comfort in their suffering just like you did. Don’t mitigate what one person feels because you think it could be worse, understand that we all suffer. Why does God have us love our enemies? Because they are human like us, they suffer like us, they feel pain like us, they need help like us. Be a force of good for someone, but do it in a way that empowers that person no matter who they are or what they face.

Also remember there are of course the outliers as well. People who create suffering to feel empathy from others. For situations like that, do your best. They suffer in other ways.

Kierkegaard and Mindfulness

Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness

-Matthew 6:33

Soren Kierkegaard in Skrifter vol 11 (maybe the correct citation) meditates on the above paraphrased verse in his writings, discussing the deeper meaning of the words. In short, he discusses that one must first seek the Kingdom of God, and this is accomplish by silence. Silence, according to Kierkegaard, is the first and most important goal in seeking the Kingdom of God.

To Kieregaard dropping everything for God is not the first step to seek the Kingdom of God. The first step is to be silent. To be silent, and to make yourself nothing before God. In this silence we arrive at the beginning, and this beginning is where we seek God.

Yet, what is this silence? If Kierkegaard states that silence is being prepared for the opportunity when it arrives, then isn’t mindfulness the same thing? It’s just another word for the same thing, and we know that mindfulness by itself isn’t spiritual. Rather it is an inward observation. By knowing ourselves we can better seek the Kingdom of God.

In our mindful/silent lives we make ourselves ready to serve God when the time comes. In this meditation we ready our inward self to serve. How can we serve God if our own lives are not in control? First seek the Kingdom of God. By first seeking the Kingdom we learn to be silent/mindful, and we take control of our lives.

God calls everyone to different things. Silence and inward observation gives us clarity to what those things are. The first step toward God is to become mindful of your own life, understanding of your weakness, to become nothing, so that God may use you for his will. The freedom to follow God starts with getting control of ones life. To understand your part in the world, and to be accepting of it.

I can work for God, and do great things for him, but first I must seek the Kingdom of God.

There is No Proof of God

There is no proof of God.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon, and that is why we have faith.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon, and that is the point of having faith.

If God came down every Sunday to all the churches of the world who could justify not being a Christian? If God performed miracles in front of live concerts played for the entire world, who would not believe? We would all try to be faithful, we would all follow the word of God, but what would be the motivation?

If we had objective proof of God then we would have objective proof of hell. We would have proof of an afterlife, and a reason to do good. When there is a reason that is objective to do good will we not do good, or least attempt good?

If you knew that you could steal a cookie from the cookie jar as a child wouldn’t you do it? Wouldn’t you at least be tempted by it? If your mother stood by the cookie jar, then that takes away the motivation to even begin with. You couldn’t dream of stealing the cookie as there is a capable person there to stop you.

God cannot objectively exist, and there can be no objective proof of God for if there there was then we would all act well. We would all act good, and follow commands to the best of ability. There wouldn’t be a questions of faith. How could anyone love by God by choice if we all knew he existed. We would all want heaven, not to be a better person, but to avoid suffering in hell.

Some say that they know God exists, I don’t. I try to have faith, but I am not convinced that there could be an afterlife. There certainly is a lot of evidence of one not existing. So, why am I a Christian verse a agnostic, or spiritualist?

The reason I am a Christian, even though there is no objective proof of God, is that I love God, real or not real. I choose to live by a moral standard, and attempt a good life. I do this not because it benefits me, but because I want to be a good person.

Now anyone can argue that “religion” has caused more suffering than good. That one doesn’t need a religion to be a good person, and that all of it is subjective to the situation. I would argue that if someone can find a more profound message than love your enemies, and provide for them, then I will follow that message.

This is why I choose Christ: love your enemies, feed the poor, be humble, and know that no matter what you are loved. I don’t have to do any of those things. In fact it’s rather detrimental to my own life if I do follow them. My enemies want to hurt me, why should I love them? Because you love all people, and understand that everyone has a perspective. That they are human to, that they suffer, and matter just as much as I do.

With objective proof of God you could easily be a Christian because you know your life was justified.

Without objective proof of God it becomes harder to be a Christian because you don’t know if it is justified, and you choose to limit yourself. I’m ok with that. I’m ok with that because I want to make a leap of faith, to stare down the absurd universe.

I am a Christian not because I want heaven, but because I love God.

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