Going through trauma can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But the thing about difficulties is that it’s where you learn the most. Trauma can teach you several lessons that can improve you and your life as you heal. I have collected 7 of the lessons I learned. Let’s have a look at what trauma can teach you.
Feel your emotions…
Trauma brings a lot of painful emotions. It brings feelings such as sadness, anger, frustration, grief, and fear. You might find it difficult to sit with these emotions, so you push them away. You might drink, do drugs, overwork, or in other ways, suppress the feelings to avoid the pain.
But you can’t avoid feeling them. Only delay it. When you have delayed them, they might not be expressed in a way you understand anymore. They’ll be harder to understand and deal with.
One of the lessons trauma can teach you is you’re better off feeling your emotions, no matter how painful they are. It might make today harder, but tomorrow will be easier.
… But don’t let them control you
There is a difference between feeling your emotions and letting them control you. The line is razor-thin. Most people never get to a point where they’re able to sit with their emotions without letting them take over.
It’s easy to let emotions take over your life. But if you want to heal, grow, and become a better you, you have to learn how to feel them without letting them control you.
Next time you feel anger, sadness, or another powerful, painful emotion, take a moment to sit with it. Study the feeling. How does it make you feel? Where in your body is this feeling? What is it telling you to do? Mediate on the sensations and learn from them. As you practice this, it’ll become easier to control them and not them controlling you.
Related: How to heal from trauma
Your worldview is your reality
Your brain likes to categorize everything around you according to earlier experiences. If you have good experiences with people, you probably see them as friendly and kind. If you have bad experiences with people, you see them as manipulative and evil.
The world around you changes to fit the blueprint your brain has created. If you believe that people are manipulating and evil, you’ll constantly meet people who are just that. Not because everybody is that way but because your brain is looking for confirmation of the worldview it has created.
Two people who socially and economically are identical can live in two different worlds. The difference is their mindset. It’s what creates your reality. If you believe in good, you’ll find good.
Put yourself first
People pleasing is a defense mechanism that you develop to protect yourself. To protect yourself from danger, from being abandoned, or avoid conflict. But putting others’ needs above your own is an inefficient strategy. It makes you seem boring to most, like an easy victim for abusers, and long term, it can damage your physical and mental health.
Trauma can teach you the importance of putting your own needs before those of others. To do the things you actually want to do, say no, cut the toxic relationships, and stand up for yourself. You might think that people won’t like you if you disagree with them, but no. Most people will like and respect you more. Those who won’t aren’t the people you need in your life anyway.
Be responsible for yourself
You might feel that whoever hurt you has to put you back together, but the world doesn’t work that way. Thinking like this isn’t worth anything. You have to take responsibility for yourself in everything that you do. Nobody wants to do it for you. Nobody can.
This applies to everything in life. Do you want to get an education? You have to do it yourself. Do you want to get in shape? You have to do it yourself. You have to do everything yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. You have to do the hard work yourself, but other people can help you get there. You can’t go all the way yourself, but you need to be the one taking responsibility and pushing forward.
Everything is temporary
Nothing in life lasts forever. Your feelings, relationships, and situations all have an end. Even life has an expiration date. At first glance, this might be an unsettling thought. But if this wasn’t true, life wouldn’t be worth much.
You can use this to get through the pain. Sure, you might be hurting today, and tomorrow might not be different. But at some point, you won’t feel this pain anymore. It’ll be over.
The same is true for the good times. Your happiness will pass, and people will drift in and out of your life. You can use this realization to fully enjoy the good in life. Enjoy every moment with your loved ones, enjoy every smile, and every laugh, because it won’t last forever. Cherish your life because someday that’ll end too.
Nothing in life lasts forever. That’s why you can make it through the pain and the good times feel special.
Be kind (Everybody is hurting)
Think back to a time when you were going through something difficult. You probably felt intense emotions and struggled to make it through the day. You had to function as usual. To do so, you did your best to hide the pain. The people around you, both friends and strangers, probably didn’t know how you were feeling. You were able to hide your feelings, and so are everybody else. Most people walk around with pain that no one else can see.
You don’t have to give others special treatment, but show them decency and be kind. You don’t have to walk around fixing others, but you can make sure you don’t make them feel worse.
It’s better to be alone than with the wrong people
It’s a fundamental need for people to be with other people. You need connection to thrive. But this need for connection can sometimes lead to being with the wrong people because it feels better than being alone.
You end up being like the people you spend the most time with. If you hang out with people who do nothing but self-soothe with drugs and alcohol, you’ll stay like that. Is that worth it?
Trauma can teach you that if you want to change yourself but your circle doesn’t, it’s time to move on. This might result in a period of loneliness until you find the right people. That’s okay. Because at the other end of this loneliness is a better life with better relationships. Hold on for a while, it’s going to be worth it. And who knows, you might end up enjoying your own company in the process.
Where do you go from here
Trauma can teach you a lot of lessons about life. Some come from the pain, some from healing, and others you learn when you look back at the journey. Some of your lessons might be similar to mine, and others might not. No matter what, your experience is just as valid as mine.
Be open to these lessons, and be open to new perspectives and possibilities. Use your newfound knowledge to make your life better. Take whatever value you can from your trauma and make the most of it. Nothing is so bad that it isn’t good for something.