Meaning Making

Question

There is so much going on in the world. My trauma feels insignificant compared to what others are going through. How do I manage that?

Answer

There is something about our current state that can make any personal trauma feel unworthy. How can I feel this pain when I have a roof over my head? When I have a job? When I am healthy? While this reframing and acknowledgement of the intensity of others’ suffering is an important empathetic response, it also can harm our own processing of the events that impact us. It is easy to be hard on yourself when you are struggling, particularly if you are not healing as fast as you would like, or if you constantly feel like you are being setback. Remember, trauma not only consists of events, but also how you experience these events and the ultimate impact it has on you based on your current supports and prior history. It is not fair to yourself to be constantly comparing the situations you have endured to others. Be gentle with yourself. Every person's trauma is unique and deserves attention. You may also find yourself questioning the validity of your trauma when you hear about the trauma stories of others either through the Our Wave site, or other platforms and mediums where survivors share their experiences. Resist the voice inside of you telling yourself that your experience “might not count” or “wasn’t that bad.” These thoughts can minimize your trauma and cause detachment from complicated emotions. While minimizing your trauma may be protective at first, it can interfere with you getting the help that you need to heal. It is important to remember that if something feels bad, it is bad. Everyone deserves help when they are struggling. It’s easy to feel guilty for feeling anything anymore, when the world is so painful for so many. For those who are silently struggling with your own trauma, know that your feelings are valid. Name it. Claim it. It is not small because it is not the trauma of others. No matter what else is appearing on news headlines or in your life, your trauma is valid. Celebrate the positive aspects of your life but allow yourself space to acknowledge the negatives too. You are not alone, but your experience is important. You matter. Next week will be our last FAQ Friday. Thank you for joining in community with us.

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