• Gianna Sullivan

Moving Past Trauma To Happiness

Trauma words from wooden blocks with letters, physical or mental injury trauma concept, white background.

A traumatic event can feel like an obstacle to true happiness. When something happens that harms, upsets, or distresses you, you can feel as though that event stays with you, the lasting effects disrupting your life and making it difficult for you to be happy. However, moving past trauma to happiness is possible.

Why is Moving Past Trauma So Hard?

17th October is celebrated as world trauma day

Trauma comes in many forms; traumatic experiences are an unfortunate part of our reality. They may take the form of a life event such as the loss of a loved one, an accident, or an illness. They may be the result of the actions of another person, such as mistreatment, abuse, or assault. Whenever a person experiences trauma, there are repercussions. How severe or long-lasting these repercussions might be will depend on many things. There is no right way or wrong way to feel after you have experienced something traumatic. You can never compare your experience to that of someone else. It isn’t helpful or healthy to think that your trauma doesn’t matter because other people have experienced something ‘worse.’ How trauma affects you will depend on so many different immeasurable factors; the first step in moving past trauma is to accept that it is there and that it is ok for you to feel how you feel.

How Does Trauma Feel?

Woman in a daze from a traumatic experience.

How do you know if what you are feeling is the result of trauma? How does this differ from feelings of sadness, helplessness, or anxiety that are caused by other things? Immediately after a traumatic experience, it is normal to feel shock. This can leave you feeling numb, or a bit ‘out of it, a dazed feeling as though you aren’t quite experiencing reality. You might feel a sense of denial, refusal to accept what has happened. You might convince yourself - really believe - that you are fine, and you might even be able to continue with everyday life as though nothing has happened. However, in time, shock and denial tend to give way to other feelings; feelings of anxiety, fear, and helplessness. Many people also feel ashamed or guilty, as though they have done something wrong or brought this situation on themselves. There is often a sense of anger as well; you may feel angry about the situation or those involved with it, or you may feel a more general sense of anger at the world. There can be physical symptoms of trauma beyond these feelings; many people find themselves experiencing sleep problems (including nightmares), noticing changes in appetite, having trouble thinking clearly or remembering things, and even suffering from aches and pains or tension headaches.

Managing Feelings and Moving Past Trauma

Crying emoji, you must allow your emotions to surface in order to move past trauma to happiness

Before you can start moving past trauma, you have to deal with it. Ignoring the problem and bottling up your feelings will not enable you to move past it. The only way to move past it is to deal with it directly.

  • Time to Heal - Moving past trauma takes time. You cannot rush the process of accepting what has happened and finding ways to manage the feelings it has caused. It is so important to be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time you need to heal slowly.

  • Talk it Out - Allowing yourself to talk about the experience with people you trust can allow you to express your feelings and thoughts and gain valuable insight. If you find it difficult to share these things with someone you know, then read on about professional help that is available to provide you with a safe space to talk.

  • Face Facts - As difficult as it may be, facing the facts about what happened can be a crucial part of the healing process. This might mean finding out more about the situation, talking to other people who were involved, or simply not allowing yourself to avoid people, places, or situations that remind you of it.

  • Allow Tears - Don’t bottle up your emotions. If you do feel as though you need to cry, then allow yourself. It is not weak or foolish to cry. It is a perfectly healthy expression of emotion and can be helpful in the grieving process.

  • Practice Good Self Care - look after yourself by ensuring you are eating well, sleeping well, drinking plenty of water, getting exercise, and taking time out to do things you enjoy. Try to make sure that you do not neglect friendships or family relationships or abandon hobbies. Even though you may not feel like doing these things, they can really help you manage trauma.

A Word of Warning

'Small steps every day' in order to move past trauma to happiness

When a person has experienced a traumatic event or is in the process of grieving, they sometimes turn to coping strategies that they feel are helping them to start moving past trauma but which are actually holding them back. It may be tempting to throw yourself into your work or hobbies or take on lots of extra responsibilities to keep you busy and distracted. Instead, you need to reduce the workload and give yourself time to work through those thoughts and feelings. Some people look for comfort in alcohol, drugs, gambling, or risky sexual activity. This might be a welcome distraction from thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma, but it can lead to both major physical and mental health problems. While distracted from the trauma, the trauma is not healing; it is there in the background, waiting to flare up. The only way of moving past trauma is by acknowledging it.

Professional Help for Trauma

Girl talking to a psychologist in order to move past her trauma to happiness

If you are struggling, then it is so important to understand that you are not alone. You are not the first person to feel like you do, and you will not feel like this forever. There is always help available if it feels like you cannot manage the feelings you are having or if it feels like the difficult feelings are persisting for a long time. Consider talking to your doctor or seeking out a trained professional if you are experiencing overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiety. If you find yourself using unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking alcohol or using drugs, or if your feelings are affecting your day to day life and you are having trouble sleeping, eating, doing your work, or caring for yourself or your family, then it is so important to reach out for help. Moving past trauma is possible, but sometimes our experience of trauma and the feelings we are left with makes us feel like things cannot possibly get better. Just as a doctor is trained to help heal physical problems, there are people who can help us heal from difficult trauma.

Begin your journey now and Fast Track yourself to Happiness