Jordan Peterson - Life is suffering, so get your act together!
How to Accept That You Are Suffering from Trauma
There may be events in your life that have a profound effect on you. Some of these may be positive, good events and situations. Others may be experiences that leave you feeling lost, overwhelmed, anxious, and traumatized. You don’t have to let these traumatic events control your life, though. You can begin to heal and move on from what happened to you. You should try to accept that you’re suffering from trauma by recognizing events that cause trauma and the signs of trauma. Then you can explore your feelings about the trauma and get support.
Learn about trauma.Before you can accept that you are suffering from trauma, it might help to understand what types of situations are generally considered traumatic. Although anything that causes you to feel a great deal of stress, fear, anxiety, or overwhelmed can be called traumatic, there are some situations that seem to have a deeper effect on a person than others.
- One-time events such as accidents, natural disasters, unexpected death or injury, being the victim of a crime, or even being humiliated can be traumatic.
- Recognize that ongoing situations like homelessness, abuse, and chronic or serious health problems are considered traumatizing.
- Trauma can happen during childhood. If it is not properly addressed early, its impact can worsen and cause severe problems during adulthood.
Be objective.Sometimes we can get so caught up in a situation that we don’t realize the effect it’s having on us. Taking a step back from a situation can help you take a different perspective on it and see the traumatic effects it might be having on you. You might need to do this in order to accept that you are suffering from trauma.
- For example, if you recently found out you have a chronic illness, you may be so engaged in getting treatment that you don’t realize that you are experiencing trauma.
- Picture the situation as if it happened to someone else. For instance, imagine that you’re hearing about the situation as a news report rather than something that happened to you personally.
- Ask yourself, “If this had happened to someone else, would I call the situation traumatic? Would I be worried that they were suffering from trauma?”
- Use a resource like the Checklist of Trauma Symptoms provided at .
Study your body's response.Trauma can cause your body to remain on “high alert,” even when there is no apparent danger present. This feeling can wear away at your both your mental and physical health. Try to become aware of how your body reacts and responds in certain environments, situations, and social atmospheres.
- If you notice that a certain place, person, or activity makes you feel tense, anxious, alert, or fearful, take note of it. Later, you may want to question why that situation made you feel that way.
- You can study your body’s response by doing a mental body scan. Lie down on a comfortable surface, and close your eyes, breathing deeply. Notice your feet first, paying attention to every detail. What do you feel? Are they cold, tense, itchy, or numb? Move up to each body part until you finally reach your head.
Keep an eye on your sleep schedule.Trouble sleeping may indicate trauma. Everyone has trouble sleeping every now and then. But, there are times that traumatic events can affect you so that you can’t sleep and get the rest that you need. If you can’t fall asleep, stay asleep, or have nightmares about the event that disturb your sleep, it may be due to trauma.
- Keep a sleep journal or log and track how well you’re sleeping. You don’t have to be too detailed; just noting what time you went to bed and what time you woke up can help.
- You can also record any dreams or nightmares you recall. Keep paper and pen close to your bed so you can jot them down as soon as you wake up.
Be aware of your anger.Anger for no reason is another sign that you may be suffering from trauma. For instance, you may find that you are constantly grumpy, short-tempered, or irritated even though nothing is wrong.Being aware of this sign that you’re suffering from trauma can help you change your attitude and address your trauma.
- Be honest with yourself if you’re in a bad mood – don’t blame someone else. For example, instead of blaming your mom for making you late, admit that you didn’t want to get up and that you’re irritable.
- Ask someone close to you if you’ve been touchy or grouchy lately. You might say, “Be honest with me. Have I been angry or irritable for really no reason recently?”
Address suicidal thoughts.Another sign that you are suffering from trauma is suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm.What happened to you may have feeling worthless or considering things you wouldn’t have before. If you are having thoughts like this you should contact a crisis hotline like 1-800-273-8255 immediately.
Pay attention to feeling isolated.After experiencing a trauma you may feel like no one understands you or that life doesn’t have the same meaning. Feeling numb, distant, or withdrawing may be signs of trauma.You may feel like you aren’t connecting to anyone or don’t want to do the things that normally give you pleasure.
- If other people mention that you aren’t around as much, listen to them. They might be telling you that you’re showing a sign of trauma.
- Ask yourself if you’ve been keeping in contact with family and friends as much as you used to. Ask if you’ve been participating in activities as much.
Handle anxiety or panic attacks.Sometimes traumatic events can cause you to have extreme physical and emotional reactions in similar situations. You may have flashbacks, trouble breathing, or feel dizzy or weak. When you haven’t had them before, anxiety or panic attacks might indicate that you’ve been through something traumatic.
- Try taking a few deep breaths to calm yourself. Slowly inhale and exhale and focus your thoughts on your breathing.
- Leave the situation that’s causing you anxiety. Take a walk or, if possible, leave the situation for good.
Exploring Your Feelings
Try mindfulness.Mindfulness is being aware of how you are feeling and what you are thinking, as well as, being present in the moment. It is accepting how you are feeling without fighting it or trying to stop the feelings. Some research suggests that practicing mindfulness can help people that are suffering from trauma.Try mindfulness meditation, a mindfulness therapy, or being mindful in everyday life to help you come to terms with the fact that you’re suffering from trauma.
- Being mindful can help you become aware of signs of trauma that you might not be noticing about yourself.
- You can practice mindfulness meditation by finding a quiet, relaxing place and sitting or lying comfortable. Focus on your breathing and the sensations of your body.
- Explore mindfulness therapies such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or mindfulness-based stress reduction.
- Be mindful in everyday life by focusing on one thing at a time, rather than multitasking. Pay attention to what you smell, hear, see, taste, and feel.
Be honest with yourself.You may be trying to convince yourself that nothing is wrong or that nothing happened, but this isn’t a good idea. Although it might be difficult, in order to accept that you’re suffering from trauma, you have to be truthful with yourself about what happened and what effects it’s having on you. You won’t be able to heal if you refuse to believe that you experienced something traumatic or that it’s negatively impacting you.
- Instead of trying to deny what’s going on with you, use what you learn from being mindful to help yourself accept that you’re suffering from trauma.
- Tell yourself, “What happened to me was traumatic. I accept that it may be having negative effects on me. I know I can work through this.”
- If you find that you’re trying to convince yourself that you’re okay, stop. You can tell yourself instead, “This is bothering me and I don’t have to pretend it’s not, but I will be okay.”
Journal about it.This can be a great way to help you accept that you’re suffering from trauma for a number of reasons.Journaling gives you the opportunity to re-examine what happened objectively. It also allows you to honestly explore how you feel about what happened and what effect the trauma might be having on you.
- Write about the event from your perspective and the perspective of an objective observer. Look for similarities and differences that may indicate trauma. For example, from your perspective the robbery wasn’t frightening. Thinking about it as an observer, though, you might realize it felt violating.
- Use your journal as a way to document any changes in yourself that you’ve noticed after the event. For example, you might write that you have been feeling irritable, tense, and have nightmares.
- Write about how you feel about possibly suffering from trauma. For instance, do you feel relieved because you better understand what’s going on with you?
Talk to a professional.You may feel that you don’t need support or that you don’t need to talk with a crisis or mental health professional. However, therapists, counselors, and other similar professionals have strategies, techniques, and experience that can help you accept that you’re suffering from trauma.They can help you cope with what is going on and move past it.
- If the traumatic event happened recently you can contact a crisis hotline like the National Youth Crisis Hotline at 1-800-442-4673 or other crisis services like the Samaritans (UK) 116 123, Rape Hotline, National Domestic Violence/ Child Abuse/ Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or your local police department.
- Ask your school counselor or the human resources representative at your job for information about counselors and therapists that can support you.
- You can also ask your physician for a recommendation. You might say, “I’d like to talk to someone about something that happened and the effects it’s having on me. Is there anyone you can recommend?”
- Talking to a therapist may worsen some symptoms at first as you confront the underlying trauma, but stick with it. Remember to practice your coping exercises and treatment plan even when you are not in your therapist's office.
Build a support team.Turning to close family and friends is a good idea when you may be suffering from trauma.They can let you know if you are showing any signs of trauma and help you accept what’s going on with you. They can also support you as a cope with and heal from the trauma.
- Talk through what happened to you with someone you trust. Just talking about it can help you accept it and feel better.
- Ask someone close to you if you’ve been showing any signs of trauma. For instance, you might ask your brother, “Have you noticed me acting differently? Do I seem withdrawn or irritable lately?”
- Be honest with your support team. You might tell your best friend, “I didn’t think the attack was affecting me at first, but now I do. Could you help support me while I try to accept this and heal from it?”
Join a support group.Talking to people who have been through similar experiences can help you accept that you’re experiencing the effects of trauma.Hearing their stories may help you understand what happened to you. In addition, they may be able to offer suggestions and strategies for accepting that you’re suffering from trauma.
- PsychCentral at has a list of support groups that can help address several different types of trauma.
- If you are seeing a counselor or therapist you can ask them about support groups in your area. You might say, “I would like to see how a support group can help. Can you recommend any nearby?”
- Consider joining an online support group or forum if you can’t attend an in-person support group.
QuestionCan I be traumatized from an event where no physical harm was done, but extreme fear was experienced?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, just because you have not been physically damaged the pain from psychological trauma can still traumatize you.Thanks!
- Remind yourself that you are a survivor of trauma, not a victim, this may make it easier to accept.
- Allow family and friends to help you accept and cope with what you’ve been through.
- If you feel the urge to hurt yourself or have suicidal thoughts you should contact a crisis hotline like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 800-273-8255 or other professional immediately.
Video: Jordan Peterson: Life is Suffering
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