This article has been written for people who suffer from PTSD or know someone who does. At the age of 23 I was diagnosed with PTSD. As a result I made it my personal mission to get myself to a point where I could support young people, service men and women who suffer from PTSD (for free).
In this practical “how to” post, you’ll find the insights required to help yourself or a person suffering from PTSD to get through “personal hell” and come out better for the experience.
On my own journey I’ve represented Sweden in the European Parliament, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, provided and still providing support to people who suffer… The insights provided are proven to work: (Thanks and credit to Steve King) https://www.oneeducation.org.uk/course/ptsd-cleaning-and-clearing-shock-and-trauma/
I changed my priorities about what is important in life.
- What’s important in my life is being true to my values – values guide my behavior, they insist I take the next right step. For example, if I’m dishonest then my behaviour won’t change, and the reputation I have with myself will suffer.
- In the early stages of recovery, emotionally fuelled reasoning can be avoided via the application of value driven behaviour. Asking, is what I’m about to do exhibiting (to myself) the necessary honesty, open mindedness and willingness required to complete my mission of recovery and growth?
- If it is, great – if not – it’s a no go.
- Practicing value driven behaviour helps build your self efficacy – helping you trust in your ability to be consistent to your prior commitment.
- Violate this principle and you’ll not only be in disagreement with yourself, life will be in disagreement with you. Why? Failure to live up to the promises you make to yourself is rightly met with no reward, and oftentimes energy/ time consuming punishment.
- Let’s be clear about this, pain and punishment for falling short is not a hindrance, it’s a gift which will be of great value when you use falling short as the trigger you require to reconnect with the present (pain).
- Accepting you fell short,
- accepting suffering as a necessary teacher,
- retaining deliberate conscious awareness of the suffering until it subsides is the easiest way I’ve found to change my behaviour.
- recovery has a cost, it’s felt pain… not recovering has a TERRIBLE cost it’s called chronic suffering… when I realised that felt pain was the short cut – it became possible for me to begin accepting the pain – reducing psychological and emotional suffering as a result.
- Does it sound hellish?
- Look and listen here my friend… you’re going to go and get through hell by maintaining a straight line… let’s put this another way, you’re going to get through hell by maintaining a straight line. Value driven behaviour will keep you moving in a straight line. Winston Churchill once quipped, “if you’re going through hell, keep going”… he missed a part.. “If you’re going through hell, keep going – IN A STRAIGHT LINE”.
- Please pause and feel your way through this piece of advice… it took me years to capture this understanding, I hope it takes you seconds or days to do the same.
- “Walk the line” – Johnny Cash… same message, different tune, you’ll find your own tune by walking and when necessary protecting your own line of value, (I recommend support in establishing and maintaining your working values).
I have a greater appreciation for the value of my own life.
Love, Intelligence, Fortitude, Experience.
- If you don’t love yourself you don’t know or understand yourself well enough (yet) – you’ve got to survive until the miracle happens… I don’t know whether or not I should provide you with the following insight as it took me 22 years to get this… YOU ARE THE MIRACLE. Perhaps you can’t connect with this at the moment… it’s okay. You’ll get there with value driven behaviour.
- So you need intelligence AKA feedback – as long as you’re staying true to yourself = values, and the core goal in everything you do is to grow as a result of living your program of recovery = being the message/ the change you wish to bring to the world, you’ll expand a field of experience which narrows the path for you.
- Please consider this, the more experience you gain, the narrower your behaviour becomes, the greater the freedom you gain… “the path narrows”, why is that?
- On the narrow value driven path you can do whatever you want with peace of mind, because whatever you do on the value driven path won’t disrupt/ prolong your journey through hell.
- Fortitude: The pain you’re experiencing is necessary for your recovery – the lessons you encounter will reveal your greatest mental, emotional and physical weaknesses – receiving these lessons with acceptance, humility and gratitude will provide you with the ability to eradicate/ let go of anything which could weigh you down or hold you back.
- The journey through hell demands every unnecessary pound of flesh you’ve been carrying, your backpack, your boots and your bravado.
- The good news is, stripped away of all that is unnecessary you’re necessarily ready to re-equip and re-boot yourself for a world where you’re mentally and emotionally fitter, faster and stronger. Yes, you are the I’m in impossible – I’mpossible – you’re possible above and beyond your present conceptions.
- Ask anyone who stuck around until the miracle happened… the only way you’re going to get there is by learning to be there, you’re going to be there through walking the line with values as your guide.
- Experience: The experience you have as you go through hell will teach you more about what you aren’t than what you are… this comes as a great relief to understand this, as it’s what we aren’t which gets in the way of connecting with the truth of who we are.
- You may be scared of the truth of who you are… this indicates you don’t know yourself yet, more miles to go? Keep going – straight.
I have developed new interests.
- Your new interests should be viewed as investments – can you justify your interest as an investment which will help you move through hell faster?
- Example: Any sport or pastime which requires you work with and engage with the present moment is justifiable. Any purchase which supports your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and by implication keeps you conscious and responsible for making your way through hell will likely be a good investment.
I have a greater feeling of self-reliance.
- Feelings of self reliance are a result of learning not to break or go against the promises you make to yourself. You don’t want to play a game of recovery snakes and ladders… The self worth and reliance you seek is won by refusing to play dice with the devil.
- When you have nothing else, you have your values… if you have your values you have the ability to choose one attitude over another – this is “the last of the human freedoms, the ability to choose one attitude over another”.
- From another angle:
- “To he who has everything, everything will be given and to he who has nothing everything will be taken away”. In other words, if you have yourself you’ll gain a lot, if you don’t have yourself you’ll lose everything.
- In terms of recovery/ getting through hell… your values are everything. Hell will force you to own your values – For example, I didn’t necessarily become a good person because it was the right thing to do – I became a good person because it was the only reasonable choice.
I have a better understanding of spiritual matters.
- I don’t understand spirituality, but I do understand practicality… it’s a practical imperative for you to be good as to be any other way leads to no good. There’s nothing and no one high minded here – as Oscar Wilde said, “A moral man is a liar and a moral woman is ugly”.
- I can be both a liar and ugly, understanding and accepting this I’ve gained the freedom to be neither. Why? The game of pretend morals is like a rocking chair that keeps you busy while you get nowhere…
- Moral actions do not require you to be a man of morals, do the right thing because it’s best for your mental and emotional health and you’ll engender the same in those around you – “wellbeing is contagious, it spreads and changes…”
- If you find yourself judging another, this is your mind’s way of informing you of your own self judgement. In fact, I would argue that this is one of the best psychological mind hacks there is – any negative appraisal of others is a trigger designed to highlight what we’re hiding from ourselves.
I more clearly see that I can count on people in times of trouble.
- Your ability to count on others to come to your aid will become enhanced when you practice coming to your own aid on a daily basis. Meditation, exercise, education… you’ve got to educate yourself out of pain through bringing the help to yourself which you would otherwise ask for or seek out.
- When you’ve done all you can do and you’re still falling short… you go to the meeting table as a warrior, you’ve earned your place… the conversation you have when you ask for help will lead you to get the help you need – instead of the help your weaker self would have wanted
- HUGE DISTINCTION: What you want without making any effort is different from knowing what you need having made the effort.
- Bringing this last point to life:
- With the mindset of “no one is coming to rescue me”, people will want to help, not because you need it but because you deserve it.
- Everyone wants to help the winner because the winner can count on themselves too, receive then pay forward the help you receive.
- Note: If you fail to give back what was so freely given to you, your recovery will suffer – people will sense you’re a taker and they’ll take back the thing you need the most – connection, engagement and love. These three factors are as important as food and water. Put another way, without the U and I in UNIty… we die.
I established a new path for my life.
- Your new path is a result of taking the journey from the head to the heart. Recovery isn’t what you think, recovery is how you feel.
- Your new path is the road less travelled – it’s a relatively easy proposition to grasp, if there’s a 1-25 chance of post traumatic growth, all you need to do is what the other 24 aren’t prepared to do. Re-invent yourself by adopting values which will drive you towards mission fulfilment… If you want to make this even easier, add a purpose which transcends your own self-centred interests…
- For example: I decided age 23 to prevent at least one person going through the hell I went through. How this helped? I could overlook my own pain as I wasn’t as important (at that time) as the tens of thousands of people who were suffering or about to begin suffering.
- Getting up of the canvas even when you can’t is the mark of a champion.
- Please consider this last point because it’s multi-faceted.
I have a greater sense of closeness with others.
- The closer you come to yourself the closer you’ll be to others, I believe this to be a law of human nature… Understanding your true(r) nature you’ll be less prone to judgement and more prone to love. At the start you may find it easier to love others more than yourself – this is why you need a community of people around you who will love you until you can love yourself… Finding a great program like the one created by our friend Steve King is essential: https://www.oneeducation.org.uk/course/ptsd-cleaning-and-clearing-shock-and-trauma/
I am more willing to express my emotions.
- Your emotions represent the truth of your experience not necessarily the truth of the moment or the world – with honest self expression we get to adjust our reality in real time 🙂
I know that I can handle difficulties.
- If you swim fifty meters a day, you know you can swim twenty five meters. Life’s tests, difficulties and challenges are preparing you for your own version of the Olympic Games…
- The competition hasn’t fought like you have, the competition hasn’t fought anyone like you… they haven’t swam upstream for years… they haven’t truly found that there’s no break in them. You know there’s no break in you because now, just for today you can tell yourself that your thoughts will be on your recovery – it’s this very act which surmounts the idea of their being a break…
- There’s only a break in concentration… or a break in the game.
- Your choice, you’ll become concentrated or weakened by a premise you hold to be true – millions of other people have succeeded – so why not me, why not you?
- If you can’t answer “why not me”, you don’t know yourself well enough yet, there is no break within you – I couldn’t say this to you if I were unsure. Please be kind to yourself and work from the premise you’re equipped with what you need – “look within, there is a source of strength that will arise if you always look”.
- Please contemplate “why not me”, as it’s up to you to DECIDE and re-decide until you own your decision, “be enough”.
I can do better things with my life.
- You can love others in the way that you would be loved – there is no greater thing.
I am better able to accept the way things work out.
- This is the benchmark for sanity IMO, “I can control the ship but not the sea.”
- If I’m hit by a tsunami, a hurricane, a missile… my ship will likely be destroyed and I will likely die… but I’ll do my best to maintain my presence of mind, to execute best practice behaviour, to become one with the storm – this is the only reasonable choice.
- That said, in recovery it’s necessary to be aware of the fact that we may actually be the storm ourselves…
- Own the damage created by the storm, pay for your lesson not to repeat itself.
I can better appreciate each day.
- Each day is a lifetime, the phoenix is a great example of this… burning brightly then becoming ashes… each day, my wish for you is that you will burn with the inner fire of resolve when faced with your days challenge and when night comes, you’ll allow whatever lies to, or within you to die and rest in peace.
New opportunities are available which wouldn’t have been otherwise.
- If you turn up for the day an hour earlier than your contemporaries, you work an hour later than them, you suffer the inhospitable in the name of gaining freedom through working and educating yourself out of poverty (not feeling like you’re enough) or pain… the opportunity which presents itself will be commensurate with the investment you have made within yourself.
- If you don’t get the opportunity or the reward then at least you’ll be the best version of yourself which in effect is the reward you seek as it’s the key to the greatest you = greatest good.
I have more compassion for others.
- Realising that “everyone suffers and everyone sometimes pretends not to suffer”, we’re more careful in our assessments, considerate in our dealings and measured in our actions.
I put more effort into my relationships.
- Your relationships are your life, the relationship and investment you have with yourself will naturally lead you to invest in those you love and care about, and they you… as this process leads you to become less self centred you’ll find your efforts are rewarded… motivating you to invest further.
I am more likely to try to change things that need changing.
- Unlike a tree, you’re not fixed to a position any longer… yet you’re rooted in your positively developed values… your values drive the change you want to see and be in the world.
I discovered that I’m stronger than I thought I was.
- Going to the gym of life six days a week will prove you’re stronger than you thought you were. Going through hell is about as perfect a set of resistance exercises one can hope for… remember to get help/ a spotter for the heavy lifting! Take a day off once per week, recovery and reflection will bring you strength which you can’t attain via continuous action.
I learned a great deal about how wonderful people are.
- Yes, having wonder-fuel values will bring and keep wonder-fuel people in your life.
I better accept needing others.
- “No man is an island, unless his name is Madagascar” 🙂
If you like and find this article helpful, your friends and colleagues will likely like, comment on or share it too, that’s good for them, me and you.
Wishing you fulfilment, Robert Wright AKA: A Friend.
Ps: Thanks to the service men and women who suffer from ptsd so the general population doesn’t have to, your courage and service underpins the wellbeing of our society: Please check out the following resource if you require help in your recovery. https://www.oneeducation.org.uk/course/ptsd-cleaning-and-clearing-shock-and-trauma/
For daily motivation: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNeW5eWhG4Y7hlBdb5Fk0Ug
For a book on the subject: https://www.amazon.com/PTSD-Cleaning-Clearing-Shock-Trauma/dp/1539339661