Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Traumas and Life Difficulties....Is it always bad?

When we think about our past "traumas" or "life difficulties", we often associated it something bad.  When we see our children suffer, there is often that instinctive expectation that "our children should not have to suffer".

But...... is this way of thinking helpful?

When I counselled my patients about life difficulties, I often talk about the 3 outcomes.
  1. You can become traumatized by the experience and carry the "baggage" with you.
  2. You can be stuck in "circular thinking" and essentially, be "limbo".
  3. Or.... you can grow from the experience and become more resilient.
Our job as health professionals, is to help people learn to accept and be at peace with the situation, make sense of it  and somehow, reframe the situation so that they can actually grow and become more resilient from the experience. 

In essence, life difficulties with a good therapeutic dose of support, can be in itself, an opportunity to grow. 

When applying this concept to raising children, the belief that "My children should not have to suffer", may not always be helpful.  This belief is obviously useful because it compels us to protect our children, but on the flipside, it may lead us to excessive worry and become overprotective.  If a child has everything in his or her life and not have to suffer, do you think that they will ever grow as a person?

Consider a more helpful/realistic belief like, "My children will inevitably suffer at some stage in their life but this will help them grow.  I just need to support and equip them with the skills to overcome those life challenges."