Ask A Coach: How Can I Reclaim My Power After a Traumatic Event?Dec 15, 2022 01:20AM ● By Terry Kowolski
How Can I Reclaim My Power After a Traumatic Event?
When you go through any pain or traumatic event, it can be very hard to look at things from a fresh perspective. Yet when you do, relief comes. The healing process is multifaceted and can take time. After a traumatic experience or after enduring personal suffering, taking responsibility for your actions and choices is the first step to reclaiming your power.
What is trauma?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, trauma “results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”
That is a mouthful, and yet, sadly, many of us have had one or more traumatic events occur during our childhood. About six of every 10 men (or 60 percent) and five of every 10 women (or 50 percent) experience at least one trauma in their lives. This is a disturbing and staggering statistic, and it shows the significant amount of personal suffering around you. This data suggests that others’ actions have disempowered countless people. It also demonstrates that many people still allow past traumas to make them feel helpless and incapable of overcoming their situation.
What is empowerment?
Empowerment is the reward of successful action. Activity and power go together since without the power to sustain your vision through difficulties and resistance, your dream or goals will wither away. This isn’t ego empowerment; it’s not driven by the demands of “me” and “mine,” which disguise one’s underlying fear.
When you are reacting to life from a fear-based perspective, you might experience any of the following:
- People around you might overly influence you because you don’t trust yourself.
- You’re often exhausted and have harmful sleep patterns, such as eating before bed or sleeping at odd hours.
- You pick what aspects of the events you’re willing to respond to; the rest are denied or ignored.
- You’re full of doubt or inner turmoil.
Personal empowerment around trauma means you develop the confidence and strength to overcome and live authentically. Once you have taken responsibility for your actions, you feel empowered and at peace. Here is how peace feels:
- You feel centered.
- You are rested and alert at the same time.
- You tune in to your emotional state and are authentic.
- You feel attuned to the situation around you and are aware.
- You notice signs of confusion and conflict in yourself and confront them head-on.
Reclaiming your power
Reclaiming your power is a process, but it doesn’t have to take a long time to accomplish. You need a bit of courage to move out of your comfort zone. Here are steps you can take to empower yourself.
1. Tell your story of trauma
To begin, establish boundaries around telling your story. Not everyone needs to know what suffering you have endured. You get to determine who you share your story with and when they get to learn that about you. How much you share is also entirely up to you. When you assert your boundaries by letting people know you don’t want to share details is good self-care.
Most people don’t need you to tell them the details of the trauma for them to show empathy or compassion. You also don’t have to share with someone just because they are family. Since empowerment involves considering options and choices, managing how your story is told is an excellent place to begin.
You own the right to how you tell your story because it’s from your perspective. How you view your trauma shouldn’t be about shame or blame because you are on a healing journey now. It is about showing your strength and empowerment. Many people need to reframe the story of their trauma in ways that allow for growth and forward movement instead of focusing on the past. As time passes, you gain perspective. You realize you are no longer a child and can respond differently as an adult to childhood suffering. You have to take responsibility for your current choices and actions instead of blaming past events.
2. Be patient with yourself
Time allows for growth and perspective. As you move from one phase of life to another, you can see that you have made strides in overcoming past suffering. But other times, negative thoughts can invade your thinking and keep you in the past pain. When this occurs, you have to be compassionate with yourself. Speak to yourself like you would a loved one: It’s okay to be human. Although the suffering is an event in the past, the essence of trauma is the residual impact on the emotional and physical systems.
It is normal to have thoughts such as, “I should be over this by now. It happened a long time ago.” This is where you combat shame and understand that the emotional impact of trauma—that was imposed upon you—is not your fault. However long you take to overcome it is however long it takes. Letting shame come into the picture only keeps you trapped in the past. Instead, focus on the present moment and be mindful that you can choose to feel better.
3. Realize that you’re not alone
The childhood victimization rate is up to a staggering 66 percent in the United States. Although the healthcare community wants to help these children, most young victims get no treatment. The few that do are woefully underserved because of the child’s fear of disclosing the truth that usually involves a loved one. Therefore, these children grow up with unresolved issues that still need to be addressed.
Although childhood trauma is well documented, many people don’t know how to deal with survivors; they can react in unexpected ways. It takes strength to reach out for help. You aren’t the victimized child anymore. You’re a survivor who isn’t alone. Asking for guidance in your healing process is an act of empowerment. As you become more mindful and more aware, you can empower yourself by connecting with others—not necessarily to talk about your trauma, but to feel engaged in life.
Moving forward after trauma
A traumatic event may severely constrain your choices and coping mechanisms until you start to feel connected to life again. You must understand and believe your life will get better. Although the traumatic event cannot be undone, it’s possible to integrate the negative feelings and physical sensations connected to the event. And, over time, they will no longer dominate your life. You can move past your trauma. All you need is the correct support and the willingness to take part in the healing process. ❧
Native American Terri Kozlowski is a certified life coach and author of Raven Transcending Fear. She hosts the podcast “Soul Solutions,” which is available on many platforms. Contact her at TerriKozlowski.com