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Transforming Our Perspective

 

There are so many layers to post-traumatic stress, so many different ways to view what's happened, which is why I encourage that we not allow ourselves to get set in our ways believing that we are changed and therefore unworthy of a life well-lived.   


When in a situation of trauma, we often do not or cannot respond in the way that is most natural. Many times we are catapulted into a survival instinct and unable to even register the emotions associated with what's going on.  This is seen so many times in police officers, firefighters, emergency workers, and soldiers who are in the face of danger everyday.  A job has to be done, therefore emotions simply cannot interfere with the job to be done. Does the absence of emotion in the instance of a traumatic experience mean that those emotions don't exist within you?  Does it mean you do not have an opinion about what you've experienced?  Does it mean that your moral compass doesn't exist in that instance?   I think that we can safely answer "no" to all of those questions.  As a living, breathing human being you have all of the emotions needed to respond in the most humanly way possible.  You have a brain that processes what you see and decides whether something is pleasing to you or not.  You also have an internal compass in your gut that steers you in the way of right or wrong.  All of these things exist within you, whether you are beckoning their presence is another story.  The job must be completed. The mission is an order.  Therefore, your personal emotions, opinions, and moral compass aren't the front-runners at that point in time, but when you return to your home, those emotions, opinions, and the moral compass within you start to rev up.  The things that you weren't able to process in the heat of a traumatic experience are now going to begin their own process.  This is precisely when fear and the flight or flight mechanism really start to amp up.   When you start to feel a hint of unsettled emotions that draw upon what feels like a personal weakness, it becomes intensely frightening.  Steps are usually taken then to either drown it out, ignore it, make yourself so busy you can't be still for one moment, or you can become volatile and angry.   These are just a few of the many ways a person can respond when things start to bubble up from the depths of your being.  Judgment of yourself begins to set in, followed closely by the judgment of others, and the fear of judgment of others.  All of your normal, natural emotional responses now seem foreign and rather enemy-like.   It's easier to dispel them as intrusions than to recognize and honor that something you saw or experienced drew upon a great sadness inside of you or an injustice picked up by your moral compass.  

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