Barton Goldsmith: Respect Your Painful Moments

By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr)> As therapist Barton Goldsmith points out, “Misfortune and difficulty are a part of life. If you are still breathing, you can make your circumstances better and learn from the experience.”

Tribune News Service

I keep a quote over my desk to always remind me, “If you are going through hell, keep going.”

Most people who have been through hell and come out the other side of it have a healthy respect for the difficulty they went through. After you recover from a trauma, you have an opportunity to realize that as uncomfortable as it was, you probably learned a lot and are a better person for it.

I know this doesn’t happen every time for everyone who deals with a traumatic experience, and it often takes some work to get to that level of awareness. The thing to remember is that if you just keep trying to find reasons to keep moving forward, you will. Perhaps that is enough to help you stabilize until you can see your own progress, and that is very important to healing.

Learning to treasure our painful experiences can be challenging, and it really helps to remember that those difficult times got you to where you are, to this place of healing. It’s not about appreciating that you went through hell; rather it’s an acceptance that this unfortunate experience happened and that you, in some ways and perhaps in many ways, grew from it.

Although there may still be challenges and the day-to-day grind, you are in much better shape then you were. When you remind yourself of that and can feel a little gratitude that you got through the worst, then you are in a good place. From here, you can make your life even better if you choose to.

Although I still feel some sadness, I know that my own experience with trauma and loss has made me better in a number of ways. Of course, I will never forget what happened, and I do have bad days; for me that is the new normal, so I am accepting it and doing all I can to make life comfortable for myself and the people I love.

You will find your own state of normal, so give yourself a little time, and go easy on yourself. Yes, you will continue to feel differently about life. You may be a little more fearful, and that makes sense.

On the other hand, if you have gotten surveillance cameras and put razor wire around your house, that’s more like paranoia, and you should go talk with a good shrink. By the way, being able to make light of yourself and your experience is also a good sign of healing.
Gallows humor can get you through some really rough moments.

Compared to the rest of the world, if you are reading this, you still have a pretty good life.
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Yes, it hurts in places, and some parts of you may still need to wake up and refocus, but you need to work on seeing that things are better than they were, even if you are still battling the forces of evil.

So grab your lightsaber and keep it handy. Let’s hope you never have to use it. Your real job is to get back into life in whatever way makes you comfortable. Misfortune and difficulty are a part of life. If you are still breathing, you can make your circumstances better and learn from the experience.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)

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