The holiday season is finally here ... a joyous time of year! The holidays present an opportunity to come together with family and friends, to share experiences of the past and dreams for the future.
For those who have experienced a traumatic event, this time of year may hardly feel joyous. Traumatic stress can cast a dark shadow over the colors of the season. Although many people will benefit from the opportunity to connect with others, far too many will feel alone.
During this holiday season, we can help victims to regain a sense of control that adversity seems to have taken away. We can help them to see that their decisions and actions can empower them to not only survive, but thrive!
Here are three suggestions. First, make an effort to notice the feelings behind others' words. Feelings are often the stuff that's hardest to talk about. Second, listen. It's not what we say that helps people the most, it's often what we don't say. Instead of being an expert in solving others' problems, help them to find the answers within themselves. And finally, let people know that it's okay not to be okay when they're living through a challenging experience.
This holiday season, let's help people who have lived through traumatic events to harness their painful emotions, and use that energy to propel them to live with a new sense of purpose in the new year.