Stress Management Consulting Blog on Happiness, Meaning and Self Esteem

During recover from severe trauma, the person must be able to reconnect the dreadful event with his or her life story.  The injured person must understand the event as a chapter that has meaning to one’s life and connect it to the present and how to cultivate the future.

As one progresses in their treatment of processing the traumatic memories, one will need to create future chapters that are not defined by the evil of the trauma, but are defined by growth from it.  The present and future need to find happiness, meaning and self esteem in order to self sustain any recovery and help the person integrate back into society.

Individuals suffering from trauma and PTSD have a difficult time finding happiness, meaning and self esteem in their lives. Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program and Grief Counseling Program

 

Happiness can be subjective in regards to what makes one smile, but at the most inner most level, it is universal.  Happiness when misplaced in material things can never lead to true happiness, but values and beliefs and love and family can all have more long lasting meaning to sustaining happiness and leading one to it.   One who has suffered severe trauma may have difficulty defining oneself or finding love and connection with the world, so it is important to understand how again to be happy.  Obviously placing one’s faith in the most elements of happiness is critical.  Far too many who even suffer no trauma, still choose false idols of happiness.  They place their love in things over people, self over family, and in ideas that die with time instead of live eternally.

Some common traits of those who experience some relevance of true happiness can be found in those who possess a healthy self esteem and peace of mind.  These individuals cultivate virtue and love within themselves and with others.  They have healthier experiences with social interactions and bonds that form from these interactions.  Most hold a belief in something greater than than themselves.  Most find this in faith and religion, but any type of objective code that binds one beyond oneself, gives a person purpose and meaning.

Happy individuals usually also possess a mastery of their life.  They have believable goals, moderate ambitions, and mastery of their schedule and how things are accomplished.  They are not in chaos but order.  Furthermore, they possess an optimistic outlook on life that is not always defined by success but by self and self worth.   Unfortunately, like a thief in the night, grief and loss can occur.  Even the happiest person can be robbed of everything, even beyond family, virtue and love.  Grief is the price of love in this temporal world.  With that truly happy individuals will deal with pain and sorrow and trauma but they will ultimately have the meaning and self esteem to guide themselves through the journey of grief and adapt and adjust to the loss.

Happy individuals are not always happy or content but they are not constantly dragged down with hate, blame, bitterness and helplessness.  They may deal with trauma but eventually again find the light at the end of the tunnel.  Some may require help but ultimately, their spirit may be hurt, but never killed.

Individuals who experience trauma or PTSD may not be able to find happiness in their life.  They may not have the skills or the trauma was so great, it paralyzed their spirit.  As those who experienced trauma reawaken, they need to work towards re-involvement into society and hobbies.  They need to form and organize a plan.  They need to stop worrying as much and become more optimistic and find value in life itself.

This centers around having meaning.  Without meaning, something is useless.  So it is imperative for those recovering from trauma to again find meaning to life.  What meaning or direction can they decipher from the horrific event they witnessed or were apart of?  How can this event give them meaning forward?  How can the person move forward from it and do new things?  Victor Frankyl during his days in the Nazi concentration camp found meaning in survival and a deeper sense of justice that would one day come.  He found meaning in the smaller things that reflected goodness that existed among the evil.

A deep core to meaning usually involves having a commitment to something higher than oneself.  Whether it be a philosophy, or a faith, one can anchor oneself despite any waves of the ocean of life.  No matter what occurs, even it temporarily numbs, one is able to find course due to meaning.  This moral compass can find true north in the most terrific storms.  Many individuals are stripped of meaning at a young age because of trauma.  They are unable to again find meaning.

It is important then to create self esteem.  This may be difficult for someone who has been stripped of all dignity, but through therapy and work on self, one again can start to find value in oneself and separate oneself from the trauma.  In finding self esteem, one can find meaning and happiness again.

Self esteem looks at value in self.  It correlates with the numerous qualities that happy people experience.  At its core, one sees intrinsic value in self, unconditional worth, the experience of love and growth in life.

Self esteem is realistic in self.  It is based in truth, even in imperfections.   It is appreciative of one’s good qualities and ignites positivity in oneself.  It does not create a false arrogance or deception but sees all as equally beautiful in different ways.

Furthermore, self esteem is able to separate the value of one’s core from externals.  Bad things that happen or mistakes are not the core of one’s soul.  One may have had bad things accidentally occur, but that does not make oneself a bad person.  Instead of “BECAUSE” of that, I am “THEREFORE ” this or that, the mind sees that  “EVEN THOUGH” this occurred, “NEVERTHELESS” I am still me.  The EVEN THOUGH/NEVERTHELESS logic separates someone from the incident.  It does not make the person a product of the incident.  This slight change of words creates an entirely different person.

Trauma victims need to cultivate self esteem. Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program

 

Individuals with good self esteem are able to see their core self absent of bad events.  They are able to truthfully see the bad and good, but not define oneself by any bad, but only work on the good.  They are able to put this optimistic energy into change.

Again, when things go astray, they do not see these things as permanent but temporary.  They do not define lack of success as themselves.  They do not look to be better or less than anyone and they are more likely to see someone different due to position not necessarily more or less innate worth.

Trauma can destroy self worth.  It can make one feel horrible one self and equate oneself to the trauma.  One cannot differentiate between core and accidentals.  One hence is always feeling less and inadequate.  This can lead to competition with others, or fear of being in the open due to fear of failure.  It can cause mistrust and bitterness and envy.  It can force one to deny any meaning in life but trauma and the product of that trauma.

Happiness, meaning and self esteem are key to functioning individuals.  Trauma can take it temporarily or permanently for some.  It is important to anchor oneself to something more than the event.  To anchor oneself even to something more than this world can ever take.  We live in a valley of tears and bad things happen to good people, but there is good too and light that can be found.  Those who are able to find meaning and self esteem and value in something greater are better able to navigate and cope with trauma during life.

Counselors can help others learn these skills and cultivate these values.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program, as well as AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program and Crisis Intervention Program.  The programs are online and self paced and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Stress Management Consulting, Grief Counseling or Crisis Counseling.

 

SOURCE

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery and Growth by Glenn R. Schiraldi, PhD

Stress Management Certification Blog on Guilt and Trauma

Guilt is a necessary emotion.  When anchored with a good conscience, it provokes truth and justice when wrong is committed.  It prevents future wrong doing in some cases and helps guide the person to proper moral outcome.   It is hence sometimes good to feel guilt.  If one lacks guilt in appropriate circumstances, it is a sign of a deeper and more sinister moral flaw.   Sociopaths are incapable of guilt and can commit the most grievous offenses without any sense of emotional wrong doing.

Victims can carry disproportionate grief. Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Certification

 

For the more tender hearted and as well as those who experience trauma, guilt can sometimes become excessive and over play its reach.  It can become a pathological agent that prevents proper healing.  When guilt is not properly processed and understood according to reality, it can then continue to haunt a person and prevent emotional healing.   Guilt must be processed.  If due to trauma it becomes part of dissociative material, then it can linger.  It needs to find resolution, where appropriate sorrow is displayed and a chance for change and growth occur.  When guilt is stunted, either not accepted or over felt, then it can keep a person stuck in the past.

With trauma, guilt is usually not proportionate and a variety of distortions exist.  These distortions continue to exist when individuals keep trauma to themselves and do not face it.  This is why dialogue is so critical to healing.  It allows the wound to bleed and also the opportunity to discuss falsehoods regarding the traumatic event hence allowing integration of the memory.

Most distortions create an imbalance of guilt.  Either the person blames oneself 100 percent or finds no blame at all.  Associated with this are usually feelings that one does not deserve to live or survivor guilt.  In addition, many individuals feel the guilt is critical to show they still care and that they must punish themselves and repeat the pain.  Multiple reasons incur this guilt.  Many believe they are guilty because they were afraid, or found relief.  Others find guilt in having to kill, making a mistake, finding enjoyment in the event, wanting to die, or expressing extreme hatred.  Others find guilt in their actions in not being able to save others, not taking precautions, freezing under pressure, not stopping the abuse, or not saying “I love you” one last time.

Many things can haunt a person who experienced trauma.  Depending on the trauma and event, they can differ, but they all carry a haunting voice that judges what one felt, did not feel, did, or did not do.  Distortions to the event can amplify the sorrow the person experiences.

Dialogue is obvious the first step in unlocking guilt.  Various cognitive therapies look to identify guilt and then properly ascertain legitimacy of it.  This involves discussing with a therapist the event itself and verbalizing the details.  The patient then must attribute the level of what they think was their fault in a numerical percentage.  Following this, the therapist challenges the events and asks probing questions of who else may be at fault.   The guilt is then re-assessed and a recalculation occurs in which proportionate percentages of guilt are discovered to be less.  This process can be repeated weekly to illustrate to the victim and patient that the guilt attributed is far from fair.

Also, the therapist can help the victim distinguish between the emotion of concern versus guilt, as well as shame and guilt.  Many equate these emotions with guilt.  The sexual victim may equate shame with guilt.  In doing so, one can then start to attack the various distortions of guilt.

It is also important to help the patient understand their decision under pressure.  Normal decision making under peaceful situations are quite different than decisions under duress.  Fight or flight mechanisms can erupt and many lose rationality.  So it is good to point out that one does not think the same way under trauma as if not.  A therapist can also help the patient look at the choices that were available, the time constraints, all the information at the time and the intent of the outcome.

Another important way to help one see the past is to have the person play the role of two.  As if an advisor or friend, to respond to one’s own criticism.  By separating oneself from the event, and counseling one as if a friend, one can then begin to see the overall picture.  So many therapists recommend patients play a two role therapy of talking and then responding as two different individuals.

It is important to properly process guilt in trauma. Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program

 

In addition, various rituals can help.  Spiritual visualization of healing, as well as finding forgiveness through a higher power.

Through this, one is better able to properly rank their guilt and true proportionate role in the traumatic event.  The person can then understand the situation, move on from it and process it.  Through this, the victim can be better prepared for the future and understand the role he or she played.

Of course, various therapies help individuals with PTSD and trauma better recollect the situation and process any negative emotions.  EFT, Rewind Techniques, TIR and EMOR are all way therapists can better help an individual relate to the emotions and events of a particular trauma.  They can also help the person cognitively restructure the event appropriately to reality.  Removing inappropriate guilt is obviously an important step.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program, as well as Stress Management Program and Crisis Intervention Program.  All programs are helpful in teaching professionals to guide others through trauma.   The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.

 

Sources:

“The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery and Growth” by Glenn Schiraldi, PhD

 

Grief Counseling Certification Program Video on Grief and Creativity

Grief is transformative.  It forever changes an individual.  The person retains identity but outlooks and personal views can alter and how one integrates the loss into life.  From that integration can come beautiful ways to express oneself and generate new ways and new habits.  Creativity is a by product of past destruction as things are rebuilt and understood in new lights.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification

 

Please review the video below

Grief Counseling Courses Video on Anticipatory Grief

Grieving over something that has not yet occurred is referred to as Anticipatory Grief.  When someone is terminal and dying, Anticipatory Grief is common as one grieves the event before it occurs.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Courses and see if they meet your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals looking for a four year certification in Grief Counseling

 

Please review the video below

Grief Counseling Certification Article on Death and Dying

They say the only certain things in this life are death and taxes.  Death is a guarantee at the moment of birth and becomes ironically part of living itself.  It plays a key role in our life span in this temporal world.  Yet, it is the most feared and avoided topic despite its central importance to our life itself.  Thanatology attempts to understand the nature of death and dying itself and attempts to explain the science and philosophy of death.  Grief Counseling tries to help us adjust to the process of dying or the death of another.  Together, they can help an individual better discuss, deal and cope with this very natural life event.

Traditionally, death has many characteristics.   Lack of respiration, lack of pulse and heartbeat, zero response to stimuli, lowered body temperature, stiffness of the body and bodily bloating are all signs of death.  The Harvard Criteria lists death as something that leaves the individual unresponsive to stimuli, no movement or breathing and no reflexes.  Furthermore it notes that there is no longer any circulation of blood to the brain and a flat EEG exists.

What constitutes a state of death? Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

Death hence has it characteristics and permanence once a certain time period of such lack of activity exists.  While the fear of not being dead and buried may have existed long ago, today’s science clearly delineates the boundaries of alive and dead.   Death though is more than a physical event, but is also for many a spiritual event.  It is an event that leads to a new birth in spiritual beliefs and is more than just merely the end of physical activity.  While spirituality and death may not have empirical evidence to support it, the belief itself is wide held throughout humanity.  It can also be said, while it cannot be empirically proven, life after death, it is also said it cannot be disproven.

The dying process leads to death and is more than a physical journey but also a spiritual and emotional one for the dying as well as their loved ones.  The biggest question to ask is when does dying begin?  Philosophically one can say, dying begins the day we are born, but health studies require a more definitive definition that denotes a direct and acute movement towards death itself.  While one may be dying, sometimes, one may not even know the event is occurring.  This is why recognition of the facts is essential to officially declare one is dying.  The facts need to be communicated and realized for the psychological, emotional and spiritual elements to enter into the equation.  When nothing else can be done to prevent the acute event, one officially realizes they are dying and will die due to a particular thing.

The expression and communication of dying to another is something that healthcare professionals have recently been hoping to improve in regards to delivery of the news.  In the past, the dreaded news has been expressed coldly and sometimes abruptly.   As an event of failure to the medical world, the person was left to process the information without guidance or compassion.  Today, those in Pastoral Thanatology, look to help the dying die with dignity but also understanding and compassion.  Hospice prepares the dying for the ultimate end, looking to reduce pain and prepare one emotionally and spiritually for death.

Physicians and healthcare providers though can better communicate death to their patients.  Sharing smaller facts and gauging responses are key, as well, and not overwhelming the dying and their family at first.  Explanations and time to educate are key, despite the discomfort of such bad news.  Allowing pauses and questions and time to process is key, but also respecting denial.  Being there and giving the time is key. Another important element is not to stretch the truth, but to be completely honest, but in that honesty, again, find the time to listen and not mechanically leave the scene after such heartbreaking news.  Many healthcare professionals are not trained in explaining death and are only trained in the mechanics of what is occurring physically, while dismissing the emotional and mental aspects of death.

Once one is faced with dying and accepts the outcome, certain questions become obvious to the dying.  Certain trajectories manifest to the dying that map out their final days.  The biggest are certainty and time.  How long does one have and what to expect in the final months, days or hours.  Some trajectories are quick, others linger, and others occur unexpectedly.  These aspects can greatly change how one prepares for death.

Death comes for all. How we prepare depends on multiple factors. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program

 

Obviously each trajectory has their benefits and disadvantages.  Preparation in death can allow one to put all business aside, but leaves one to the mental long anguish of knowing the end is coming.  Quick deaths can reduce this anxiety but leave one with very little time to prepare financially, spiritually and emotionally.

The long mental process of accepting death was best laid out by Elisabeth Kubler Ross.  Kubler Ross worked with the dying and found they responded in a five stages to death.  Namely, denial, anger, sadness, bargaining and acceptance.  Each phase while not always ordered, showed the emotional response of most people to the news of death itself.  The news can be so terrifying that one may react in a variety of ways trying to control what one cannot control.  The ultimate end is acceptance because death is guaranteed for all.

Charles Corr also pointed out the reaction to the news of death.  At the epicenter is the physical reality of dying, followed by the psychological reaction, followed by the social reactions and finally the spiritual reactions.  As the wave of the news spreads, the dying story encompasses all aspects of the person’s existence.

Buddhist stages of death are more spiritual.  They see various stages of loss of sensation, to visions, to nothingness itself.  In Christianity, death is seen as the result of sin.  It is a punishment and the severing of soul and body, but it is temporary, and the body one day is restored to the soul.   It is important to understand the spirituality of the individual who is dying and to help them fulfill any incomplete spiritual exercises before death.  This gives comfort to the dying.

How death eventually takes the person is something very intimate and seen by family and healthcare workers.  While it can be painful, it is sometimes very peaceful, as the body surrenders to death.   While many may never have it, it is everyone’s hope to experience a happy and peaceful death surrounded by love.  This is the most anyone can ask for as this dreaded but important part of our life occurs.  One needs to be prepared and think about this event.  It should not be disregarded as morbid, but seen as an important part of life.  The thought of dying well is something we should all smile towards when that day comes.

If you would like to learn more about Grief Counseling and Pastoral Thanatology, then please review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and Pastoral Thanatology Certification.  The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking four year certifications in these disciplines.

Please also review

“Death, Dying and Human Society”by David Kastenbaum

“On Death and Dying” by Elisabeth Kubler Ross

Grief Counseling Training Video on Funerals and Grief

 

Funerals play a critical role in the grief process.  They allow an individual to mourn publicly, find support and acknowledge the loss.  It is an important step in the process but for the griever it is only the beginning. After the funeral and wake, many leave with condolences, but the individual griever is left with a year long process of adjusting to life without the loved one.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Training Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a Grief Counseling Certification.  Also please review AIHCP’s Funeral Associate Program

Please review the video below

Grief Counseling Certification Article on Fatigue and Grief

Fatigue can play a major role in grief.  Many individuals are more tired because the body needs time to heal emotionally and mentally.  Grief can also keep you up, intrude upon your dreams, and emotionally wear you down overall.  Sleep is natural, but when it becomes too excessive, or a way to avoid the issues, or in the other extreme, unattainable, then issues need addressed

Fatigue and grief go side by side. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your goals

 

What’s Your Grief’s article, “Does Grief Make You Tired?” by Eleanor Haley takes a closer look at how grief and fatigue inter relate and what to look out for.  She states,

“A common question about grief that we often hear asked is: Does grief make you tired?  The simple answer is, yes, it’s perfectly normal to feel exhausted after experiencing significant loss. Grief and loss can cause mind-body mayhem, which comes as a surprise to those who thought grief would be a purely emotional experience”

To read the entire article, please click here

The article goes on to list numerous ways sleep or lack of sleep can be detrimental as well when grieving.

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in grief counseling.

Grief Counseling Certification Article on Small Losses

Many times individuals do not take the time to grieve or allow themselves to grieve.  They hide it or ignore it as weakness.  Others wish not to burden others with their troubles.  Still others feel maybe their grief is not worth acknowledgement.

It is ok to grieve the smaller things in life. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

On the contrary it is important to address loss and even mourn things of smaller value.  While different reactions correlate with greater bonds, smaller things can still be upsetting and it is important to validate those losses.

The article, “The Importance Of Mourning Losses (Even When They Seem Small)” by Kavitha Cardoza and Claire Marie Schneider review the importance of mourning.  They state,

“When someone close to you dies — maybe a parent, a spouse or a sibling — it’s a big loss. Those around you might acknowledge that loss by showing up with food, checking in or maybe sending a card. But what about when a neighbor dies? Or that long-awaited family reunion is cancelled? There’s a chance others might not acknowledge or recognize it as a loss — and you may even feel guilty for even feeling this way.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

Grief Counseling Certification Article on Grief and Guilt

During grief, multiple emotions can emerge.  Anger, sadness and even guilt.  Guilt especially can be a harmful emotion during grief because it tortures one over the loss of a loved one.  Thoughts torture an individual regarding potentially the final days.  Did the person do enough, did she say something mean she regrets, or did he not give enough time while the person was alive?  These thoughts can torment the soul.

Second guessing oneself in grief and finding guilt can eat at the soul. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

In addition, some individuals find guilt in things that were beyond their control.  The guilt eats away and when they discuss it, they discover the guilt was unfounded.  This is especially true with children and magical thinking.  In many cases, children may feel responsible for the death of a loved one because they wished it or thought it.  Hence guilt can be a true poison in the grieving process and the only way to weed it out is to discuss it and share it with others.

Another type of guilt in loss is survivor guilt.  When experiencing a traumatic event, the survivor sometimes may feel guilty they survived or feel guilty they did not do enough to save others.  In reality, there should be no guilt, but the guilt still haunts them.

The article, “Grief and Guilt: ‘I can’t believe I did that’ edition” from “Whats Your Grief” takes a closer look at guilt and grief.  The article states,

“When it comes to grief and guilt, these ‘if-then’ thoughts often come up around the thing we did or didn’t do. We think if something had been different, the outcome would have been better. It is easy to imagine that the alternate reality would be the perfect outcome we wish for, instead of the reality we’re living. We look back and think things like:”

To read the entire article, please click here

The article lists numerous what if scenarios of what if, but then looks at why we do certain things in different situations.  Stress response of fight or flight and our various crisis responses provoke different responses.  So in reality, we respond in a given situation and are programmed to do so.  Yet, in grief, we still look back with guilt, why we did not go to the funeral, or why we did not fight longer with treatments for our loved one, or wish we would have done that one little thing to change an outcome.

We as temporal beings cannot know the final end or whether an alternate ending is any better. In fact, the same ending may have occurred regardless and we can merely torture ourselves over and over in the mind.

We need to accept the past, shed guilt and realize our mind reacts to stress and crisis differently and we cannot return to that moment.  What we can hold tightly to is we do what we feel is best at that moment and that we cherish and love our loved one.  Our loved ones do not wish us to torture ourselves after their death.   They want us to grieve healthy and not find guilt in their death but eventual acceptance.

If of a religious mind, we know they are in a better place and will one day reunite with us.  In the meantime, holding on to guilt and other toxic emotion is unhealthy whether religious or not.  The memory of the person lives on in us and they would never wish for us to hold on to unfounded guilt.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and the training for qualified professionals leads to a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

 

Grief Counseling Certification Article on Post Partem Depression

Depression can be caused during pregnancy and after pregnancy due to the changes of life and also the hormones.  It can affect both fathers and mothers.  Sometimes this is ignored because everyone feels you should be happy but post partem depression and depression during pregnancy is a reality for many.

Many women can experience depression during and after pregnancy. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program

 

The article, “Mom Life: When depression is more than just “baby blues”” by Tamara Markard looks at this type of depression that many parents, especially mothers face.  She states,

‘”Baby blues” typically occur within the first three days after giving birth when the levels of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body dramatically plummet. The symptoms usually last for about two weeks before going away on their own. For some women, the depression, anxiety, worry, sleeplessness and other symptoms turn into something more serious called postpartum depression.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Mothers after childbirth should understand that post partem depression can occur and if it does after the initial weeks to seek help from a medical professional.  Fathers should keep an eye on their wives emotional well being and be supportive of their emotional needs as their bodies readjust to post pregnancy

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study.  It is open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling