Considering the insanity of the past year globally, I thought it an appropriate time to discuss trauma and ideally spread a bit of hope. We all experience trauma in one way or another, and we all react differently to those traumas. I’m certainly no exception to this. Traumatic events throughout my life shook me to my very core and fundamentally changed who I was as a person. And sometimes, not in a good way. After much adversity, I’ve learned that trauma and deep emotions can be used as a springboard to more. Instead of posttraumatic stress, it can be posttraumatic growth, in more ways than one.
Posttraumatic growth is real and defined by Wikipedia as, “a positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges in order to rise to a higher level of functioning. These circumstances represent significant challenges to the adaptive resources of the individual and pose significant challenges to their way of understanding the world and their place in it. Posttraumatic growth involves “life-changing” psychological shifts in thinking and relating to the world, that contribute to a personal process of change, that is deeply meaningful.” It’s a thing!
I truly believe we all have the ability to grow through what we go through, and I’ve made it my life’s mission to find out how to do this successfully. Again, Wiki says, “Growth does not occur as a direct result of trauma; rather, it is the individual’s struggle with the new reality in the aftermath of trauma that is crucial in determining the extent to which posttraumatic growth occurs. Encouragingly, reports of growth experienced in the aftermath of traumatic events far outnumber reports of psychiatric disorders, since continuing personal distress and growth often coexist.” A lot of people think that significant trauma has rendered them permanently broken but, again, it is entirely possible to use our traumas for extraordinary things and deep personal growth.
First, a bit of personal info about me. I am a serial entrepreneur, I’ve built several successful companies, I’ve been featured in many publications, from Forbes to Maxim; I employ over 10,000 staff nationwide, I’ve won over a dozen awards and worked with some phenomenal people including Drake, Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Lopez and many more. But let me tell you, it didn’t start that way. I came from nothing, started with nothing, and didn’t have an easy life – and I still don’t.
What has affected my life most indelibly is the fact that I grew up being the middle child of two terminally ill siblings. There were numerous occasions where my sister – my best friend – almost died. I remember one particular afternoon we were leaving school together and she fell to the ground and started seizing; another event was during her second double lung transplant when her heart stopped on the table and then her lung collapsed. She eventually passed in 2011, I was by her side as she took her last breath. My younger brother’s health has been up and down for all of his life, and in 2016, we almost lost him as well, but he was saved by emergency surgery. Cystic Fibrosis is what took my sister’s life and what challenges my brother’s life every day.
Beyond these ongoing traumas, in my teens, I was sexually assaulted, and afterwards, turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with it. And most recently I lost my amazing mother very suddenly, within the span of four months from diagnosis. From turning to drugs, to building businesses, there are certain steps you can take to go in the direction of decline or thrive. I don’t know about you, but when things suck already, I’d much rather see them get better. These are my key lessons I’ve learned to follow (the hard way), and I promise you if you do, you will be better off no matter what you’ve gone through:
Six Key Lessons To Perseverance
- Harness the deep emotions you are feeling. Feel them and let them fuel you forward.
- Get healthy – mind, body and soul. Feed all of them. Work out daily, stop drinking, don’t smoke, eat healthily, take your supplements.
- Build and maintain strong relationships that lift you up. Have them all around you in your texts, your phone calls, your DMs. But also cut out ones that don’t lift you up.
- Do things you love EVERY single day. Whether it’s watching a certain genre of movie before bed, taking bubble baths, doing facemasks – always, always do the things you enjoy most on a daily basis, not just for special self-care days. Every day is self-care day!
- Find your passion and let them run you. Find what you are truly passionate about, what lights you up inside. Then go all in. For me, it’s building businesses, so I go all-in on that.
- Give back – This might be the most important one. It doesn’t have to be monetary by any means, but giving your time, finding ways to help others – will be the biggest catapult for improving your life. It’ll give you a greater purpose, it’ll make you happier, and hopefully, even the karma will come back to you.
I know, especially right now, things can get extremely difficult, and it may seem like there is no positive to survive through any of it. But as the research shows, tough times like now are far more likely to make you stronger, give you the greatest purpose, and fuel you to not only keep going but to thrive.
If you enjoyed this blog, please consider sharing it with a friend, or post it on social media with your thoughts and tag me @emilylyoness – I’d love to hear your feedback! Si