005D. Newsletter Highlights: June 2023

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Key Quote:

It’s okay to not have to hide all the time. That would be the goal I want for people experiencing trauma; to not have to hide the pain. To be able to step forward and say, ‘This is real and this hurt me and I need help.’”  – Andrew Gilley

Episode Summary:

In this evocative episode of “Surviving Humanity: A Self-Help Podcast”, join your host Andrew Gilley as he leads us through unexplored corridors of the human experience. Recently, we’ve been delving into the world of trauma, its ripple effects, and the surprising power within us all to overcome it.

Listen to Wes’ transformative tale in his episode, “Overcoming Trauma: Healing from Within”. He pulls back the curtain on the rarely acknowledged dangers of emotional suppression and its potent link to addiction. Embark on his journey through therapy and medication, discovering that facing the darkness is sometimes healthier than the comfort of avoidance.

Don’t miss Wes and Andrew’s compelling conversation on the pervasive impact of trauma. They bring to light how it disproportionately ravages oppressed demographics and boldly challenge society’s refusal to recognize the collective trauma left in the wake of events like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our special guest, Tuê-Si Nguyen, bravely opens up about his personal battles with trauma and addiction. Discover how he harnessed strategies such as shadow work, journaling, and meditation, all underpinned by self-compassion and self-love, to navigate his way through emotional turmoil.

Drawing from various blog posts, we shine a light on universal themes of trauma. Learn about its pervasiveness in society, the resilience needed to rise from catastrophic events, and the secret to conquering triggers for recovery. Discover the overlooked yet essential role of self-validation and love in the healing journey.

This isn’t just a podcast; it’s an exploration of the human capacity to endure, evolve, and ultimately, to thrive. Tune in, and learn how to survive… humanity.

Full Transcript:

[00:00:00] Andrew Gilley: Welcome to Surviving Humanity: A Self-Help Podcast, where we shift your perspective to help you overcome the obstacles in your life. I’m one of your co-hosts, Andrew Gilley. And today, I’ll be reading to you highlights from this month’s newsletter focusing on overcoming trauma and mindshifts. You can sign up to get these newsletters straight to your inbox from the homepage of our website at survivinghumanity.net.

Let’s get started. Our first episode from last month was Wes’ episode on “Overcoming Trauma: Healing from Within.” And this episode featured Wes’ personal journey through trauma, depression, anxiety, and addiction; shaped by childhood, marked by fear and punishment.

He shares his experiences with being misunderstood by the educational system and his family leading to the development of coping mechanisms such as addiction. His struggle with ADHD and Bipolarity, his journey through therapy and medication are all key factors in Wes’ experience struggling with trauma over the course of his life.

His turning point was when he found a sense of purpose in his student organization – USD eSports. He discusses the importance of emotional awareness and the harmful effects of suppressing your emotions. This leads to things like addiction when you push down these feelings and they come out in other ways.

And then, he concluded by emphasizing the transformative power of resilience, self-understanding and acceptance, particularly self-acceptance. All of these things adding up together allowed Wes to deal with the trauma in a way that was healthier than previous avoidance strategies like, addiction. And it’s what led him to where he is today.

And I think that’s always important when we talk about difficult stories is that no matter how difficult, they do lead you to where you are today, for better or worse, and all the good things that happened too, came out of those bad things. Next, Wes and I had our “Conversation on Overcoming Trauma”. And we discussed the impact of trauma on both individuals and take a broader look at the issues on a societal level.

We highlight the importance of acknowledging trauma and exploring one’s personal trauma, because if you approach these things properly, they lead to a lot of potential for growth. However, trauma is also by its nature, very destructive. It leads to a lot of situations that are too big to handle.

That’s what trauma is. It’s an event that one person can’t process. Trauma can shift your mind very hard. It can cause totally new ways of thinking and being both in a positive direction, in a transformative regrowth and blooming of yourself after a difficult experience. Or if you don’t have the support mechanisms, it can be very difficult and create a lot of problems for you, and it could be really hard to see a way out.

So we note that this tends to happen more to oppressed groups, oppressed demographics, non-men, children, working class people, black and indigenous people,trans people. And we argue in the episode that these things are often passed on, through generations, and that we have all experienced trauma, global trauma.

When looking at the COVID-19 pandemic and yet there’s a steadfast refusal to acknowledge that trauma ever occurred. It’s an avoidant strategy on a societal scale, and it’s not working, and we can clearly see the manifestations of that trauma within society, within people’s mental health. And we need to start acknowledging this before we can even begin to try to provide a solution to it or try to heal. We can’t heal until we’ve actually acknowledged our trauma and begin to work through it. And as a society, we refuse to do that stridently.

Our last episode is Wes’ interview with Tuê-Si Nguyen, co-host of The Creators in Vietnam Podcast. He talks about his own personal story of overcoming trauma. His trauma response, like a lot of other people’s, was an avoidant one. He became addicted to methamphetamine to deal with the traumatic pain of losing his mother, and he talks about his journey going through that and forgiving himself, because he carried a lot of guilt with himself for the feelings he had as a child.

It’s often very difficult when we experience trauma when we’re young because we don’t have the tools to deal with it even less than we usually do, and it becomes very difficult.

Tuê-Si’s act of forgiving himself. And as a child, you could feel very bad about having anger toward your mother, or another authority figure, and it can create really complex emotions. But Tuê-Si’s talks about his journey of accepting and forgiving his negative emotions, practicing self-compassion and self-love, and showing up for himself.

He highlights the importance of understanding our emotions and expressing them through mediums like journaling and meditation. He clarifies that trauma recovery is about being authentic to yourself. He believes that we need more education and practice on self-compassion and love, and listen to your intuition to prioritize your mental health.

So next I’d like to go a little bit more in depth into this interview and talk about three things that Tuê-Si taught us this week.

So I’d like to expand more about ‘forgiving yourself for childhood trauma’. Tuê-Si notes:

“It was the day I think that I told myself, when I remember the resentment and the hatred and the rage, I told myself, ‘Oh, you were six years old man. You were allowed to have those feelings and you already had them. So just forgive yourself.'”

Yeah. Six year olds don’t have the capacity to deal with trauma, not even adults do. You would never hold a six-year-old child responsible for something bad happening or for feeling the wrong thing. If it wasn’t yourself, people who survive trauma a lot of the time, tend to be very self-critical. Because the world has taught them very harsh lessons, and you internalize those.

You would never blame a six year old for having a bad reaction, but we do. Because we view them as part of ourselves, and we’re judging ourselves in the past by the standards we have now. So self-forgiveness is really important for getting rid of those wrong feelings. Feelings that you wouldn’t hold about anybody else, but trauma creates the negative self-image that really pulls you in and makes you hold yourself responsible, even in circumstances where you really shouldn’t.

So forgiving yourself is very important.

Tuê-Si also notes when talking about working through this; he speaks of one of his strategies about journaling, and he says, “So, if I feel anger and resentment, I don’t know how to express it. The very first time I journaled, it would be one sentence with words I thought would mean something. And then I confront those words. And I’d be like, ‘okay, this is one truth of it, but it’s beyond that.’

And I would write next to it. Write a different sentence like that would mean a little bit more. Then you go through all of those journaling. It’s painful journaling. You get to mature that emotion and you get to understand it a little bit more and more. But that takes, again, consistently showing up for myself.”

And I think the importance of shadow work is really what Tuê-Si’s getting at here. And it’s one thing to feel something. It’s important to feel your emotions too. We don’t wanna block them off, but if that only works for a little while. If we’re just constantly avoiding our emotions and not grappling with the trauma, then we’ll never really get past it.

Delving deep with journaling is a really good way to work this out because in your mind, all thoughts seem right. But when you put them down on paper, a lot of the time it becomes very different. You move yourself away from those thoughts, and when you see that, you realize, “Okay, this isn’t true. Something in here is.”

There’s a reason you have the thought in the first place and dissecting that is important. It’s very painful to do this, to explore your dark side, to grapple with your most deep and painful thoughts, but it’s also a source of great growth. There isn’t one truth inside of us that we just write down.

It’s a mess of contradictory thoughts and feelings inside of us. By writing out these feelings, we can wrestle with them and begin to understand ourselves and our true natures, and we can dig past the trauma to recovery.

And then, finally, I really like what he says about showing up for yourself. He says, “So every time you show up for yourself, you show love.” So the same methods are a dime a dozen, but the way out is very much the same. It’s always based on self-compassion and self love. Find what makes you react the best to those two things.

So self improvement is a huge field with many different ideas and suggestions for you to explore. You could literally never run out of suggestions googling them online. It’s very easy to do. But the importance of a particular technique isn’t the technique itself. If it works for you, great. That’s what’s important.

We’re all very different. All of our traumas are different. Our triggers are different, and our responses are different. So one blanket solution isn’t the way to go, but Tuê-Si is right, that ‘self-improvement is centered on self-compassion and self-love’. It’s based on having faith in your ability to grow, to forgive yourself for past mistakes, and it’s really about showing up for yourself.

It’s about you making the effort for you to be healthy. That’s difficult. I find it personally more difficult than other things. I find it a lot easier to not drink, for example, for the sake of somebody else, not for my own, but it’s that grounding in self-love that really makes these things sustainable.

And that’s the important reason to work at it. Because working through trauma, figuring out how to demonstrate to yourself that self-compassion and love, that’s an important way to lead to sustainable recovery.

So finally, I’d like to read a few highlights from our blog. The first post:

“You are not alone in invisible pain and universal trauma, where we go into some of the things that are around us, and traumatic that we don’t often acknowledge. Unfortunately, like with violence, we are also exposed to death frequently through social media and the news. The Covid 19 pandemic demonstrated how quickly we could all get used to death being all around us while living our normal lives. This doesn’t mean those deaths don’t weigh on us. Quite the opposite. We as a society have not found the space to grieve or reflect on this because of our emphasis on moving on and continuing to be productive. There’s no shame in not being okay with this. It’s okay to have a hard time with a death around us. It’s human.”

The next we have:

“Rising Above The Hurricane, Overcoming Trauma And Emotional Healing”. This is centering on the emotions involved with trauma. You can’t beat trauma alone. there’s a lot you can do to help mitigate its worst effects. Trauma is too big for any one person to handle alone. Trauma is overwhelming by its nature. That’s what makes it so unique and destructive. It’s too big for our brains to handle by themselves to move beyond. We need community. The temptation to isolate is one of the key signatures of trauma, because the world is so overwhelming and scary. You want to self isolate. You want to prevent yourself from experiencing that trained trauma and being heard again. But unfortunately, vulnerability is the only way to heal. By sharing your uncomfortable feelings, you do risk rejection or hurt. The potential reward, however, is the human connection that is key to healing.

Then, finally, from “Emerging Victorious: Conquering Trauma Triggers for Those Recovering from Catastrophe”. What you have experienced is real and hurtful. Having the name or context of traumatic stress / PTSD lets you know this. How you feel is not your fault. There is nothing wrong with you. What you’re going through is actually a normal response to abnormal experiences. It’s important to remind yourself of this as you go through challenging symptoms because self-validation is an important piece of healing.

Adina Bank Lee’s for NAMI, the National Association of Mental Health:

“Knowing that you are enough, that you are normal and that you are not alone is an important thing to remind yourself. Trauma is scary, but you’re not the first or last person to go through it. It can feel like you aren’t yourself. That’s a normal way to feel after catastrophe. It’s okay not to be okay.”

So I didn’t realize when selecting these, but I definitely had a theme going in the choices here, and that’s the idea of self-compassion I was talking about above that these things hurt and pretending that they don’t, seems like something everybody wants to do or feels obligated to do. But trauma is scary and a lot of us have it, and minor trauma is still trauma. It’s people think that because something huge and devastating like an earthquake hasn’t happened in their lives, that they don’t have trauma, that they don’t have traumatic stress.

It’s okay to not have to hide all the time. That would be the goal I want for people experiencing trauma; to not have to hide the pain. To be able to step forward and say, “This is real and this hurt me and I need help.” And what I’d like to see is people reaching their hands out to that. If we build a culture like that, I think that’s where the healing can really begin.

Not through the act of pushing it down and pretending something never happened, but being willing to open yourself up and say, “I am not okay.” I think that’s really important for the future and for dealing with trauma as a society because we haven’t dealt with it as a society and we’ve individualized the problem.

Instead, it’s your fault if you don’t feel good, it’s not your fault. It’s okay not to be okay. And ultimately, overcoming trauma is a community effort and an effort of love, and that’s what we need to commit to.

So, thank you very much for listening. Tune in next Tuesday to hear a story from myself on the first topic in our series on positive growth mindset and how it relates to mind shifts.

If you wanna help support us, please join our exclusively monthly book club on Patreon. Share the podcast with others and don’t forget to follow, rate, and review us on your favorite podcast platform. And hey, before you go, do you feel like you could benefit from a boost your morale, then, now like why not give our 7-Day Self-Confidence Challenge a go? 

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