Why me? Why not me?
We often ask ourselves these two questions at some point during our life. Someone is chosen for an award – why not me? You are passed over for a promotion – why me?
These thoughts come from an idea we learn as little children that the world is just and fair. Except, it’s not. You see, we begin our lives at a very young age thinking good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. This leads us to believe that if something bad happens to ourselves, then I must be a bad person and conversely, if something good happens, I must be a good person.
However, we all know now this is not the way the world works. Sometimes bad things just happen, and sometimes good things just happen. But these early ideas influence the way we respond to traumatic events. When a traumatic event occurs, the survivor may ask, why me? Or sometimes, why not me? We begin to cook up thoughts in our head that feed the beliefs about our trauma or our response to the trauma. How we think about ourselves, others, and the world around us is greatly influenced by the way we think about our trauma.
It is also important to note that after a traumatic event, some survivors are greatly impacted by the event while others are not. The way our brain responds during the psychological “flight, fight or freeze” process determines how we react and recover after a trauma. I’ll save you the neuroscience lesson and simply say our brains basically determine how we react, and the way we react moves along a continuum – one with “no impact” on one end and “severely impacted” on the other.
The amazing part is that we can heal from our trauma regardless of what end of the spectrum our brains might land. While our brains are hard-wired and complex machines, we are strong and powerful agents of chance. When we focus on our thoughts, determine if they are helpful and realistic, and then change those thoughts that are not, we can change the ways our brains process the trauma. It’s kind of similar to sledding. For example, imagine you’re heading down the hill and you’ve got a great run. It’s fast and smooth then all of a sudden, you veer off to the right. Now, each time you go down the hill you keep veering off to the right. The only way to change your course is to dig your feet down, push into the sled, and force the sled back on to the best snow trail. Eventually, you will reinforce a new, better path and create a blockage to avoid the other not-so-great path.
We can do the same thing in our minds while healing from trauma. We go along with life and it’s smooth as ice. Then all of a sudden, something happens (trauma), and we are veering off to the right. But getting back on the right path is possible. If we dig down deep, engage in trauma-focused therapy, and put in the hard work, before we know it, our brains will return to the reinforced, original smooth pathway with access to the negative route no longer in our way.
At Hope and Healing Psychotherapy, we offer Cognitive Processing Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPT for PTSD). This model of therapy helps the trauma survivor learn how to change their unhelpful and unrealistic thoughts about themselves, others, and the world. Chose the best sledding path. Dig deep. Let us help you do the hard work. There is hope in healing!
No matter what the road of life has put in your way, there is hope for recovery. Contact Hope and Healing Psychotherapy today to begin your healing journey. Call 301-690-8404 to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists or visit HopeHealingTherapy.com for more information.