Empowerment means increasing strength. Self-empowerment means developing the strength to take charge of your life. It means becoming the expert in what it means to be You – not just the victim or survivor, but the whole amazing person you have the ability to be.
In the realm of healing PTSD this means taking responsibility for your healing, including becoming a partner to the trained professionals guiding your case, proactively engaging in research and education, actions and commitment.
Becoming self-empowered requires that you stop saying to everyone else, Heal me! and begin saying, I want to be healed! And then deciding how you will go about doing this in a proactive manner.
While the PTSD fog may make it seem that self-empowerment will be difficult to attain, the truth is, there is a part of you that yearns to regain the control you have lost over yourself, your mind, your body and your life. Taking some simple steps toward self-empowerment helps you get it all back.
The process of becoming empowered involves some if not all of the following actions and situations:
- developing and maintaining decision-making power
- utilizing access to information and resources
- identifying a range of options from which you can choose
- exercising assertiveness
- thinking positively about the ability to create change
- learning skills for improving personal power
- initiating and then following through with self-growth activities
- evolving positive self-image
- developing skills for rational thought
- Self-appreciation – a view of the positive aspects of the self
- Vision – an idea of what goals are to be accomplished in the future
- Purpose – a sense of meaning in how one is proceeding in life
- Commitment – to realizing the vision and purpose one defines
- Contribution – we feel most empowered when we help others
The major benefit of self-empowered healing lies in its oppositional relation to the helplessness we experience during trauma. Developing a self-empowered approach to overcoming PTSD is the beginning of taking back the power trauma stripped from you. This is a critical step and a crucial component in healing PTSD.
There are four major areas in which to develop self-empowerment:
After trauma the tendency is to retreat from the self through such actions as dissociation, numbing, and avoidance. Activities that promote a reconnection with the self can form the core basis for becoming self empowered. Such activities include yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation, plus the will and desire to construct a post-trauma identity.
What does all of this add up to for the person struggling with PTSD? Self-empowerment (re)connects the PTSDer to himself in each of the four areas and, in doing so, strengthens his ability to heal. In utilizing self-empowering methods in recovery the PTSDer takes control of himself and his situation by guiding his recovery with a balance of professional guidance filtered through his own thoughts, opinions, intuitions and desires. A major benefit of becoming self-empowered lies in the redevelopment of self-trust, self-knowledge and self-care.
While a self-empowered healing perspective strengthens and facilitates a quicker and more genuine healing, it also builds a stronger identity for the PTSDer to inhabit during and after healing is complete. In several psychological studies those who are able to act during trauma do not develop PTSD. Most often, PTSD develops as a result of freezing, inaction and a severe sense of helplessness during a traumatic experience. Practicing a perspective of self-empowerment is the first step toward reversing the deepest essentials of trauma’s effects.
(Photos: Texa180, ‘Daisy, Magic Touch)