Sometimes you’re going along, living your life the way your usually do, and then something happens that throws you off-kilter. It might be something that changes the way you think about things, something that makes you realize that your focus has been in a place that matters less than what is going on right this moment.
It may be something that stops you in your tracks and makes you realize what really matters.
For much of my nation—the US—it has been Hurricane Harvey and its terrible aftermath during this past 10 days. We’ve watched as torrential rains flooded our fourth largest city and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Water destroyed houses, washed away cars, and ruined all their belongings. But even worse, it killed people and animals.
It took hundreds of thousand lives and turned them upside down for the foreseeable future. Whether you know anyone in that area or not, you can’t help but be moved by the ways that strangers reached out to help others: driving in with flat-bottom boats to help evacuate those stranded; forming a human chain to rescue someone out of a floating truck; arriving on horseback to help release other horses trapped and straining to keep their heads above water; opening homes, stores, and churches to take people in from the relentless water; arriving at shelters to volunteer; sending money and supplies.
Just as it has done at other times, this disaster focused us on what really matters. I experienced it close up last fall during the fires that killed fourteen and wiped out so much in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Or as it did when the tsunami hit Southeast Asia several years ago. Or when wildfires engulfed so many acres of land in the Western US.
Whether the disaster gets national news or is primarily a local story, most of us are moved by the pain and suffering of others. We want to help. We hurt for them, imagining what it would be like to experience those events first hand.
Television, the internet, and social media brings us first-hand stories and first-hand images that burn their way through our consciousness, reminding us of what is important. What is most important through it all are the LIVES.
Lives that are lost. Lives that are irrevocably changed. Lives that matter.
All of us become changed by the experiences we have. If the experiences are positive, those changes may not be problematic. If those experiences are negative, they can be life-changing not only for the person who has the experience, but on others whose lives intersect with theirs.
I’ve spend a good portion of my professional life helping people move beyond trauma, whether caused by a natural disaster, a crime, an abusive relationship, war experiences, accidents, health issues, or any of the huge number of traumatic incidents that can change your life forever.
Trauma changes people, there’s no doubt about that. It can change brain functions, and how fully the person is able to live in the here and now. But there are ways to mediate trauma, to resolve it, to help people go from feeling as if all their resources have been damaged to putting it in its place and moving on.
While I’m in full support of rebuilding homes, helping people restore their lives, I hope we won’t forget what really matters: helping people survive something terrible and come through it stronger, wiser, with all the inner and external resources they need to move on. Because that’s what’s really necessary to survive this or any other bad experience.
If you or someone you know needs help connecting with those resources, I hope you’ll reach out. Email me at Linda@InnerResourceCenter.com or call me at 865-983-7544.
While I no longer work as a psychotherapist, I can teach you the tools to move on, or I can help you find someone to work with so that you can resolve whatever trauma has taken its toll on you. What really matters is to find the resources to move on. Your history of the trauma doesn’t change, but what can change is your reaction to it.
Linda Pucci, Ph.D. is a personal and business coach with nearly 40 years experience helping people uncover obstacles and resolve them in order to be able to MOVE ON. For more information, email her at Linda@InnerResourceCenter.com.