I’ve been reading with some chagrin the events that are spiraling out of control all around us.
There’s Afghanistan, but there’s also natural disaster, such as hurricanes and forest fires.
We’ve got a future economic crisis on our hands if we don’t see manufacturing, importing and exporting go back to normal soon.
And then, of course, there’s the dreaded C word. And I don’t mean cancer.
What do you do when life seems to be falling apart around you?
The sad thing is, so many of us know all about life falling apart.
Because before there was anything catastrophic going on in the world, we were dealing with implosions of our personal lives.
Maybe it was a divorce, either yours or your parents’.
Maybe you lost your job, your home, your children.
A relationship ended or you dealt with a debilitating health crisis.
Or, like me, this has been a year filled with struggling through the painful loss of a loved one’s suicide.
The weird thing about personal pain is just that: it feels very personal.
As much as you want someone to relate to you, you feel like you’re alone.
No one could possibly understand what you’re going through.
When my parents divorced, I was only twelve years old.
I hadn’t yet even figured out who I was, let alone understood anything about marriage.
I didn’t get that two people who meet at a bar at eighteen and get pregnant, probably don’t have the best of chances at staying married without a whole lot of work.
I couldn’t possibly know that the work it takes to stay married sometimes costs a pretty hefty price, and often needs at least some sort of understanding of what a good marriage looks like in the first place.
My parents’ parents had terrible marriages, as did their parents before them. How were they supposed to magically know how to make a marriage work?
But to a child going through a divorce, none of that matters.
Children don’t want their parents to be people. They want their parents to be perfect.
They want safe and secure lifestyle, even at the cost of their parents’ happiness.
Selfishness is not a child’s fault; they’re born that way.
It takes maturity to realize how difficult adulthood actually is.
But no matter how much you grow and forgive people who hurt you, sometimes the trauma is still there.
Trauma is a buzzword these days.
We’re hearing and seeing it everywhere.
Apparently, everything causes trauma now. At least, that’s how it seems.
And it also feels like everything humans do in response to anything that happens in life is called a “trauma-response.”
Now, I don’t discount that we all probably had some things in childhood that weren’t perfect.
But goodness, you’d think every one of us was raised by wolves.
I’m not so sure I’m buying into this whole, “heal your trauma” 24/7/365 sound machine.
Especially when there’s some kind of program, mentor or life coach you need to purchase from in order to achieve success.
Call me crazy, but I’m a little wary of following a person’s life plan simply based on a ten-second Instagram reel.
And, hear me out, here, I’m starting to wonder if maybe we’re all just a little too hyper-focused on trauma lately.
I mean, let’s be honest, focusing on your painful past causes you to constantly be looking inward, at yourself.
You become blind to other people’s pain when you’re in pain, but I would also say you become blind to it when you’re focused on old pain.
And I think we can become so obsessed with past trauma, that we miss that there are people hurting all around us.
I personally believe that one of the biggest ways to heal a painful past is to pay kindness forward.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jesus said that. Many other spiritual leaders practiced it before and after him. ‘
We call it The Golden Rule, and it’s golden for a reason:
- Helping others can help you live longer. And don’t we all want a nice, long life?
- Giving spreads. One act of kindness carries over to another act of kindness.
- Helping others brings joy. A look of happiness on another’s face brings a smile to yours.
- Helping others can help with physical pain. Taking your mind off of the trauma that causes clear physical pain, such as headaches, nausea and joint ache happens when we reach out to others.
- Helping others leads our children to helping others. Parents who help raise children who are more likely to help.
- Helping others makes us feels like we matter. There is purpose in our pain. We can use it for good if we allow.
We are living in a world where, all around us, people are hurting.
There are many of them, the women and children in Afghanistan, for instance, who are helpless.
Have we become so focused on our own trauma that we are ignoring the cries for help from those around us?
I hope not.
Now, more than ever, we need a collective call to action.
We need to put away our own pain for a period of time to do something bigger and greater for our world.
Research ways you can help the various crises going on around you. Pick one or two and focus on making a difference.
Even if it’s not financially, you can help raise funds, minister to those in need, pray for those who are hurting.
You can make a difference.
We can make a difference.
But we must work together.
There used to be a time in the world where this was a no-brainer.
People weren’t so focused on their own hurts, habits and hang-ups.
There was a time when we recognized that life was simply messy, that good and bad things happened, the rain fell on the just and the unjust, and one day, like it or not, our time would come to pass on.
We seem to have a bit more trouble accepting those truths nowadays.
It’s like we all want to live in some perfect utopia, with perfect minds, bodies, homes and families.
We want a perfect world.
We think that hyper-focusing on “fixing” will make that perfect world possible.
A perfect world is not possible. We must realize that at some point and move on.
But we can be good. We can be decent and loving and forgiving people.
It’s time we focus on what we can be instead of what we wish we could be.
It’s time to move from the vision of a perfect world to a vision of a loving world, instead.