Positive mindset doesn’t fix trauma.
So often we hear the simple, yet sometimes confronting phrase, ‘it’s all about a positive mindset.’
Yes, I agree, to an extent.
And this is where we begin.
Someone who has experienced great trauma will not and cannot simply wish away the feelings of immeasurable panic, or inconsolable sadness. It’s not simply a matter of cheering up or willing yourself to be happy.
This simple, yet sometimes insulting phrase can do more damage than the intended good coming from the sender.
There is of course an element of positive thinking we all employ, it’s normal, recommended even, but it’s not the fixer of every sucky situation.
For example, you lost an important sporting game, it’s bloody hard to get back into the frame of mind needed to get into the training room and work hard to win next time. Positive mindset.
However, the same can’t necessarily be employed for a survivor of trauma. It’s not as easy as positive thinking to allow yourself to relax when you’re alone in the elevator with a man you don’t know, it’s not easy to snap yourself out of the perpetual state of panic when you think you see his face in the crowd, it’s not as simple as wishing you weren’t reliving every moment years on, because a smell, a sound, a touch, triggered every memory in raw, high definition detail.
And it’s not easy to accept and digest or start to process what you’d gone through when you’ve literally forced yourself out of bed, forced a smile to the surface and went to work with a positive mindset, only to be told, ‘oh nothing in life is ever that bad, you’ll be fine.’
Could you possibly understand how hurtful that could be to someone who works tirelessly, endlessly on keeping on top of every soul crushing, life changing thought, that they’ve battled alone for fear of being a burden or appearing sensitive?
There are words that hurt, words that are cruel, and then there are words that shatter.
Everyone is entitled to their meltdowns, or millennial breaks, but everyone should also be mindful of the fact that not everyone is worrying about every day issues like money, or their marriage, or their crappy job. Some people are battling demons you couldn’t possibly begin to understand, they’re battling their own minds, their strength to wake up and fit in with society when for years, they’ve felt like an outsider even in their own skin and on top of that, they've got marriages and mortgages and jobs.
Yes, it is about positive mindset, but it’s also about being able to step out of your own to understand what someone else may be feeling.