5 Painless Ways to Overcome Emotional Trauma

I’d expect that losing the use of your legs would qualify as a traumatic event, but on the bright side, the red- lacquered bottoms of your Christian Louboutins remain in museum quality preservation.

I had lost many things over the last 38 years.  I lost my car in the airport parking garage, (who’s ever done that?). I lost my mind in a Black Friday sale on a pair of 6-inch super sexy platform stilettos. I lost my balance wearing said stilettos on an escalator in Saks Fifth Avenue and had to be carried to my embarrassingly dirty, standard shift, 1998, red Honda CRV (this was 2013). And, I lost my virginity to Kevin “Scooter Black” Andrews, It took less than 5 minutes and I was home in time watch the Cosby Show (awkward juxtaposition).  Nothing was as emotionally traumatic as losing the use of my legs. 

Have you ever experienced emotional trauma, a divorce, loss of a loved one, or extreme disappointment or failure?

We all have.

I eventually learned to walk again. The journey began with an understanding I had to make a commitment to overcoming the trauma. Here’s how I did it and how you can do it too.

1. Give yourself 24 hours to ugly cry.

There’s no need to pretend like nothing ever happened. It happened. Mourn the death of whatever “it” is. The key is to draw a line in the sand where you can clearly know the point of no return if you should cross it.

I had shut myself off from the world and cried until my head was throbbing in agonizing pain. It was uncontrollable and ugly. My face contorted and my eyes swelled red hot. My stomach cramped from the heaving, the purging of all the possibilities I hadn’t even dreamed of doing. “I’ll never climb Mt. Fuji now.” “ I’ll never break my ankle jumping from a perfectly good airplane (I was so looking forward to that). “I’ll never run that marathon that I never bother to get off the couch and buy running shoes for.” Everything was so dismal during those hours, but just like the loss of a parent, home, or significant relationship, it’s only natural-no -human to grieve.

The next morning, eyes crusted over and nose bruised and raw, I began to separate the facts from fiction.

2.Divide the story from the facts.

A good story pulls you in like a freshly washed comforter on a perfectly made bed on a cool spring afternoon. You can wrap yourself up in the words and forget you are the author.

Not only does a good story pull you in, but we tend to draw in whoever comes near us with entrapments of emotions and pity. They wiggle and squirm to find counter arguments and positive pros, but the story of emotional trauma can be so compelling, no one stands a chance.

We breathe it in and the story becomes life. Separate the facts from the story you made up.

In my case, I wrote the first true statement I could prove. “I have legs.” “I have willpower.” “I have support.” The list grew until it filled up two pages of my journal.  Every time, I started to write something I couldn’t prove, I would write it down as small as I could on a napkin that came with my hospital tray.

When I had exhausted my list or run out of space, I looked at the list of facts and took a deep cleansing breath. The story was baled up in and sent away to wherever hospital trays disappear.

3. Assign a positive meaning or not.

Facts in and of themselves have no meaning. They are simply what happened.

I was hurt. I couldn’t walk. I was still the same person.

I read off the list along with the events leading up to the trauma and said out loud, “This not good or bad.” I assigned no value to the items of my list in most cases. I came across a few like “I can’t feel my legs.” And made a choice to assign a positive value.

I said, “I can’t feel my legs and that means I won’t have to shave them.” 

4.Ask yourself …and then what?

I was starting to feel better. I meditated on all the things I had to be grateful for. I thought about the future and every time I would imagine my perfect life I was walking.

I started with an I will statement.  I will walk again.”  I would end the sentence with,..“and then what?”  

I was creating my world with my words. I was creating my perfect future.

I kept going until I was walking onto the set of my own television show where I was teaching hundreds of thousands of people how to create the life they want no matter what.

The final step is to write and work your plan.

The key here is to take action immediately.

As soon as you have a plan clearly written (even if you can only plan how to do one small step) you must DO something toward realizing your goal.

Read a book, call an expert, sign up for training—anything!