In trauma recovery I easily found myself focusing entirely on my story of loss. It is important to remember our stories of pain and to not brush over them or stuff them inside. Yet as I am dealing with my pain, I am better helped if I can also find things in life that I am grateful for. There is a need to balance two equally important aspects of our lives--our traumatic or grief experience and our sources of resilience.
If our thoughts and questions focus entirely on negativity and our pain and loss, we can spiral down. If our questions and thoughts include our strengths, hopes, and resources for healing, we can move toward growth and healing.
Positive questions for personal reflection:
What strengths do I have to help me through this day?
What loss am I struggling with today? How have I found resources to work through similar situations in the past?
Remember a time in the past when life was difficult and you were able to tap into the strength you needed to rise above the situation. How did you do it?
What is something (no matter how small) that I can be grateful for today?
What is one thing I could do today to experience more joy?
Depending what stage of trauma recovery you are in, you may find the principles of appreciative living helpful for you. If you feel you have the strength to make choices to move into a more active stance of creating hope and joy in your life, you may find these books helpful.
Jackie Kelm has taken the principles of Appreciative Inquiry and applied them to everyday living in a way of life she calls Appreciative Living. I have found both of her books to be very helpful on my own healing journey. Her book called Appreciative Living
gives a thorough discussion of the principles behind the practice. She incorporates research from positive psychology and solution-based theory as well as appreciative inquiry.
Her book called The Joy of Appreciative Living
gives an overview of the five main appreciative inquiry principles and discusses the results of a joy study she conducted. She recommends that people commit to 28 days of three easy exercises. The first exercise is to spend a few minutes each morning thinking of three things you are grateful for. Then you also ask yourself what one thing you could do to create more joy in your day. The third exercise is to once a week envision a hopeful future of your life.
I purchased this book and did the exercises. Even though I had studied and knew the theory behind it, I was still surprised to see how it worked in my life. I rediscovered that what I am looking for in life, reflects what I find. I came across this material after I was a few years into my trauma recovery, and it was helpful to me.
My one reminder related to these books is to remember what I mentioned above about this being "equally important" as working through your pain. Some people could see these principles as a "fix it" solution and not deal with their pain. We must also face our pain and work through it for true trauma recovery.
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