Discover the six underlying reasons why trauma sufferers often reject the help of others.
by CHRIS ADSIT and EVAN OWENS
Service members and first responders know a thing or two about making choices. Their careers epitomize that concept. They are men and women of action. When confronted by trouble or threat, they must make quick, accurate decisions followed by effective actions. The ability to act decisively is one part of why these heroes are so valuable to our society.
In fact, taking action is critical because passivity in a critical situation can get a service member or first responder fired, injured, killed, or worse – it can injure or kill others as well. Intentionality is a requirement.
But when dealing with the personal and more private challenges resulting from stress and trauma, why do so many veterans and first responders make poor decisions or no decisions regarding self-care?
It seems the first to respond to the needs of others are often the last to seek help for themselves.
In a field in which intentionality is highly valued, why is it so tempting to remain passive when it comes to making choices to heal?
It is easy for many to chalk it up to pride or a need to protect their careers. And in some cases, that may be true.
But in our experience, there are actually six underlying reasons many people avoid getting the help they need:
Altruism – “My job is to sacrifice myself for others.”
Pride – “There’s nothing they can throw at me that I can’t handle.”
Culture – “We don’t complain. We don’t have problems. Buckle up and drive on.”
Denial – “I’m fine. It’s other people around me that need help and have problems.”
Fear – “If my coworkers or command sense that I’m struggling, I’ll lose their trust. I could get demoted or lose my job so I have to keep this private.”
Defeatism – “Nothing I’ve tried has worked. I won’t be able to change. This is just my new normal.”
These responses are understandable and common, but they are dangerous because they keep those who are struggling from getting the help they need. The wound just keeps on bleeding and they keep “muscling” through their secret suffering.
But to find true healing from trauma, one must be intentional about setting goals and working every day to accomplish those goals.
The Bible tells us that “a man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). Pretty logical. If you plant corn, you’ll harvest corn. No one ever thinks that if you plant corn, you’ll end up with tomatoes. Or if you plant nothing, somehow carrots will magically appear.
But many trauma sufferers don’t consider that this principle also applies to how we deal with adversity and its effects. In fact, this is one of the biggest weapons trauma uses to triumph over us. When tragedy happens, it can feel like our whole life is on hold. And over time, we stop making progress.
If you are like most people, you look for quick fixes to the problem. You throw down some seeds and then expect the desired crop regardless of the work put forth. And for some of us, when that crop doesn’t appear, we get mad at God or blame others.
And it gets worse. When we feel like our true life is stuck on pause, trauma doubles down and begins to add layer after layer of struggle on top of the initial incident. The longer we refuse to work toward healing intentionally, the more complex and damaging symptoms may become. Like a weed, the longer it remains alive, the harder it becomes to remove the entire root system and start fresh.
Situations don’t stay the same. They get better, or they get worse. In effect, neglecting to take action is an action in and of itself.
So this begs the question – what exactly does it look like to start living and healing intentionally? A great first step is to join one of our trauma healing courses.
Learn more at www.rebootrecovery.com
CHRIS ADSIT is the Resource Coordinator for the REBOOT Alliance and co-founder of Firstline.
EVAN OWENS is the Executive Director of the REBOOT Alliance and co-founder of REBOOT Combat Recovery and Firstline.