If you see yourself as a survivor rather than a victim of whatever tough times you've been through, then chances are you are a successful survivor. Lots of us don't see ourselves as "successful survivors." Many of us downplay the trauma we've experienced as "not that bad" in comparison to what others have gone through. If that's you, remember that pain is pain, and whatever painful events you've survived were painful for you, and it's OK to acknowledge that.
According to the National Center for PTSD, about 6 of every 10 men (or 60%) and 5 of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives.
There are literally millions of us who have experienced some sort of trauma. We're everywhere. Some of us are keenly aware of the trauma we've survived, while others have never stopped long enough to acknowledge their hard times and give themselves credit for making it through.
Ten of the commonalities among successful survivors of trauma that set us apart from others who have been victimized include:
We refuse to see ourselves as victims. Instead we see ourselves as strong, resilient, resourceful people who get up and press through whether we feel like it or not.
We show up with a smile on our face even when it’s the last thing we feel like doing. We give our best even when we feel like we have nothing left to give.
We connect on a deeper level. When we meet other survivors of trauma for the first time, it’s like we’ve known each other for years. We understand each other. It doesn’t matter that the source or time of our trauma was different, the feelings are the same. We care, and we get it because we’ve been there.
We make the most faithful friends because we know how it feels to be hurt by people who we thought cared about us, and we would never want to be the cause of that pain for anyone else.
We are dependable. Others have let us down, and we would never intentionally do that to anyone.
We are courageous, brave and bold. We feel fear, but it doesn’t stop us.
We are tenacious and determined. We keep trying, and we don’t give up easily. As a result, we make things happen.
We adapt to different personalities and environments without judgment. We have felt devalued, so specifically work to never do that to another. Even when we strongly disagree, we respect the rights and opinions of others.
We care about other people, and we try to alleviate suffering. We shift effortlessly into “helping mode.” We have to be careful not to fall into “people pleasing mode,” because we have a deep desire to belong, and to be valued and loved. Don’t take advantage of that. We have the capacity to forgive while simultaneously permanently ending the relationship.
Because we’ve experienced soul-piercing pain, we can often foresee painful events. When we do, we try to help others avoid them. We'll never stand by quietly and watch someone go full speed toward what we know will be a train wreck.
Successful survivors have been broken, but we don't define ourselves by the worst events of our lives. Our brokenness opens us to a depth of love and connectedness that cannot be attained on a superficial level. When we allow someone to pass the high iron walls that we’ve erected to protect our hearts, our relationships feel like an authentic affinity that requires no explanation.
We know our worth and value. We’ve come a long way. The low self-esteem that we once felt has been replaced with a quiet confidence. We carry ourselves differently. We speak differently. We were once victimized by others when we were too vulnerable to prevent it, but we’re not victims anymore. We’re survivors who are determined to thrive. We have mined the lessons out of all we’ve been through, and we use what we’ve learned to encourage, educate and empower other survivors to see the greatness within themselves. We are an indomitable force.
ARE YOU A SUCCESSFUL SURVIVOR? If so, let us know what you think it means to be a successful survivor. Post your comment on this blog or send it to us here.
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If you've been through tough times, or if you're someone who is helping someone overcome the painful events of their life, check out our helpful videos on our YouTube Channel. And watch for our Successful Survivors Podcast coming soon everywhere you find great podcasts.