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EMOTIONAL /SPIRITUAL RECOVERY FROM TRAUMATIC EVENTS

Life can change in a heartbeat. A few weeks ago, a family was stopped at a red light and rear-ended by a drunk driver. Their 10-year old son, Matthew, suffered a severe head trauma and is in a medically induced coma. The prognosis is not good and the family struggles to make sense of what was an act of sheer reckless endangerment. While hopefully many of us will never experience a trauma of this magnitude, we will all face some type of serious emotionally shock that we need to deal with. In some instances, the ordeal can be so severe as to dramatically alter who we are and the course of our lives. One’s life becomes unrecognizable in an instant. Even in those circumstances when we are given time to prepare for the inevitable, such as the death of a loved one suffering with Alzheimer’s or MS, the loss can be significant. In any event, one experiences a wide range of emotions that need to be addressed and healed in order that the individual can minimize any long term damage.

Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association as the emotional response to an extremely negative event. It can manifest physically as well as emotionally. It is absolutely vital that one acknowledges their feelings rather than deny them. Every feeling has purpose and value and denial of such in no way dissipates them. They reside within causing unimaginable issues on multiple levels until identified and treated, much like termites on wood.

All emotions are the direct result of our thought process. What I think, my internal voice – the words I say to myself – dictates how I feel. Therefore, I choose my feelings. In any given moment, I can change how I feel by changing what I’m thinking. What makes trauma so challenging from our day-to-day emotional state of mind is that we continually replay the powerful event in our minds giving it energy to grow larger and more powerful. An understandable obsession that continually reinforces the horrific event we just experienced keeps it alive in our minds long after it has ceased. There are also neurological changes that occur in the brain after trauma as well.*

Common Emotional Reactions and Spiritual Solutions

Shock occurs when an event is so sudden or unexpected that we experience an extreme state of disbelief. Oftentimes, our belief system has conditioned us that such a terrifying act could not possibly happen to us. We believe we are immune to such a severe type of crisis. Initially, the shock can be so acute as to cause one to shut down emotionally, experiencing a sense of numbness and stoicism.
Slow, deliberate deep breathing enables oxygen to travel to the brain providing much needed nutrients that maintain mental clarity and stimulate our logical thought process. Realizing that no one is immune to tragedy and that God continually provides every resource needed to navigate this dark path gives us hope and strength to continue. That same faith in our loving Father reminds us that on the other side of tragedy is triumph as God heals our pain and restores inner peace and even joy.

Confusion: lacking clarity and direction. When one’s brain succumbs to emotional overload, it can be difficult to think clearly and make rational decisions.
Enlisting the aid of others willing to share their knowledge about what transpired can help you better understand what occurred. Expressing your hopes about what you want to do next and your longer term goals gives others the opportunity to guide you in the right direction and offer valuable resources to assist you. Breaking things down into smaller segments helps make the process more manageable and alleviates anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed.

Denial: one’s unwillingness or inability to accept the reality of what transpired. Extreme disbelief deceives us into believing that there was a horrible mistake or that this is simply a bad dream from which we will awake. Fueled by fear, it keeps us trapped in an alternative reality.
Both logic and faith are the team mates that will help to bring us to victory over the inevitable. With the assistance of facts and the input of those we trust, we can face the truth about said event.”The truth shall set you free” is more than a catchy cliché. It is a powerful belief that reminds us that only when we deal with reality are we really able to take back our lives and move forward. Remember that God has already prepared us to face every challenge that enters our life and with each one our lives are enriched.

Sadness results when life does not cooperate with our plans. We experience disappointment and a sense of loss. One’s marriage was supposed to last forever yet somehow ended in divorce; homelessness is for those in underprivileged neighborhoods, not for the college educated. Sadness is a powerful emotion that robs us of the joy and motivation necessary to fully embrace life.
Prayer, our conversation with God, is a great tool to remove sadness and restore joy. Reminding ourselves of all that God continually blesses us with each day, what still remains in our lives to be grateful for, is the perfect antidote to sadness. One cannot be sad and grateful simultaneously.

Anger is derived from feelings of helplessness or powerlessness and is an outward expression of intense vulnerability and weakness. Extreme anger leads to rage. One experiences anger when their expectations are not forthcoming.
Everything external is beyond my control. I have no authority over anything outside of myself and my thought process. Realizing that life is not intended to conform to my demands and by putting my faith in the One who created and loves me beyond measure, I can relax and allow life to unfold organically. I understand that whatever enters my life has a higher purpose and is meant for my spiritual evolution. I can refocus my energies on how I allow my new circumstances to affect me, strengthen me ,and enrich my life.

Regret: one feels remorseful over what they failed to do or what was done improperly. An intense desire to relive the situation so that one can craft a more desirable outcome is not uncommon.
Recognizing that every experience, good, bad or indifferent, is a necessary part of one’s emotional and spiritual journey brings great comfort. Additionally, choosing to learn from the experience and share that knowledge with others so they may learn as well, adds immense value to a tragedy. Vowing to refrain from repeating the same unfortunate choices builds confidence that future traumas can be averted.

Fear is the antithesis of faith. We worry that the event will reoccur or that we may not survive what we just witnessed. Anxiety also arises from our concerns that we and/or others may not be fine with their new circumstances. Extreme fear can result in panic attacks, creating an immobility that prevents the individual from moving beyond the incident.
On a practical level, one can rely on their inner strength and attitude to overcome fear. Building on prior experiences of overcoming hardships helps to strengthen one’s self-confidence. However, faith in God, trusting in the promises of the Lord, is the true path to overcoming fear. When one truly knows that God would never allow anything to enter our lives that we were ill-prepared to handle, and handle well. His perfect love for us would shield us from that experience if necessary. Therefore, I need not fear the here-and-now nor the future for the same loving God is ever present.

Blame is a self-defeating behavior directed at the one we believe to be rightfully responsible or it can be wrongfully aimed on the self. People may hold themselves accountable for something they had no control over. For example: a parent whose child is diagnosed with a severe disease may feel as though there was something defective within them that they inadvertently passed along to their child, causing their child to become ill. Some blame God. However, our loving Father cannot cause bad things to happen as this violates His very nature. He gave us free will, intellect and choice. Events of the human genre are caused by man’s own actions.
Blame involves judgment which is a defeating action as it devalues the individual. Taking ownership for one’s mistakes while being compassionate of mankind’s imperfections removes shame, self-loathing, and misdirected anger. Forgiveness for their misguided actions and for their weaknesses allows us to move beyond anger and blame and restore the peace God intended for us.

Revenge often follows blame (of others). There is a natural human need to seek justice on those who perpetrated the offense against us. However, vengeance never produces justice as it cannot right a wrong or undo what has happened. One is still left with the residual effects of the event and a healing must still occur. Revenge is often thought of as a learning tool for the offending party as well as a deterrent from committing the atrocity again. However, neither has ever proven effective and only perpetuates suffering onto another.
Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. This in no way implies that God will punish those who committed the offense. On the contrary: Divine Love seeks to teach and heal and that is what God seeks for all His misguided children. Prayer is a powerful deterrent to revenge. Pleading for mercy for the offender heals the one making the request.

Guilt is not an uncommon reaction to a traumatic event particularly when others have suffered more than you, been severely injured or lost their lives. Survivors guilt is a common occurrence when others have passed away.
Understanding that you were in no way responsible for the event occurring, nor could you have prevented it is a good beginning. Many survivors find great comfort in realizing that God has a special plan for them. Realizing this and fulfilling His Will can be very comforting and alleviate residual guilt. It is also important to remember that even for those who have been injured, their experience is just as much a necessary part of their life’s journey as your suffering is for you. This in no way minimizes it but simply helps one to find some sense of peace, though rarely in its entirety. As for death, many view it as an end or a punishment. It is neither. Death is a transition from the temporal physical world back to the existence of eternal spirit which is our ultimate goal. One can find great comfort in knowing the other party has achieved a state of permanent salvation.

Never allow your life or who you become to be defined by your trauma. You are not your ordeal. It was a life experience that has a higher purpose. Your knowledge of and reliance on God will enable you to better navigate your way through a devastating event to a more empowered and meaningful life.

Acceptance of what is or what must be for our higher spiritual awareness allows us to find peace in our new circumstance.

Order The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html

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*https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/09/16/the-science-behind-ptsd-symptoms-how-trauma-changes-the-brain/

RIGHTEOUS ANGER

In regards to anger, I have good news and some bad news. First the good news: there is nothing wrong with being angry. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. It is even necessary for justice to preside as well as for our very survival. The bad news is that it is not ok to express it whenever and however we want. Letting it out can prove to be detrimental to our health, well-being, safety, and even our very lives. According to a study at Stanford University, explosive outbursts can lead to the formation of blood clots. And we know all-to-well that one clot to the heart or brain can be deadly. Inappropriate anger can damage relationships, reputations, get us fired from our jobs, cause destruction of property, injure others emotionally or physically, and even land us in jail. Suppressing anger has its drawbacks as well. It can manifest as all sorts of physical health issues ranging from migraines, high blood pressure, and colitis to cancer and more. Emotionally, repressed anger can result in depression, moodiness, sadness, and an overall dissatisfaction with life, just to name a few.

Even with a laundry list of potential quandaries, anger still has a vital function in our lives. Like all emotions, it is a messenger and in this regard alerts us to the fact that something is wrong; that something or someone does not meet our standards of acceptability. For example, I may become angry if I see one child being given special treatment over others. This creates an inequity that violates my moral principles, causing me to become concerned, angry or irate. This is a good thing. However, it’s only when I express or use my anger in a destructive manner does it become problematic. Ideally, I convert my anger into positive actions which will help to rectify the situation.

But how can we be certain that our anger is appropriate and righteous as opposed to corrupt or immoral? For clarity and guidance, I rely on the Word of God found in the Bible.

In Proverbs 12:16 we are told that anger and foolishness go hand-in-hand: “Fools quickly show that they are upset, but the wise ignore insults”. In addition to insults, there are a host of perceived offenses that we can choose to ignore rather than respond to. If someone tells me my children are poorly behaved, I need not retaliate with a cutting remark. I can consider the possible truth to their comments or simply let it go without taking personal offense.

God does permit His people to get upset while still remaining faithful to Him. For example, Nehemiah (5:6) got angry after learning about the wealthy Israelites’ exploitation of the poor: “Then I was very angry when I had heard these words.” He became irate at their ungodly behavior and the injustices being perpetrated against those less fortunate. God calls upon us to care for all of His children equally. In this instance, the Israelites were in violation of Divine Law.

Even Jesus expressed anger at the Pharisees who exhibited indifference. In Mark 3:1-5 “Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there… Jesus said to the man…, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. ” Jesus was incensed at the lack of compassion for the suffering of another human being and their unwillingness to get him the care he so rightly deserved. Anger that violates God’s Law of love and concern for another is righteous anger. To become enraged over the sinfulness of others is acceptable in God’s eyes.

As a Christian or anyone who truly believes in and loves our Lord, we are expected to react strongly to such issues as abuse, racism, abortion, pornography, infidelity, oppression, murder, poverty, greed, and war – to any activity or belief not founded in love and kindness, the very tenets of God’s Being. However, the justification of our feelings does not give us license to act out in anger or aggression. I am given authority to condemn an activity but not the individual committing it. “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Ephesians clearly dictates righteous anger in Chapter 4:26 “When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day.” There is no justification ever for responding with hostility, rudeness, or assaults of any kind.

One’s motives and intent behind the emotion and behaviors is a key to determining when anger is permissible by God: Is my intent to help or harm the other party? Do I seek to make the circumstances better for all parties or only myself or a chosen few? Am I fighting to be right or to do what is right? These are critical questions in determining when anger is acceptable and appropriate; when it is virtuous rather than sinful. In this regard, these same questions give us pause to determine if a situation is even worthy of our ire. James 1:19 reminds us: “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” Applying my 10 year rule (“Will I remember this issue in 10 years and if I do, will it even matter?”) is a powerful tool to measure the worthiness of the incident. The SWaT Strategy* can easily prevent anyone’s anger from overpowering them and causing an sinful reaction.

Again, one is not expected to ignore those times when we feel angry. However, we must be certain to refrain from retaliation and respond with redemptive action instead. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26–27). Whether in our families, communities or regarding global issues, we can speak up or join organizations working on correcting life’s inequities. On a more personal level, we must always be stewards of virtue, being an extension of God’s presence and love in this world. In everything we say or do, with every individual we encounter, we must be love. After all, it is not only what is expected of us but it is who we are – it is the very essence of our nature.

Paul gives us some sound advice on the appropriate approach: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary we are instructed: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19–21). In this way, we can stop the cycle of anger and aggression and show others the moral path to salvation.

Righteous anger aligns with what would anger God Himself – when we are confronted with sin, that which violates Divine Law. It is directed at sinful behaviors and unmistakable injustice; it does not attack or degrade those committing the offense. (Love the sinner, hate the sin.)This is a critical distinction to make that few are able to apply. Typically, we attack the egregious person and demean them rather than staying focused on their actions. A child who fights with their sibling needs to be shown the righteous path. “You are a bad child! You are horrible!” does not educate the child but rather instills shame within them. “This is your little brother. It’s very hurtful to him when you treat him unkindly and that is wrong. You are to always be kind and loving to him. Here’s how to do that.” In this way, the parent shows their child the errors of his ways and puts him on the path to being more loving. This is using anger in a positive way. If our outrage results in bringing others into a loving and restorative relationship with God and it is done so with great care and concern, it’s righteous indignation.

For anger to be righteous, it cannot arise in response to a violation of my personal preferences, that is that I have been inconvenienced or I feel that my rights and freedoms have been violated or because someone has offended me. It reacts against that which is actually sinful. Additionally, it is accompanied by Godly actions. We do not use words, tone of voice, facial expressions, or our hands to hurt the other person. We express ourselves in a respectful manner which does not involve cursing, making fun of, ignoring, yelling, intimidating, threatening, any form of physical violence. It is thoughtful of the other person’s feelings and seeks to make a positive difference. Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”

In summary:
1.Righteous anger reacts against actual sin. It is the result of an accurate perception of true evil, from sin as defined biblically, i.e., as a violation of God’s Word). Righteous anger does not result from merely being inconvenienced or from violations of personal preference or human tradition.
2.Righteous anger focuses on God and His kingdom, rights, and concerns, not on me and mine. It identifies offenses against God and His name, not me. Viewing something as offensive is not enough. It must be offensive to God.
3.Righteous anger is accompanied by other Godly qualities and expresses itself in Godly ways. It remains self-controlled, avoids cursing, screaming, raging, or flying off the handle. It is not consumed with self-pity or despair. It does not ignore people, snub them or withdraw from people. It is always respectful, thoughtful, kind, firm, and fair.

Remember, anger is an acceptable emotion if in fact it is generated from a morally offensive action and is expressed in a manner consistent with God’s Way. Righteous anger can be a powerful force for creating a society of high moral integrity and true justice for all.

Q: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” Romans 12:19–21

* The Secret Side of Anger by Janet Pfeiffer

Order The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html

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THE T-I-B-Bs AFFECT ON ANGER

Although we often classify a person’s actions as problematic, in truth a person’s conduct is never the real problem. Behavior is nothing more than an outward expression of an internal issue. For example, if an individual is in a bad mood and arguing with those around them, the fighting simply indicates a possible insecurity or fear. Perhaps the person is worried about their health and others are offering unsolicited advice. Their angst is overwhelming and can easily be expressed as agitation, causing them to vehemently dispute every suggestion for possible treatment.
A common reaction for a child who is being teased is crying, followed by an angry outburst. The emotion that proceeds the anger is critical to identifying the underlying cause: crying indicates pain or hurt – either physical or emotional. Like an animal who’s been injured, one lashes out as a means of self-protection. Fear of experiencing further pain compels the individual (or animal) to summon their rage in an attempt to get the attacker to back off.

Keep in mind, too, that the offensive behavior may in no way be connected to what is transpiring in the moment. Very often, there are old unresolved issues from one’s past that are being triggered by what is currently taking place. The person is not necessarily responding to the present stimuli but it serves as a reminder of a prior event.

In prior shows, I’ve discussed the three root causes of anger: hurt, fear, and/or frustration. As I just mentioned, the preceding emotion to anger invites a deeper insight into TIBBs: The Issues Behind the Behaviors. Certainly people can deny their anger or try to suppress or control it. However, none of these allows for a healing to occur. Denial of cancer does not heal the disease. Only when it is identified and treatment (whether conventional or holistic) begins does the afflicted activate the healing process and restoration of wellness.

So how does one identify the issues behind the behaviors? Again, taking a moment to ascertain the prior emotion is a perfect beginning to unraveling this puzzle. From there, one needs to work backwards to the point of origin, much the way a detective at a crime scene would. Here are some examples:
Monday night I was not in my typical cheerful frame of mind. Having to take a family member to court is something I prayed for a long time would not occur. But luck was not on my side and an attorney needed to be retained. Whenever I have contact with him, I become extremely distressed and conflicted. Being inquisitive as to how this issue was progressing, my husband queried me as to what the latest news was. If humans could growl, my response to him, while not disrespectful by any means, had a hint of canine in it. “It’s not going well at all! I just don’t want to pursue this but I’m caught in the middle and have to continue.”

I was annoyed (the mildest form of anger) and responded abruptly. But what emotion kindled the irritation? Hurt, for certain, that such a close family member could set out to deliberately harm me. Secondly was frustration that without legal representation I was basically powerless (from a purely human/physical perspective). Granted, I could choose to do nothing at all but doing so would only give cause for a continued problem with said family member. Lastly was fear – not the terrifying kind but a deep concern that justice would not prevail and that this individual would continue to cause duress in my life as they have for many years prior.

Once able to identify the root cause(s), I need to continue regressing to uncover the issues behind them. The hurt I was experiencing revealed several concerns: first that someone I loved and trusted for my entire life could become so vengeful towards me. The trust we shared for more than half a century was broken and most likely would never be restored. Betrayal is a deep wound that could take years to heal. Add to that the fact that a valued relationship had ended and I felt a sense of grief as well.

Behind the fear existed the deep sense of a responsibility I was granted that I may not be able to fulfill due to unforeseen circumstances. There was more at stake here than just myself. Many others were dependent on my ability to fulfill my duties. I was deeply afraid of disappointing them, even though on every level they would understand completely. I was also concerned that I would be letting down the ones who entrusted this task to me. When given a responsibility, I have always felt compelled to follow it through no matter what. I was taught to never quit and it is nearly impossible for me to do so, even when completely justified. In that regard, I see myself as having failed and for me, that’s a tough burden to carry.

Interestingly, the frustration arose from conflicting beliefs. When one feels powerless over a situation, they need to stop and inquire if said circumstance needs more energy or effort of another kind, or does it fall into the not meant to be category? Ego and its need for justice was at odds with spirit who argued that perhaps God wanted me to let go and trust that He would right this injustice.

So in summary, my (mild) anger was not the issue. Behind it lied the trifector: hurt, fear, and frustration. And beneath each of those resided issues of a broken trust, grief (loss of a loved one), a possible exaggerated sense of responsibility, fear of disappointing others, and inability to accept a perceived defeat. The battle between ego and spirit was at the root of my frustration: seek justice or allow an inequity to prevail? Or is the real issue to allow God’s justice to triumph over my version?

In this particular situation, the issue was a bit more complex than in others yet the process to uncover TIBBs (The Issues Behind the Behaviors) is the same. In order to heal anger, one must be willing to undergo this somewhat lengthy, and sometimes, challenging process in order to emerge strong and healthy. Failure to do so only gives license for those unresolved issues to fester and grow, interfering with one’s ability to be happy and live unencumbered by life’s relentless challenges.

What I need to work on are these:
Healing the hurt: only when we set up expectations of others do we put ourselves at risk to be hurt and disappointed. As much as I disapproved of the actions of my family member, I also realize that I have no right to impose my ways on her. What she is doing, as morally reprehensible as it is, is a necessary part of her spiritual journey. Once I am able to fully accept this, I can remove the judgments I’ve placed on her and find the inner peace I am seeking.

Healing the grief: we hold on too tightly to our relationships, especially those of a personal nature. We subscribe to the adage that blood is thicker than water; that you should always be able to count on your family. Yet in truth, our families are made up of imperfect beings with their own issues and agendas. No relationship, sans God, is meant to last forever. I need to remind myself that we shared a lot of good years together and as in death we are no longer a part of each other’s lives.

Let go of responsibility: even the most trustworthy and conscientious people sometimes fall short of fulfilling their duties. Unforeseen circumstances can deter the most determined of us. Like the weather, there are some things we simply don’t have control over. This in no way indicates a failure on the part of the entrusted one. I have always defined failure as a lack of effort. As long as one makes a concerted attempt there is some success that has been achieved. Letting go is in no way a reflection of my integrity or worth. It can be a recognition of the wisdom of letting things simply be; trusting that life is meant to unfold naturally and not necessarily according to my desires.

Neutralizing frustration: the battle between spirit and ego is a universal one that plagues all of humanity. In this instance, I need to remind myself that God’s Will must take precedence over mine. Relying on Scripture for guidance, I found passages that seemed to contradict themselves. From Isaiah 1:17: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Yet Luke tells us in Chapter 6:29 “If someone slaps you on one cheek turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” Therein lies the root of my concern: how can I fully know how God wants me to proceed in this issue?

If you were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and your doctor gave you a list of activities you must abide by in order to heal your body, there would be no hesitation in following his directives immediately and completely. Yet many will be hesitant to embark on this journey of emotional healing claiming it is time consuming and tedious. But this I can promise you: that if you put forth effort you will achieve success. And as with any new practice, in time it will become second nature and you will more easily be able to decipher and heal the underlying issues behind your anger. Here you will discover your inner sanctuary.

Remember, behaviors are never the problem but behaviors can create problems. Identify and heal TIBBs and there you will find your peace. I wish you the best.

Order The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html
Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @ http://ow.ly/OADTf
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