Experiencing and tragedy or a traumatic event can send us spiraling out of control. Feeling the sudden sensation of derailment, we find ourselves scrambling to try to get back to a place of joy and peace. Our physical, mental, and emotional infrastructure begin to erode away as we are overtaken with incredible amounts of grief. Avoiding this complete collapse of our psyche has many methods, and many people handle it differently. If a loved one has experienced something traumatic, it’s important to let them know that you’re there. Everyone copes in a different way, and it is important that we allow them to express their emotions in a way that best suits them. However, there is a limit. There are coping mechanisms that a person can adopt that cause more harm than good. It is also paramount that you watch out for your loved ones, even if they won’t do it for themselves. They are very likely unaware of how their coping strategies are causing them harm, as they are so preoccupied with recovering from the great emotional and mental wounds they have endured. We, as their support system, have to be vigilant in finding these unhealthy habits and patterns.
As shocking as it may seem, a greatly unhealthy habit for people is to only fill their life with positivity. Someone may decide that they don’t want to allow any negative people or feelings into their life, so they choose to cut those things out. It’s a hiding technique; you are shutting yourself off from the world and creating this false image of what life truly is. Life has peaks and valleys, and it’s important that we allow ourselves to experience these highs and lows. It builds mental strength and maturity and stops you from being sheltered. Life isn’t fair, but we have to embrace that.
Another symptom of unhealthy behavior is dramatizing events or catastrophizing them. It serves as a self-defense mechanism, allowing the person to predict and prepare for the worst so that if the worst does happen, then they won’t be dealt a huge blow. They jump to assumptions before something has even affected them and creates a paranoid state in which they can feel unaffected by the hard moments.
Isolating yourself is next on the list. It is important to allow yourself time to be alone, to process and learn about yourself. But connection is also a vital part of coping and recovery. Completely cutting ourselves off from those around us is damaging to our ability to feel supported and like we are not alone in our grief. There are, of course, exceptions, but these are outliers; toxic people must be taken out of your life or addressed, but cutting out every single person is dangerous to your recuperation.
Looking at How Our Pain Can Cause Us to Add to It
A person undergoing trauma may also try to find a sense of worth by spending their time
with people that they view as “worse” than they are. When their insecurities flare up, they can look at these people and think that at least they’re not as bad as them. But, of course, instilling this sense of conditional superiority implodes on them once they come into contact with someone who is “better”. It is then that they will start to spiral again and feel unworthy of anything in life that they, in fact, are naturally deserving of. This method serves to help deal with a person’s inferiority complex, but can actually reinforce it.
Some people may look back on their past, romanticizing it in a way that stops them from being able to cope with the present situation they are in. If they are experiencing a break-up, they look back on that relationship as something to “get back”. They can’t understand that the relationship ended for a reason; it didn’t work out because there was, actually, a glaring flaw. They choose to remember a false memory of their experience in the relationship, living in a rose-tinted world of nostalgia that is built upon lies that they have created.
These are just a few examples of things you can look out for if you are concerned about a loved one picking up bad or unhealthy habits. We have to let them heal at their own pace, in their own way, but that doesn’t mean we can’t speak up when they are damaging themselves. We are their support system, through the pain of loss or trauma, and through the missteps in recovery. Keep your eyes open for any symptoms we have mentioned, and others that we didn’t. Don’t assume they will pursue the wrong path, but just be ready in case they do. We all are here to help each other along through life’s peaks and valleys, and we all must stand together at every part. We owe ourselves, and each other, that much.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with addiction or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]