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The essence of healing PTSD is two-fold:
Number 1 – we need to rout out the traumatic memory on the subconscious level
Number 2 – we need to construct a post-trauma identity
That’s it; pretty plain and simple. In the subconscious realm where we house our feelings and emotions, where experience is imprinted beyond our control, we need therapeutic help to reframe events and release our attachments to them.
On the conscious level, however…. it’s a whole other ball game. In the conscious arena we can effect change through making decisions, committing to them and following through. Plan. Commit. Act. Heal.This means we can construct a post-trauma identity – a new self, undistorted by trauma, unaffected by PTSD – through choice, focus and action.
This idea of creating the self is very familiar to creative artists. On the outskirts of society, unappreciated and initially undiscovered, many artists have had only their own self and their belief in that self to rely upon in practicing, promoting and achieving their art.
Like us, artists do not have the strongest social personalities, nor are they comfortable in their own skin, at peace with their desires or in step with the world around them. Often, they are reclusive, troubled, disturbed, insecure and frightened. And yet, despite the chaos in their minds (and many of their documented mental illnesses) they construct strong personas and commit to living them with fearless dedication. The end goal is their art, and they will do anything for it. Despite their mental issues they call up a deep reserve of strength and belief in themselves and achieve goals that seem out of reach.
There’s a lesson here for us PTSDers: The self can be consciously, practically, determinedly constructed. In partnership with trauma reduction therapies, we can and need to do self-directed work to design and inhabit a new, PTSD-free self. My own healing experience has instilled in me a fierce belief that the work we do on ourselves enhances and quickens the healing process.
Today then, some words of inspiration for this goal of constructing a post-trauma identity. Drawn from my extensive research on creative artists (I hold an MFA in Poetry and have lectured nationally on the topic of creativity), I offer these insightful wisdoms from some of the greatest artists in history, men and women who struggled with their own mental illnesses and social alienations to overcome doubt, insecurity and fear to achieve not only an incredible level of art, but also an intense richness of personality that supported them in anything they attempted to do.
I continue to believe that it is better to perfect oneself little by little and by one’s own efforts. ~ Camille Pisarro
At any age we grow by the enlarging of consciousness, by learning…. That implies a new way of looking at the universe. ~ May Sarton… what I want to say is not more or less than that any man is unconscious of some peculiar great hidden force, deeply hidden in him, until sooner or later he is awakened. ~ Vincent van Gogh Again I am compelled to state how I believe that attitude is everything. ~ Sylvia Plath
I wanted my world made in my own image, a world that would breathe my spirit. I made myself God, since there was nothing to hinder me. ~ Henry Miller
Don’t wait for it. Create a world, your world. Alone. Stand alone. Create. ~ Anais Nin
Do you have personal quotes about self-empowerment that you like? Add them below. The more we visualize who we want to be the sooner we’ll leave behind who PTSD has made us become.
(photo: The Dog’s Daddy)
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