Bruce Lee said to be like water.
It means adjusting to new situations. Having a flexible mind. Knowing when to play a particular role. Yes, you can say it’s being a bit like psychopaths. They have a remarkable gift of adjusting to whatever life throws at them. Yes, they have no conscience, and that’s terrible, but their ability to play the game of life is remarkable.
The flexible mind helps in dealing with trauma, too. We’re often told to deny our trauma. That’s a mistake. The more you deny something terrible has happened to you, the more it’s going to haunt you. As strange as it sounds, embrace it. Learn from it. Even hate it.
I don’t pretend to understand what many of you are going through right now. I know how terrible racing thoughts can be. Your mind screaming at you, asking about your loved ones, your friends, your acquaintances. Where are they? What’s happening to them? Survivor’s guilt creeping in. You’re alive and your family member is not. Why are you still here, when they are – hopefully – in heaven? What’s the point of living without them? You’re searching for meaning in all this, but there’s none. None that you can think of. The pain might go away, eventually.
Then again, it’s possible that pain is never going to go away. All you can do is accept it, and try not to give in to racing thoughts and guilt. Find a hobby. Write. Help others. Whatever you can do to find a purpose. Find someone who has gone through something similar. A conversation with a person who has gone through similar trauma is much better than talking to psychiatrists and psychologists stuck in ivory towers. Do you believe you’re going to see your loved ones in the afterlife, yet, your mind is screaming nonsense? Tell your mind to shut up.
There’s no logic to all this. Don’t look for it. We are in a twisted world.
It’s the journey that counts.
Rage is okay, too. Rage is healthy. We’re often told to be civil. There’s nothing civil about what’s happening. Scream and shout if you need to. Your trauma won’t heal if you just keep it bottled up inside. Have your words hurt someone? It happens.
We aren’t saints. Don’t despair. Don’t dwell on misfortune for too long because it’s going to consume you.
You’re going to come across people who are friendly. You’re going to come across people who are helpful. You’re going to come across people who hate you and even want you dead.
The point is to shift your mindset as fast as possible in these circumstances. Talk to your militant atheist friend and then to a devoutly religious family member. Don’t get angry because someone doesn’t think like you. Get used to all sorts of reactions. Pleasant and unpleasant. Be honest with yourself.
I’ve traveled across the world and have met countless people. It’s fair to say my experience in dealing with people is vast. Over time, I’ve developed a sense. There are no life coaches who can teach you how to deal with all sorts of people and traumas. Sure, you can talk to them, practice, but it’s never going to be the same as going through something yourself, or talking to someone who’s gone through something similar. The difference between talking about going through something and actually going through something is like taking part in a mock trial and a real trial. Don’t expect people like me to truly grasp what you’re going through. I can’t.
When you’re traumatized, you don’t need to like the world. Ever again. It’s okay. Your trauma is your own and you decide how you process it. If someone doesn’t like it – to hell with them. Metaphorically speaking, of course. You do you.
Be a bit like a psychopath. Charm when you need to. Harm when you need to. Use your trauma to guide you and motivate you, not paralyze you.