Psychiatrist and Montel Williams show Director of Aftercare Salzer offers an instruction guide to overcoming the deleterious effects of emotionally wrenching experiences.
“How does a person live through a life-altering challenge yet emerge still self-possessed, still hopeful, still empowered,” asks the author at the beginning of this practical guide to beating the often crippling aftershock of trauma—be it uppercase Trauma, such as rape or death, or lowercase trauma, as in any situation that has robbed you of self-esteem and left you fearful and helpless (a health issue, job loss, betrayal, etc.). When trauma becomes “permatrauma”—maladaptive behavior in which the lessons of the worst day become the guideposts of the everyday—then, Salzer writes, it is time to recalibrate your mindset. In addition to affirmation and cheerleading, the author tenders some serious tools. She doesn’t simply ask readers to ad lib their way through various evaluative templates; she provides extensive lists of possible answers to either use or to jump-start your replies. When she suggests finding a greater meaning in the experience, she gives numerous examples, from the teachings of Viktor Frankl to tactics to reframe your boss’ daily insults. If you identify with the passive-victim mode, Salzer serves up specific exercises in awareness, assertiveness and harvesting positive associations. She provides a crash course in survivorship, abetted by a positive psychology that draws from resilience theory, cognitive therapy and learned optimism, with cues taken from people who display resilient talents like flexibility, accountability, the perception of success and developing some form of social network. A few of Salzer’s strategies may seem a stretch at this difficult juncture—reaching for the flow state, for example—but in her hands, something as simple as a worry stone can help find you “navigating a path through traumaville.”
A sensible escort to identifying and deploying signature strengths buried by traumatic emotional paralysis.