Not all of us have had an equitable life. In fact, some people have parents who take them on road trips and sing holiday carols and have deep, meaningful conversations with them. Others of us have fathers who do unspeakable acts of horror or moms that abandon us for the next hottest date in town. Most people aren’t bad; but a lot of people do bad things it seems. And, a lot of times, those bad things leak out onto people’s children and those children grow up to be adults with lots and lots and lots of broken parts.
All of us have something in us that we struggle with; but there is a group of people on this planet who really have gone through the wringer in this life and may be feeling particularly alone or afraid or disempowered right now. This week’s blog is dedicated to them — and, of course, anyone who wants to be inspired by some of the traits that sometimes make the people who have gone through the worst in life, the best kind(s) of people.
Three reasons why people with the most challenges in life are often the very best…
1. All out massive empathic geniuses
People who know pain, well, they actually know pain. What does that mean? Have you ever noticed that the more experiences you go through in life, the less judgmental you become? Have you ever found yourself being so surprised that a behavior or a situation that you might once have misunderstood or judged harshly, when you do it or experience it yourself you go “Oh, NOW I get the thing….Oh THAT is why Sally Ann did the thing she did to me in 1987…she had gone through the exact same deal.” That is called, or is what I’m calling, retroactive empathy.
Now, think of someone who grew up with all the things happening. All the hurts. Abuse, neglect, shaming, and bad, often really bad things. That was so painful for them. It often seems it had or has no purpose to go through such things. And if you are a person who has gone through that kind of life so far, I get that. I understand why it feels, at times, pointless. But it isn’t.
Nobody can argue that most people who experience those horrors are truly some of THE most kind-hearted, non-judgmental, compassionate, patient and giving people on the planet. And let’s face it, this world could use a TON more non-judgment, compassion, patience and giving right about now. In fact, the world is in DESPERATE need of it at this very moment.
Empathy is not given, it is earned. And we earn it through experience. There is a miraculous gift in pain if we can look to it and say, “Wow, I can now go onto others and give kindness and support around the thing I never thought I could ever tolerate.” And that happens with trauma survivors. It happens with them, LIKE, a lot.
We hear so much in the news about people who commit crimes who are victims of childhood trauma. While that is a very small segment of the population; as a person who listens to people tell me about really sad things that happened to them all day, as well as a person who has friends and loved ones who have also gone through some really sad things; I can say that 100 percent ACROSS THE BOARD…every single one of those humans is in the top .1 percent of empathic giants I have ever encountered.
2. Quick to show up for others in a crisis
Trauma survivors know crises. They know how lonely being all alone and afraid can feel. They know how scary it is to keep secrets and to have people you love not be okay. They know it and they feel it. As a result, people who have been through the most in life are often THE FIRST people to show up for others when they are having a hard time. How could they not? They have that superpower of empathy on overload to bring to the table, and they also know how to give and share what feels helpful in the most acute moments of need in other people’s lives. They GET life. And because of that, they show up.
3. The few people they do trust/value, they treat with great love and care
People who grow up around adults who don’t value their safety or their very existence often have great compassion for others, but understandably and reasonably, don’t often trust most people, confide in most people or even deeply value whole hosts of people. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It is, of course, tragically painful to live in a world where most people don’t feel safe to you. And, of course, nothing I say about anything that makes a person who has gone through trauma a person of high integrity can take that pain and that (oftentimes) deep loneliness they carry go away. And that is not in any way my intention. But what I can say without question is that the people out there who trust few, when they do find the few golden eggs that always show up for THEM, always treat them consistently and persistently the same and who always make them feel safe, they value on a level that maybe most people walking around don’t take the time to befall on their loved ones.
Being trusted by a trauma survivor is about one of the greatest gifts you could ever receive on this planet. It is also a sign that you are a safe and consistent human being; and you will reap the rewards of that consistency when the survivor shows you how much your safe presence is a blessing in their life.
Life is hard sometimes. And I don’t want to ever diminish or minimize in any way the horrific challenges with which some people are reared. I also don’t want to make insignificant the myriad challenges and deep feelings of loneliness many people who had to keep secrets their whole lives, or who had to hide away in a closet to feel safe at home had to and will always carry and endure. And there will be blogs for those things too. But, just for today, I want to honor the beautiful qualities that emerge in a person who has known pain; and how in embarking on this life path so bravely, those people are bringing so many miracles and so much benefit to their fellow life passengers — as well as to the planet and universe at large.
Empathic warriors are the best kinds of people. And I’m so honored to have so many of those to fill my days and my practice.
If you are a survivor of trauma and ready to receive the help you need (or move to the next level), I can help. For a free thirty-minute phone consultation, contact me and refer to this blog.