Today I’ve been handed a fresh perspective on all the trauma etc that I’m dealing with.
Note: Apologies in advance if this comes across as advertorial in any way. I promise its not! Believe me, I’m just as surprised as anyone reading this, that I’m writing a post on this topic.
Through my work, I was sent on a course called “7 Habits of Highly Effective People“. There are a series of courses based on a book of the same name by a guy called Stephen Covey. As a point of interest – apparently Mr Covey is something like 85 years old!!
I’ve been sent on a number of different ‘self improvement’ courses over the years throughout my career. They have always seemed rather tacky, or lacking in any real power to help you work your shit out. So I wasn’t overly enthused when I was ‘volunteered’ to attend something that was going to take me away from my job for three whole days.
Whilst I’m writing this after day one of a three, so far I’m quite impressed with what has been presented.
One of the many points we discussed today was around the choices we make in our lives. The fact that we can’t control what other people do, but we can control how we respond to their actions.
For those who, like me, are dealing with mental health issues… this is a very interesting proposition. I didn’t get the chance to question the facilitator in more detail today but I plan to. I mean, this course was aimed at a group of people working in the corporate world. Sure, we looked at how the principals of the course apply to both our personal and professional lives, but not, say, how you apply them to an incident of trauma or abuse. Or when a flashback appears. You know.
Anyway, this post is actually about one of the stories used to illustrate the ‘choices’ point. And this is when we were introduced to a man called Viktor Frankl. I’d never heard of him before and I wondered how many other people are also in this boat? In summary, he:
- was born in 1905
- was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist
- was a Holocaust survivor
- was an author of numerous books on mental health
- died in 1997
His wife and family were tortured (as was he). At the end of the war, only Viktor and his sister survived.
Viktor’s work on psychotherapy evolved out of his death camp experiences based on observations like:
“If a prisoner felt that he could no longer endure the realities of camp life, he found a way out in his mental life – an invaluable opportunity to dwell in the spiritual domain, the one that the SS were unable to destroy. Spiritual life strengthened the prisoner, helped him adapt, and thereby improved his chances of survival.”
~ From wikipedia
As I said, I haven’t had the chance to question the course facilitator yet – on exactly how far they think this idea of choices can extend when dealing with mental health. And whether they’ve done any work in the mental health field. But I will.
Yet – hearing about Viktor Frankl was both inspiring and humbling. This man survived Nazi death camps, torture and the death of his loved ones. Apparently, he survived all of this by keeping a vision of how he was going to help others when he finally got out. Oh, and doing his utmost to support his fellow prisoners whilst still imprisoned himself.
Ofcourse, there’s nothing I’ve ready so far that mentions his state of mental health – how he handled what must have been some really intense shit!! You know what they say about therapists being the ones who need the most help? Well, he can’t have come out of that situation completely okay, right??
Assuming my last point is true, then we can see that just because a person is suffering from depression, PTSD or other related issues… doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and happy life. A useful life. One in which you help others.
I’ve been making new acquaintances in this blogosphere, and realising that there are many of you out there who are in that same boat and do try to make a difference. I guess in Viktor’s case, the higher the stakes, the higher his motivation – or something like that?
I’m inspired, and I just thought I’d share. And I’ll keep you posted on anything else I uncover on my course.