A health trauma, whether your own or a loved one’s, brings with it a whole lot of life lessons very quickly. They’re yours for the learning if you so choose.

But I can understand why you may not want to. You’ve been given them in one fell swoop. That along with the trauma is a lot to hold. They can feel so big and as you are dealing with day-to-day impact of the trauma itself, you may be thinking, ‘Who has time for life lessons?”

And you’re right. Your focus is on dealing with the immediate impact of the trauma.

I’ve been there myself dealing with recovery from a serious illness, grieving for the death of a friend, grieving for my other half and I not being able to have our own children, dealing with the challenges that brought to our relationship, and dealing with challenges at work. All at the same time. I did not have time for life lessons. They came later.

Somehow the life lessons in store for you have a way of hanging around waiting to be seen and used. And because it can feel like a HUGE task to sift through them let alone extract the learning, here I share ideas and tips to help you make sense of it all.

Acknowledge how tough it is to be given so much so quickly

For most people, this is the kind of stuff you learn as you live your life. So when you get to age 50, 60, 70, 80 etc., you have this wisdom and a clearer sense of who you are. You have learned the life lessons gradually over time as you progressed through life’s various stages and milestones. As such, they were easier to digest.

You’ve been given a lot to consider all at once. And you didn’t even ask for it.

Acknowledge the toughness and unfairness of it all with people you trust and who support you.

Picture of a man sitting at a table with a plate in front of him piled high with life lessons from a health trauma. He is saying, 'I didn't order this.' A serious illness can give you so much so quickly, such as life lessons, but you didn't ask for any of that.

It’s ok for the life lessons to wait their turn

If you feel like you don’t have the energy, that’s ok. Like I said, they are good at hanging around and will be there when you are ready.

The life lessons don’t always magically appear before you in crystal clear format

They are very good at hiding in and amongst the rubble of your trauma.

Life lessons are very good at hiding in and amongst the rubble of your #health #trauma. #seriousillness #bereavement Tell a Friend

So how do you start finding these life lessons?

Write down all the questions and frustrations you have and what you’ve learned already about your experience

You’ve been holding on to all this in your head and heart. By writing it down, you put them somewhere else. You let the paper hold it for you. This can free up some of your energy to focus on things you need and want to be focusing on in your day-to-day life. Because as you know, life continues to happen.

You can visit this piece of paper as and when you have the energy to. You can add to it and subtract from it. And you can start answering the questions as imperfectly as you wish.

Writing down your questions and frustrations regarding a #health #trauma you experienced allows you to off load them from your head and heart onto that piece of paper. That way you no longer have to carry them and that frees up… Tell a Friend

You don’t have to deal with these questions and frustrations all at once

You can deal with them one at a time at a rate that feels right for you and your circumstances. You’ve been dealing with a lot so deal with this in a gentle manner with loads of self-compassion.

Picture of a woman holding a very large glass of self-compassion. She is about to take a large dose of self-compassion and she is hoping it tastes ok. On the glass is written, 'I am enough.' You need to show self-compassion to yourself when processing the life lessons you've learned from your own or a loved one's health trauma.

Talking to someone can help you uncover the life lessons and how to apply them in your life

Talking to someone you trust and who supports you can help you uncover the life lessons. Sometimes a third party, whether we know them well or not, can see things we cannot. They can help you find those life lessons a little more quickly than if you did it by yourself.

Another benefit of talking to someone is they can help you hold everything. You are not holding it all by yourself. You know you have dedicated time to talk about your issues in a supportive environment. So the rest of your time can be spent on living.

If talking to someone is not your thing, you can spend time figuring out the life lessons when you walk your dog, when you go running or swimming, knit, bake, draw, paint or play music. You can engage with your questions and feelings during many types of activities.

Life lessons can arrive wrapped in ugly wrapping paper

They’re gifts you didn’t even know were on its way to you. They don’t look particularly inviting in their ugly wrapping paper. And it may not be as enjoyable taking that wrapping paper off. Or it may feel like a relief to get it off.

But when you unwrap the gifts, you find they are the type that can sustain you in a healthy way throughout your life.

Two pictures of a man at a table. In the first, he is looking at an ugly package on the table and saying, 'This is an ugly gift. Who sent it?' In the next picture he has unwrapped the gift and discovers that inside there is a lovely kintsugi bowl. Life lessons from a serious health issue often come wrapped in ugly paper. But there can be a beautiful gift on the inside.

What’s it like for you?

What or who helped you to figure out what you’ve learned from a difficult experience? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a serious health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to figure out what you are learning from a difficult experience and how to apply that in your life, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

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