Congruent with the month of May, which is mental health awareness month, there’s a piece of research that’s been resurfacing in my brain.
Dr. Helmreich, a sociologist, interviewed hundreds of Holocaust survivors. Surprisingly, a large number of them live, by and large, very happy lives.
Although few of us have been in concentration camps, thank goodness, trauma is something 70% of adults will experience.
A traumatic event is one in which an individual experiences a threat (actual or perceived) of death or serious injury to himself or others.
So learning why and how these Holocaust survivors were able to live fulfilling happy lives after such outrageous trauma is a topic of interest for many of us.
Note: In your personal journey, just beginning to identify trauma, actively uncovering it, grieving, preparing for trauma, these traits are not to push you to be in a different spot. I encourage you to honor where you are in the process.
Below are the 10 traits Dr. Helmreich identifies, and one underlying thread: it is not the severity of trauma that determines ones ability to recover but whether or not one chooses to cultivate the traits of resilience.
- Flexibility – the capability of being bent without breaking – being adaptable.
- Assertiveness – the confidence to ask for what you need, be decisive and self-assured without being aggressive.
- Tenacity – to hold fast and be persistent in the face of pressure.
- Optimism – the tendency to expect a favorable outcome.
- Intelligence – the capacity to learn, reason and understand.
- Courage – the ability to face difficulty and danger with bravery.
- Perspective – The ability to distance themselves from the past so that it did not constantly intrude on their thinking.
- Community – An awareness of belonging to a particular group.
- Assimilation – Assimilating the knowledge that they survived.
- Purpose – The ability to find meaning in their lives.
How can you cultivate these traits? What is one trait you’d like to focus on today?