Goodness, Oh My!  Self-Care While Working with Trauma

In the wake of recent human atrocities, I find myself engaging in a practice that I used to implement routinely when I first began treating trauma victims.  I would look around and ask myself – Where is the goodness?  It doesn’t take long to notice, the goodness is all around you.

The goodness is in the sweet scent of spring when you open your door in the morning.  It is in the smile that greets you when walk through the door.  The goodness is in the small boy who gives his ice cream cone to his little sister when she drops hers on the floor.  It is in the neighbor who cooks a meal for a woman recently widowed, the anonymous cupcake left on your desk by a concerned colleague, and the vision of a traumatized child you treated years ago standing before you surrounded by a loving wife and happy, thriving children of his own.

I recently enjoyed a lunch with community leader Cynthia Clegg, and during our discussion of human trafficking she inquired as to how I cope with working with a traumatized population.  I told her about the Goodness.  When you work with a population that has been profoundly affected by trauma, noticing and attending to the goodness is essential for self-care.   It is easy to get lost in the work that we do, and to focus only on that which is the opposite of the goodness.  The ‘badness’ is prominent – it is on our radios, our televisions, spam and social media.  It is easy to find.  However, if we are devoted to recognizing the goodness, it is just as easily accessible to us.

As we teach others to practice Linehan’s mindfulness, it behooves us to practice it ourselves.  Being mindful of the goodness is a skill we must cultivate, as essential to our continuing education as the seminars we attend on evidence-based practice.  So as you walk through your days of treating those who lives have been touched by trauma, take note of the goodness that surrounds you, and share it with those who need it most.  It won’t be long before you find it and say to yourself – Goodness, Oh My!!

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