“Thank you for the work you do.” is one of the most humbling responses I get when sharing my mission at MylestoGo Speaking and Consulting. The genuine response of appreciation is often couched in another comment that comes next.. usually not publicly but quietly, in a manner that reminds me why I keep doing this work.
I’m told a story about how I remind them of them. Or a sister, former colleague, employee, the next-door-neighbor from two moves ago: someone they know is just.like.me.
Someone they know – or they themselves - went through something that left trauma in their lives and they’ve carried it like a piece of luggage they could not relinquish everywhere they went. For months. For years. For decades. Some don’t have any idea what it would be like not to carry that extra weight. Some are resigned to it. Some are compelled to relieve themselves of it. But they all have it.
Why does this happen so often? Because one of the universal human experiences is, in fact, trauma. Maybe it’s hard to stop and think about that, but it’s the truth. Even before the shared trauma of the global pandemic, hardship, struggle, pain, and yes, traumas are among the things we can nearly count on as humans. If we get in the ring to participate in this one, wild life, we will get hurt at some point.
What has confounded – and propelled me – in this work though isn’t actually the trauma itself. It’s the lack of conversation, the lack of consideration for this essential human experience, and the failure of our society (referring to modern Western society) to acknowledge our shared experience, our shared responsibility, and thus, our shared capacity to deal with trauma. The reports are swirling all around us: mental health and wellness among individuals has never been lower. Rates of suicide, depression, anxiety are soaring even among our youngest citizens. Our workers are unhealthy, feelings unsafe, and lack systems to support themselves and their colleagues. Our communities and households are weighed down with violence. Yet somehow, we don’t want to acknowledge it. We don’t want to talk about it. We don’t want to address this problem for what it is: a systemic issue affecting every aspect of our communities.
Trauma might manifest individually – but I assure you, trauma is not an individual problem.
I am also convinced that the antidote for trauma (not traumatic experiences) isn’t individual either.
It falls to all of us. Not to engage in a deep, dark trauma-sharing - indeed, we need some of that support for which I thank the beautiful therapists, counselors, social workers, and psychiatrists who help us unpack that luggage piece-by-often-painful piece – instead, I suggest it falls to us to engage in Radical Wellness. I believe that we are collectively responsible for cultivating a culture that recognizes and honors our shared humanity, our shared pain, yes, but also our shared capacity for finding growth, beauty, and power after our trauma. This is not to say that trauma doesn’t affect the individual – of course it does – but it is incongruent to continue to talk about the affected individual as if they live in a bubble and do not affect others over and over again with their traumas as they interact in their communities, workplaces, campuses, homes, etc. However, the (very) good news is the same would be true if we helped those individuals draw on that power: they would then share that result over and over again in their communities, workplaces, campuses, homes, etc.
When I talk about the ‘tools to turn trauma into transformation’, that’s what I’m talking about.
When I talk about ‘thrivorship not survivorship’, that’s what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about crafting a new path to process our experiences that lifts us up and moves us forward. We have to recognize, and yes normalize, the idea that we will have trauma in our lives but just as importantly we have to recognize and normalize the enormous capacity of that experience to be transformational in the most incredible ways: ways that can benefit, beautify, and propel our society forward – Radically Well ways.
When we are informed and empowered by Radical Wellness, we engage in solutions-focused processes. We honor experiences as valid and look for the power of our collective wisdom to raise them up, learn from them, cultivate the strengths we can find in them, and move forward. We aren’t interested in shame or blame – in fact, with Radical Wellness, we not only recognize the collective power we have to transform from these traumas, we also recognize that ongoing systemic not individual failures have too often been co-conspirators in inflicting trauma into our communities at a minimum, and sometimes are in fact the core of them.
That’s why I’m introducing a new program, Radically Well, into my offerings at MylestoGo Speaking and Consulting. The participants in this program understand, as I do, that trauma is a systemic issue resulting in systemic defects – not individual ones. In Radically Well we’ll craft conversations, frameworks, and unique solutions that address this issue; daring to shift cultures in the workplace, nonprofits, organizations, educational institutions, and communities with out-of-the-box, wide-scale and unapologetic empowerment and collective action.
Because it’s about all of us – all of us getting to be ‘Radically Well’.
MylestoGo Speaking and Consulting is on a mission to elevate the conversation around trauma, trauma-informed practices, and post-traumatic growth, and to help individuals, organizations, and communities transition from 'survivorship to thrivorship.' I am committed to providing the tools that turn trauma into transformation through education, resources, and support that inform and empower all people to overcome the challenges of trauma and discover their full potential for growth and resilience. Through these efforts, I strive to create a world where trauma is understood, acknowledged, and met with compassion, and where individuals can thrive in the aftermath of adversity.
You can reach out to me here or on a variety of social media channels. Let’s connect and get ‘Radically Well’.