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Trauma, Self-Care and Positive Outcomes

Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychologist from Austria, endured the nightmare of NAZI Concentration Camps.  In doing so, he observed the different ways people dealt with the trauma. Some allowed it to overwhelm them, doing anything to survive like stealing food from fellow prisoners who were weaker.  Others chose to rise above it, choosing to be their best selves, a source of support and inspiration to all. Even in the most horrific of circumstances.

After the war, Frankl wrote the book “Man’s search for Meaning” in which he sought to make sense of all he had seen and heard. In it he observed:

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies growth and freedom.

Frankl realised that it was in this space, no matter how fleetingly, that people made the decisions that determined the difference between those that rose to be their best selves and those that allowed their baser traits to take over.

Here at Baptist Care SA, our work also exposes us to trauma, though hopefully not like that of Frankl. It doesn’t matter whether we are front line or office staff, we may be impacted by the stories of those we care for and the challenges of providing that care.

For each of us, there is the challenge of response. Do we allow these events to which we are exposed to drag us to a dark place or motivate us to be our best selves?

If you are looking to be your best self, then one helpful behaviour to develop is that of using that space between stimulus and response to focus on the positives of our work with clients rather than the negatives. Positive psychology teaches us that this will significantly reduce the impact of the challenges our work can bring and help us maintain our wellbeing.

Ian Warner
Staff Chaplain

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