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The Harsh Truths About Accepting the Unacceptable

The Harsh Truths About Accepting the Unacceptable

Why is it that people have significantly different outcomes with similar experiences? Have you noticed some people can experience trauma, yet thrive, while others spiral into darkness? I have personally lived through this darkness. As a young child in foster care, I felt trapped and alone.

Imagine you are trapped in a tank of deep water. You tread water for a long time. You start getting tired. You aren’t sure how much longer you’ll be able to keep your head above water. You try to stay afloat, try to conserve energy and pray someone will come along and help you. Time ticks on. You are so tired. You sink below the surface, hold your breath for as long as you can. Nobody is coming to save you because nobody notices you need help. Desperately, you pull to the surace, gasp for air, sink back down again. You aren’t going to make it. You have lost all hope.[1]

Even though I felt all hope was lost, somehow I made it. I did not hopelessly drown. My younger brother is a different story though. He seems to be hopelessly trapped. So, how did I make it while he did not?

Be brave through traumas.

What exactly do we go through after a traumatic experience? Let’s answer this question by diving into the 5-Stages of Acceptance (otherwise known as the 5-Stages of Grief). There are different types of “acceptance or grief” models; however, we will focus on one in particular, a model introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross – the Kubler-Ross model. [2]

    Stage #1: Denial.

    The first stage is denial. People enter this first stage after shock from experiencing a traumatic event in their life. Events such as the death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, rape, being in a serious accident, or the traumatic exposure veterans experience during war.

    If you or a loved one have experienced a traumatic event, you are most likely in one of these five stages. In order to recover from your experience, it is important to be able to identify which stage you are in. Here are a few things to look for in this stage: [3]

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    • Clinging to a false sense of reality.
    • Your outlook on life becomes meaningless.
    • Your life makes no sense.

    Example

    I was placed into foster care as a young child. My younger brother and I were in a state of denial when we were placed into the foster care system. We believed our parents would change their behavior and become better parents for us.

    Why This Matters

    Denial helps us survive loss. It is a way for the universe, God, Buddha (whatever you believe) to tell us that we have reached our limits of what we can handle.

    Stage #2: Anger.

    The second stage is anger. Anger is where we possess the need to blame someone else for our problems. Here are a few characteristics of this stage: [4]

    • The need to blame someone else.
    • Your anger extends to everyone around you.
    • You feel abandoned.

    Example

    After being placed into foster care, I was extremely angry. I blamed everyone I could think of. I blamed my mother, my father, my social worker, my grandparents, and even God. What is funny (looking back now!), I remember cursing God one evening and woke up deathly sick the next morning… coincidence?

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    Why This Matters

    When we feel our anger, instead of suppressing it, we start to recover. Think of an open pit. You are stuck at the bottom of this pit with no way out. Once you feel your anger, it is as if a rope magically appears to pull you out of the pit.

    Stage #3: Bargaining.

    The third stage is bargaining. Bargaining is when you believe you can avoid the actual problem through negotiation. Let’s take a look at a few ways to identify this stage: [5]

    • You have self-doubt.
    • You are constantly using “what if” and “if only” statements.
    • You are stuck in the past.

    Example

    As a foster child, I remember telling my biological parents that I would do anything they wanted or be whoever they needed me to be if they would only stop their drinking and drug use.

    Why This Matters

    It is important to recognize when you reach this stage. In this stage, you are stuck in the past; however, it is fairly easy to recognize that you are in this stage simply by paying attention to your thoughts and words. You will find that you use quite a few… “what if” and “if only” type statements in this stage.

    Stage #4: Depression.

    The fourth stage is depression. Depression is a dark stage where you withdraw from everything. Depression is the most dangerous stage, so here are few things to look for:

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    • Withdraw from life.
    • An intense sadness.
    • Suicidal thoughts.

    Example

    I can vividly recall the sadness I experienced when I finally realized nothing could be done to save my parents. I had a horrible feeling that one day soon they would both die due to their lifestyle. Sadly, my father would commit suicide not too long after.

    Why This Matters

    This stage is important because grief enters your life at a deep level; a deeper level than anyone could ever imagine. It is important during this stage to understand that depression is an appropriate response to trauma. [6]

    Stage #5: Acceptance.

    The fifth and final stage is acceptance. Acceptance takes place when you accept the true reality as your permanent reality. You will know when you enter this final stage by the following characteristics:

    • You realize that you can’t remain stuck in the past.
    • You start to enjoy life again.
    • You make new connections.

    Example

    I finally hit this stage when I told myself that I could not change my family. I had to start preparing for a reality without the majority of my family in my life. I wasn’t happy about this, but I accepted it.

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    Why This Matters

    Accepting the true reality as your permanent reality is an important step in recovery. Typically, we don’t necessarily like it, but we accept it and learn to live with it. It is important to remember, we cannot start this stage until we have allowed an appropriate (determined by the individual) amount of time at each stage… essentially, we cannot rush into acceptance.

      You can’t control everything, but you’re always in control of something.

      Once we develop a growth mindset, we then find that we can become better. A growth mindset will put us on a path, not just to recovery, but a path allowing us to thrive. It will put us on a path to Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). Along the way, look for meaning or purpose in your life. When we discover meaning, we find that we have a greater purpose to live.

      Here are some ways you can develop a growth mindset:

      • Believe you can become better.
      • Attempt to learn as much as possible – knowing you can and will become smarter.
      • Read and listen to audiobooks.
      • Exercise and eat nutritional foods.
      • Embrace challenges – know that you can learn from them.
      • Embrace failure as opportunities to learn.
      • Embrace effort as a necessary step toward growth.
      • Eagerly learn from criticism.
      • View the success of others as an inspiration – learn from them.
      • Create synergy with others and stimulate growth in yourself and in others.
      • Additionally, really think about the following quote…

      “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” – Winston Churchill

      Remember, there is always the silver lining.

      When I personally developed a growth mindset, I soon discovered the meaning in my life. I didn’t have to look far to uncover it… in fact, it had been with me all along. My beautiful wife and my precious daughter are my purpose… they are the meaning in my life.

      You too can easily discover meaning in your life, accept the seemingly unacceptable realities of this world, and thrive. All you have to do is open your eyes!

      Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

      Reference

      More by this author

      Dr. Jamie Schwandt

      Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

      How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory 10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus and Creativity 9 Game Changing Tips on How to Write Goals (and Reach Them!)

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      Last Updated on February 20, 2019

      How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

      How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

      Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.

      Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.

      Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.

      Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.

      What is Effective Communication?

      Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.

      Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.

      It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.

      Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.

      Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.

      Are You a Poor Communicator?

      Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.

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      If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.

      • You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
      • Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
      • Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
      • Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
      • Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
      • Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
      • Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
      • Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.

      What Effective Communication Can Do For You

      Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.

      Work

      • Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
      • Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
      • Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
      • Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
      • Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
      • Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.

      Personal relationships

      • Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
      • Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
      • Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
      • Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
      • Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
      • Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?

      Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

      The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.

      Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.

      If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.

      On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.

      Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.

      How to Master Effective Communication Skills

      In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!

      1. Learn how to listen

      Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.

      Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.

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      2. Make eye contact

      Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.

      Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.

      3. Ask questions

      When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.

      Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.

      4. Watch body language

      Watch both yours and the other persons.

      We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.

      On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.

      Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.

      5. Speak confidently

      Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.

      It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.

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      These tips will help you speak more confidently.

      6. Keep it simple

      You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.

      That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.

      7. Know your audience

      You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.

      Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.

      8. Be empathetic and understanding

      There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.

      Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.

      Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.

      9. Pause before reacting

      There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.

      When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.

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      10. Over communicate

      You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.

      I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.

      Conclusion

      Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.

      At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.

      Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.

      At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.

      You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.

      Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.

      More Resources About Work Communication

      Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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