Finding Peace After an Auto Accident
By Jim Ballidis
An automobile accident can be traumatic and frustrating. You may be the victim of a drunk or inattentive driver. That driver walks away from the collision unharmed while you suffer the consequences for months or even years afterward.
How can you regain peace while you’re recovering from an accident?
Just as you should after any traumatic event, it is important to first see yourself as something other than a victim. When we feel like victims of circumstance, we want the wrong to be acknowledged or reversed if possible. While it may seem therapeutic, mulling over this is unrewarding and leaves us feeling empty.
Helplessness is often caused by a lack of control. When we control our circumstances, we feel better. Just consider the cause of the accident: usually, it was beyond your control, and that is one of the reasons why you feel frustrated. Regaining control over the things that you do have control over can restore your sense of calm.
One other way we can help ourselves is to disassociate the emotion of the event from the event itself. You can use a number of techniques, but one that works really well is to create a movie clip of the accident with you as the central character.
First, picture yourself watching a movie clip. Make sure you feel the emotion associated with the accident, but remember you are “watching a movie.” Continue to run the clip over and over, at a faster pace, and when your emotions are running at their highest, pause the movie and move from the theatre seat to the imaginary balcony. Run the clip again, then move to the projector room. Run the movie several more times. Then dim the projector image, watch the clip again, and continue to dim the light, watching the clip fade. Run the clip one last time. Suddenly, in the middle, shut off the projector.
Now, think of something good that came from the accident: a nice stranger, doctor, or loved one who showed you great kindness or support. Gratitude that you still have your life. Associate the accident with that thought.
Assess your feelings. You have told your unconscious mind that this event should not be associated with negative emotions. Any time you sense anxiety rising, do the exercise again. Soon, you will start to feel like your old self again.
While it is not guaranteed that all people will benefit from this option, I’ve seen many people get great relief. I hope it is true for you!
Jim is an author, personal injury attorney, and trial specialist in Orange County, California. He has been nominated and voted trial lawyer of the year, ethics lawyer of the year, and Super Lawyer for many years of his 35-year career. He also devotes time to advocating for change in Sacramento on committees, for the adoption of new laws to make the practice of law more effective for injury victims
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