Monday, August 24, 2009

Honesty and Recovery

I was reading on PTSD when it hit me that there is a concept where grief recovery, twelve-step programs and a number of other things converge. That concept is honesty.

The best place to begin with honesty is when you are wrong, promptly admit it. When you have failed to get something done, do not hide, instead acknowledge it. I try to train staff who work for me to do this (it is extremely rare for any mistake they could make to do more than be an inconvenience -- if they tell me so I can fix it). When someone else fails, look for solutions, don't waste time on blaming or anger.

Part of this is letting others express their anger without cutting them off or making excuses. You can explain later, much later, and always in the context of "I mess up by ... and this is how I will avoid it in the future." If the excuse is really good, you won't need to make it (e.g. I missed a hearing because I was rear ended and my care caught on fire. When my office called the Court ten minutes before the hearing was to start and said "Mr. Marsh will be delayed, his car is on fire" no one neeced an explanation or excuse later.).

Avoid legalisms or strained constructions. "Sure I practiced piano today [in my mined, while I was asleep]" is not honest, truthful, persuasive or useful. Looking for someone to blame is even worse than not useful.

As a place to start recovery, honesty is essential. You will have real trouble finding truth if you are not honest. The truth is that recovery can come. The honest truth is that it takes honesty for recovery to happen in a real sense.


Michele said...

"The truth is that recovery will come."

You're my new hero! Thank you for writing this. All too often people are quick to say, "I can't do it," "It won't happen for me," etc. Or, even worse: "You can't recover from PTSD. You'll have to learn to live with it."

I'm a trauma survivor. After over 25 years of PTSD I have overcome it. And you're right -- it took a lot of honesty, both on my own part and those of the people who helped me.

Honesty is difficult, especially when we've learned to cope by installing (often erroneous) beliefs just to get by.

PTSD is like a mask behind which our real selves hide in the wake of trauma. The honest truth: we are so afraid, we need to feel safe again and yet we don't trust that we can. Honesty with ourselves and those around us can be the beginning of healing in this most basic sense of rediscovery of who we are and can be outside the realm of trauma.

Stephen said...

Interesting, I got a lot more comments about this post on Facebook than I did on blogger where the post was uploaded.

And Michelle, thank you very much for your post.