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  • Writer's pictureKim Colman


We are often so quick to compare or judge another person when they tell their story or feelings.

We must never forget that we are all unique and we cope with stress and trauma in different ways based on our personalities, background and what we have learnt in the past.

One must also remember, that in a very traumatic situation, the body automatically releases hormones and chemicals from the brain to keep the body safe. These hormones can put the body into a freeze/flight/fight mode. We don’t know how we will react in these circumstances.

When you have experienced a traumatic incident or very stressful period in your life, there will always be some people who will say…” Why didn’t you do this?” or, “You should have done that”.

They are giving their opinion of the situation in a rational way, but in that moment, nothing was rational to you. It is easy for others to offer an opinion, but they were not in your situation, nor are they experiencing your stress now.

In my personal experience with trauma, I took these “should have” comments very personally, and was very hurt by them. They made me feel guilty that I was a victim of the crime, and that if I had done things different, the outcome could have been different.

I now realise that this was not said out of malice, but this was just them trying to offer me their resolutions to my incident. The problem here, is that the experience was mine, the reactions were mine…and NOT theirs.

Here are some suggestions as to how we can support someone in a caring way:-

➤ To show empathy to their traumatic or stressful event.

➤ To respect their feelings and experiences.

➤ To listen and never judge their actions.

➤ To understand that they did their best possible in the current circumstances.

➤ To offer support where the person needs it most.

➤ To listen to understand, rather than to listen to respond.

The take away from this, is to remember that everyone is unique and their reactions, responses and healing is all different, and it is their path. We need to be mindful of this and just offer support when and where they ask for it.

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