Everyone experiences forms of trauma in their lives, whether it’s as seemingly minor as an embarrassing situation at work or as massive as a false accusation. No matter what causes the trauma, when you hit rock bottom, it’s a necessary step that pushes you into survival mode. It’s at this point where you can take one of two paths: accept the situation and wave the white flag or use the trauma to propel you toward something more. What separates these groups are the six traits outlined in “Comeback.”
Survival Mode: The Ultimate Superpower
The scars of trauma create a permanent imprint. Like what happens to muscles during a weightlifting session, trauma tears us apart, forcing our mind to repair itself. Yet the mind doesn’t go back to the state it was in before. It pushes us into a new state where we can withstand a greater level of hardship. The wisdom gained through trauma was understood by the ancient Greeks and Buddhists, and it’s known as post-traumatic growth (PTG) to scientific researchers today.
Fuel of Champions
Trauma is different for everyone. What is traumatic to one person may be a cakewalk for another. Trauma can happen in one area of your life while other areas are going well. It can happen after a death, a job loss, or an injury, or it can be a slow burn that sneaks up on you without any obvious trigger. Regardless of the cause, the only thing that matters after trauma is that you use it to make a change.
People who overcome trauma learn to embrace desperation, one of the strongest motivators in the world—and the second step in the Six Steps. It is a survival instinct that forces us to do two things: take action and be creative. These two components together are the special sauce that allows desperation to pull us out of adversity.
Desperation Is Rocket Fuel
Most self-help books encourage readers to find inspiration and avoid desperation. Comeback isn’t that book. Desperation is a tool for survival that helps us do first, think later. It obliterates analysis paralysis, kills procrastination, and breeds creativity and action. This is the fuel that helps us get out of a dark place.
Let Desperation Be Your North Star
Desperation can prompt the action needed to move forward after trauma, but you don’t have to be in a desperate situation to create extreme change in your life. You can mind-hack yourself into being desperate at any time by convincing yourself you have to act NOW. The more you use these mental muscles, the stronger they’ll become, and the less you’ll get bogged down by procrastination.
Step 3: Get Your Mind Right
Overpowering Negative Energy
Negative thinking covers us like a cozy blanket in times of adversity, when it seems more comfortable to give up and accept that the best is over. But Step 3 asks us to get our mind right and adjust our mindset to positive. Things can be dark in the midst of trauma, but a positive mindset is like a flashlight that allows us to see the darkness for what it is and look at the amazing landscape surrounding us. Most importantly, mindsets—whether positive or negative—are contagious.
Positivity Versus a Right Mind
The more you practice seeing solutions when small challenges arise, the faster you’ll respond when the big one hits. How do you do this? By adopting a positive mindset and getting your mind right. Tools and strategies like avoiding negative conversations, practicing mindfulness, giving back to others, and simply deciding to take a positive approach can help you bounce back from any situation.
Positivity Builds a Better Future
If there is one suggestion you take from this book, it should be meditation. It is a life-changing tool that combines positivity with intention, allowing you to see the bigger picture for what it is and use that reinvigorated perspective to move forward with your goals. Intention and meditation are about harnessing positive energy and using it to push forward with action.
Step 4: Move
Action Generates a Reaction
To move forward, you have to move. That includes your body. This is the key to Step 4: if you can get your body moving, it will allow you to make mental and emotional leaps you never thought you were capable of. Physical activity is the juice that jumpstarts your mental transformation and the motion that will carry you out of rock bottom.
Moving Puts the Pieces Together
Although we think of our mental selves as being distinct from our physical bodies, our brain is not an isolated system. That’s why exercise is a key part of recovery after trauma. Exercise can act as an antidepressant, boost your mood, make you emotionally stronger, improve your relationships, and increase creativity. No matter what your exercise of choice is, physical activity always pays off.
Forward Motion Moves You Forward
Exercise isn’t about looking good, competing, or even being “in shape”—it’s about the awakening that occurs with physical movement. There is no need to buy fancy equipment, go to classes, or even join a gym. Movement can be as simple as walking up and down the stairs while brushing your teeth or doing a 5-minute stretching video on YouTube. All that matters is that you start moving forward, physically and mentally.
Step 5: Stack Bricks
Small Wins Total Up to Big Wins
The fifth trait of people who overcome adversity is the ability to stack bricks. Bricks are small wins—getting out of bed, walking for 10 minutes, making a phone call—that move you closer to where you want to be. Rather than focusing on running a marathon, focus on taking one step at a time. This technique will get you anywhere you want to go, no matter how impossible it seems.
The Progress Principle
Once you start making progress by stacking bricks, you enter the “progress loop”: an almost-addictive state of being where you feel motivated to keep moving forward. The perceived size of the progress doesn’t matter as much as the continuous movement. Every brick, no matter how small, is growth that should be rewarded and celebrated.
Focus on the Short View
Most self-help books ask you to aim high, keep your ultimate goal in mind, and challenge yourself. Comeback asks you to do the opposite. When trying to overcome trauma, the key is to keep your bricks simple and attainable, focusing only on what you can do in the next few minutes rather than what you want to accomplish a year from now. Don’t buy in to any self-judgment during this process—even the smallest steps are progress.
Step 6: Immersion
Believe to Begin
Those who thrive in severe adversity have one final trait in common: they immerse themselves in their forward progression and make every brick a contributor to their comeback. They accept that they are in a new life and there is no going back. Immerse yourself in the Six Steps and you will turn your life around.
Mortar for the Bricks
If you are going to immerse yourself in the Six Steps, you’ve got to remove anything that doesn’t contribute to the life you are constructing. This means changing your environment, your habits, and your self-talk to minimize potential traps that will cause inertia. Immersion is the technique used by athletes, musicians, and language learners to succeed, and it is the mortar that will hold your bricks together.
Get in, the Water’s Warm
Changing your story is the final step in immersion. If you tell yourself that you are a person who rebounds, that you are the type who scales Mount Everest for breakfast, that becomes your identity. Immerse yourself in the Six Steps. Get in the pool and swim. The water’s warm; you’re going to love it.