When Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder defines your days and nights, it's easy to wish you were anyone but you. You made major sacrifices through your military service, waiting for the day when you could go back to the safety and comfort of civilian life. And now that you're back to the homeland you've been selflessly defending, it seems like you've gotten the raw end of the deal. You're suffering, so why isn't everyone else?
Thoughts like these are fertile ground for envy, a deadly sin characterized by deep-rooted resentment. The thinking goes something like this: there's someone who has something you don't, and because you don't have it, you don't want that person to have it, either. Although envy can sometimes motivate you to achieve what you desire in others, this vice becomes deadly when it prevents us from seeing that we've got some good things in our life, too.
PTSD is no walk in the park. It subjects as many as one-third of the Iraq and Afghanistan war Veterans seeking VA resources to painful flashbacks, bouts of anger and a frustrating inability to simply be happy and productive. When these problems persist, it's easy to covet people whose grass seems much greener and lives seem so uncomplicated. But this mindset doesn't solve any of our issues. When we let envy seep into our social interactions, it keeps us from connecting with our peers and ourselves, forming a roadblock to our healing. Instead of building our own place in the world, we fixate on someone else's to the point where it keeps us from embracing the positive things we do have. Envying someone else won't do a thing to change the pain and trauma your PTSD is causing you.
The good news is that there's a virtue floating around that can help us get back to embracing what we do have. It may seem idealistic to say that kindness can cure our envious streak, but you'll be surprised once you see how much difference a little old-fashioned compassion can make. By embracing others with empathy, friendship and trust, we can start building meaningful connections to our communities and the people in them. In other words, we can begin to flourish in a new post-war normal, engaging in our world so that we are thriving, not just surviving. Simple acts of kindness will help you see the good in your life and the good in the world, which is exactly the remedy you need to feel rooted in your new civilian life. With this strategy in mind, you'll be on your way to transforming Post-Traumatic Stress into Post-Traumatic Growth. Let kindness lead you to your authentic well-being.