Everyone deals with trauma and loss differently. Some mourn in solitude, some find comfort in close family, and others express their grief publicly on social networks. There's no "right" way to cope, but, according to Supersurvivors authors David Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz, one of those particular methods may boost your ability to overcome traumatic events.
"In the aftermath of trauma, one of the most powerful factors in people's resilience and growth is social support," Feldman tells #OWNSHOW. "But there's a twist here..."
He goes on to explain how simply posting about your feelings isn't enough to help you truly feel supported. "It's possible to be surrounded by loving people who want to help you and not perceive that you actually are [being helped]," Feldman continues. "The research is very clear: Unless you look around and really notice that social support is there and take advantage of it, you can't really benefit from the power that is the support of others."
In the midst of a loss, some people also question their faith, which both authors say offers another opportunity to reconnect socially. "One of the most important things about our religious community and our spirituality is the support," he says. "Other people can be important in helping us to rebuild that faith in whatever form we rebuild it in."
During their research for Supersurvivors, Feldman and Kravetz met a woman named Jane McGonigal, a gamer, whose experience illustrated the importance of social support. After suffering a concussion, Jane had trouble with her recovery and felt very alone in her trauma. She didn't want to leave her house, so in an attempt to connect with others, Jane created online gaming community that she ended up calling SuperBetter.
"It was this great idea where other people who had traumatic brain injuries or any other traumatic experiences, really, could come online and meet each other in a safe, somewhat anonymous way," Kravetz says. "They'd give each other challenges… like 'get out of bed today,' 'look out the window,' 'call your mom for five minutes.' You'd actually get points for those. It was this remarkable system that she created."
Jane's experience is an example of how truly connecting with others can rebuild your resilience. "It goes back to the social support -- the perceived social support -- that is so important," Kravetz says.
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