Geshe Kelsang Gyatso said that "patience is a mind that is able to accept, fully and happily, whatever occurs." And Shantideva stated, "If something can be remedied why be unhappy about it? And if there is no remedy for it, there is still no point in being unhappy." When people have undergone significant distress and trauma in their lives, it often burdens their minds and leads them to states of anxiety, depression, and despair. In my therapeutic work, I have found it of importance to first explore the roots of the trauma, for in this we often see how the person through various triggers in the present or worries of the future shift back to an earlier frame of mind, to the very point of where the initial trauma occurred. Often persons are feeling they are under various forms of control and they strive mostly in vain in break free. I say in vain, because many seek to complete this journey alone or they lack the resources to which to break free. Their minds become unhappy. But we must come to an understanding that whereas we cannot control adverse events from happening, we do have the choice in how we wish to react. I often encourage persons to share their experience of trauma, to honor and respect their experience, but beyond this to encourage that they use their story for their empowerment and for developing feelings of compassion for others who are also suffering in this world rather than developing self destructive concepts. We must look inwardly rather than projecting outwardly. Often persons who are victims of trauma will become focused on retaliation and revenge. This is never useful or productive. If we plant broccoli seeds we cannot expect grapefruits to grow. So likewise, if we ourselves also put out the negative seeds of revenge and hate, we cannot expect something good to arise. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso remarked that "when someone harms us, we should not only think, he's hurting just because he is deluded but also he's hurting himself." If we are to be angry, we should focus such on our delusions, which we all possess, our misdirected ways of thought that lead us to unhappiness. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso continues that 'we can use our pain to understand the pain of all living beings." This is where we become empowered, and we can take our experience from being one which leads to intrusive thoughts and is destructive to something that will generate the positive seeds of compassion and happiness in our own minds. Shantideva stated that if we sought the happiness of all living beings that no doubt we would be happy.
Dr. Dan L. Edmunds is a noted existential psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, social activist, Professor of Existential Psychology and Founder of the International Center for Humane Psychiatry, an emancipatory movement for human rights in the mental health system and a research center of European-American University.
His website can be found at http://humanepsychiatry.com and his blogsite is at http://danledmunds.blogspot.com