Michaela Haas on Turning Bad Breaks into Breakthroughs



Michaela. It is so great to have you on untangle today. Thank you so much for being here. Thanks for having me. I've been looking forward to this awesome so I loved your book bouncing forward. Yeah and the subtitle of the book is transforming bad. Breaks into breakthroughs and this just stirred up so much for me because so much of your work is about resilience and forgiveness and use the term post traumatic growth verses post traumatic stress for example. And I really WANNA help our our listeners. Understand why resilience is so important and why some of US fall apart while others of US thrive based on your stories exactly. That's really the question. That has intrigued me for a very very long time. And I as a journalist I meet a lot of people who've been through traumatic experiences and I always wondered why some people were able to deal with it better or heal from it. And even thrive while others fell apart so this question became deeply personal when I got severely ill in my twenties and I was actually bedridden for about eight months and it was pretty scary because the doctors didn't know what was wrong with me and if I would ever get better and I was Nodar Cillian and I did fall apart. So this really sparked the personal part of the journey to see well other people have been through things much worse than what I've experienced. So are there things I can learn to become more resilient? Are there things that I can use to nourish myself when I'm down and the book bouncing forward is really the result of this because I got to speak to? People Admire like Maya Angelou who actually gave the book it's titled. She talks about bouncing forward going. Beyond what the Naysayer said or people like temple grandin the autistic pioneer or a paralyzed surfer called Jesse Bill. Our and I asked them all the same questions. What helped you. How did you make it through? And in the course of this research I came across this amazing new science of Post Traumatic Growth. And of course everybody has heard of post traumatic stress but much to my surprise. I learned today is really a lot of information about how we cannot only heal from traumatic experiences and challenges but even use them to grow and so this is what really fascinates me and this is why I wrote bouncing forward to share this research with anybody who experiences challenges in life and who doesn't right. Doesn't I think you have a statistic in your book that eighty nine percent of US experience at least one traumatic event in our life and with post traumatic growth. Is there sort of a depth of experience or negative experience that you have that makes it almost impossible to come back or in your research? Have you found any differences between how bad experience actually is in how easy or hard it is to come back thing one of the things? I've most surprising is that it is not what happened to us. That determines how severe trauma is I've interviewed a chapter about. My friend Coco Schumann. Who WAS AN AUSCHWITZ? Maya Angelou was abused and raped as an eight year old. So I've come to understand that there is nothing that we cannot heal from now. Of course it doesn't mean that it doesn't leave scars and actually what determines if can heal from a trauma isn't so much what happens to us that how much support we get. How much incharge feel how much control they can take situation? How safe we feel how much we lost in very very much. Our mindset. 'cause. I'm I've been a practicing Buddhist for more than twenty years now and what actually got me into Buddhism was mine counters with Tibetan refugees in Asia. And they had traumatic life stories. They've often witnessed family members being killed or tortured or they've been in prison or they've been tortured and even when some psychologists were surprised to find that only one of nine hundred refugees they interviewed was diagnosed with Ptsd and all the others had found ways through that practice of compassion and meditation and Mindfulness to work through their pain and work through their suffering. And this is where I think the idea of post traumatic growth is so helpful because as soon as we can find any purpose in while we go through then we actually have a much much better chance of healing from it and this is something that no matter what our specific traumas children set. The fundamental question is not if we encounter suffering because we all do but how we work with suffering so that leads to awakening the hard in going beyond the habitual views and actions to perpetuate suffering. So this is really the core. A founding forward. Yeah it's a really. It's a complicated idea. I mean it seems simple on the one hand and complicated on the other because looking back at your story so your bedridden with an undetectable illness at the time for eight months. And you're struggling with that. Is it because you didn't have the tools yet to become more resilient or to accept this as an opportunity I mean? Is there any way to wall? Were inside the opportunity to look at the gift of that without getting too sort of Wu about that because these experiences are horrible. I met a few people who were able to do it on the spot but I think there are rare. Most people need at least a few years or several years too with some distance to look back and see it as a growing experience and I think one of the worst things you can say to somebody who's in the midst of it things like. Oh it's GonNa get better or who knows what it's good for people. Hey these phrases and that's really not what poster medic growth means and actually the only way we can grow as to allow struggle but one thing I can say that helped me and that I think helps anybody who's going through a tough time is mindfulness meditation. Because I think that we have no choice but to learn to stay present and running away as tempting as it is or drinking. The pain away or taking painkillers or whatever particular styles of avoiding it. It just never works. None of these methods works. So mindfulness meditation is now you so widely in the army and businesses in trauma therapy and I founded crucial now. I head already started meditating before I became ill but I had to realize that I was more like a good weather meditators. I use it to make myself feel good and I had to learn to go deeper with that and to stay present even when the going gets tough even when there is physical pain even when there is emotional pain to stay present and rushy Bernie glassman because also In bouncing forward is well if you think about it. We're always in the present moment anyway. We can't be anywhere else. It's just a matter of allowing ourselves to actually be there and be present with whatever happens. Of course it's a practice at work on for the rest of my life. Yeah I think we all will and I think a lot of people who have experienced trauma. Let's say yet in their lies. Don't really understand that. These practices that you cultivate pre trauma are going to be important for anything that you deal with in life. And how do you inspire people to really understand that these practices will be your if you will forgetting through things? Yes obviously you want to practice meditation or other. Resources full resilience. Ideally practice them when the sun is shining so that we have them at our disposal when the going gets tough and one of the things. I find most encouraging. Is that actually in the mindfulness tradition that I trained in we can use happiness and pain to transform ourselves to open a hard to become more compassionate rather than closing down to sharing was really going on. We don't have to wait for trauma to start but it's useful to prepare ourselves because most of us not only experienced one trauma in life but five to six actually and it's not just the war in Iraq that can be traumatic but a divorce can be traumatic and illness can be traumatic surgery. A car crash thinks that happened to pretty much all of us and I think if it was up to me resilience would be taught in schools. Mindfulness Meditation would be taught in schools because kids learn about it if they applied. They grow up so much stronger because resilience is like a muscle if we work at it. If we train in it then we become strong and we become more resilient and the earlier we start or if we have daily practice the more useful it will be to us when we do encounter a severe challenge or

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