Trauma can be surreal and comes in varying degrees. The average person should expect to experience at least one thing that leaves a permanent scar. Radical events can change a person’s perception of reality.

Surviving the tragedy is a journey within itself. Confusion, resentment, stress and hopelessness are a few emotions that plague the mind and body in the time afterward. The incident must be handled within a reasonable amount of time or you will leave the door open for it to resurface at another point in life. Post-traumatic stress disorder and repression are common ways that our psyche processes trauma.

Eventually defense mechanisms fail. When your feelings begin to have a direct impact on your life — it is time to address it. Here are some things to keep in mind when beginning your journey.

1. Be Honest About Your Feelings

Identifying exactly how you feel is the first step of the healing process. Whether you are angry, depressed or completely avoiding the situation; it is important to be able to feel it. Talking about these feelings is the easiest way to figure this out. Finding a trustworthy person to talk to is essential. This can include a professional or someone in your life that you know will listen without judging.

2. Accept What Happened

Denial is harmful. It is instinctual to want to protect ourselves from things that are traumatic. Letting your mind begin to process the events is progressive, no matter how painful. This is also the time to release yourself from any blame or shame you may feel.

3. Confrontation

Tread carefully with this step. Depending on the circumstances of your trauma this may not make sense for you. For some, closure means confronting the person or thing responsible for their pain. Be aware that this will open wounds for everyone involved. Some people may not be receptive to dealing with the issue. It is important to remember that people themselves can not provide closure for the event. Speaking your truth during the confrontation can provide closure, but do not put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation to get it.

4. Know That You Are Not Alone

It is easy to fall into the warped web of loneliness. Recovery isn’t easy and you will be met with disappointments. The important part here is, not giving someone the power to dictate how you feel. Deal with your trauma on your own terms. Their is someone, somewhere who can relate to your issues and has felt the same feelings you have. Do not isolate yourself. If you are unable to find closure or are still having trouble coping — seek help. These are precisely what support groups, counseling and other forums are for.

Keep working at it and take your time. Leave your heart and mind open to finding new avenues that work for you.

The end goal when dealing with any trauma is to find peace within. It requires a great deal of patience and being honest with yourself and others around you. Allowing yourself to fall into a pit of despair is human, but only for a certain amount of time. Get control. It is possible to move forward and to live a fruitful life.

When you are armed with the tools to combat these events, progress is undeniable. Trauma does not have to turn your life into a battlefield and it definitely does not have to define you.