Overcoming Emotional Trauma: Life Beyond Survival Mode

Motivational speaker Travis Lloyd’s Overcoming Emotional Trauma: Life Beyond Survival Mode is a fresh fusion of autobiography and practical advice for professionals and those who are experiencing or have experienced trauma.

Dealing with trauma is never an easy task, but Travis takes a topic that is normally excruciating to think or write about and makes it approachable. Oftentimes funny, always down-to-earth, and full of great insight, this book will be a comfort to those who are going through a tough time.

Download Overcoming Emotional Trauma
Download Overcoming Emotional Trauma

Overcoming Emotional Trauma follows a balanced format of each chapter beginning with Travis talking about his life and in the latter half of the chapter devoting itself to more general advice based on the issues raised in the earlier part of the chapter.

For example, when Travis focuses on how he was acting in “survival mode,” the end of that chapter suggests ways you can begin to get out of survival mode yourself.

The “Roadmap to Success” chapter later in the book, where Travis compares the timeline of his own life to Ryan, another individual who grew up in the foster care system, is where light bulbs will light up in your head if they haven’t already.

Seeing the vastly different experiences of two people at the same age with very similar childhoods emphasizes the point that everyone responds to trauma differently and that you always have the choice to change your life for the better.

Dr. Gregory Keck’s chapter about the “two screens” of perception in traumatized individuals is also particularly interesting, and it’s a surprisingly light read given the heavy subject matter. Travis shares his experiences with abuse, drugs, and high-risk behaviors, and he never seems self-pitying while always emphasizing the power of personal choice in making life changes.

Rather than listening to a dispassionate expert give you dry information on how to repair your damaged psyche, Travis makes you feel like you aren’t so alone in whatever it is you’re going through by sharing his own struggles. It is one thing to be told what to do to overcome trauma, it is quite another to feel like there is someone out there who “gets it,” who truly understands what you’re going through. Travis takes experiences that could seem maudlin and trite, but instead infuses them with a sense of humor and compassion.

As a motivational speaker, author, health care professional, and hip hop artist, Travis uses his multiple talents to reach youth in different mediums. Travis’ goal with this book is to help empower its readers to get out of survival mode and start to make changes in their own life.

Whether you are looking to overcome your own personal trauma or you are a professional looking to better serve yourself and your clients/patients, Overcoming Emotional Trauma has useful advice and is a just plain enjoyable read. For more about Travis Lloyd, visit his website http://travislloyd.net/.

Voluntourism – How to Find an Ethical Project?

“Voluntourism” is a portmanteau of “volunteer” and “tourism”, describing tourists that combine a trip abroad with volunteer work. The idea is often met with scepticism and has caused a lot of controversy. One reason for this is that researchers have found that some of the companies involved with voluntourism are misrepresenting their products, i.e. trying to make a profit out of volunteers that come to help. But with hundreds of opportunities offered by agencies, charities and grassroot projects, how does a potential volunteer know which organisations are ethically a good choice and which ones are unhelpful to the very communities they claim to help?

During my bachelor’s education, I considered volunteering abroad. However, I was overwhelmed and shocked by how difficult it seemed to find information on projects. Much of the international volunteer industry seemed ethically ambiguous to say the least. Most projects I found charged thousands of dollars which in the end discouraged me from joining any program at all. Nevertheless, there are many ethical options out there for everyone interested in volunteering, however finding them is tougher than it should be. It is the very nature of this dilemma that motivated me to join Team Social Work, a social enterprise dedicated to making the voluntourism market more transparent

Step One: Be realistic

Make sure you have realistic expectations about what to expect to experience on your trip and what you can accomplish

  • You came to help, keep that in mind throughout your stay. This does not just mean that first you have to think about the beneficiaries of your stay first and put the community needs ahead of yours, but also remember that your efforts are ultimately for the community you’re serving, despite the pivotal role you can play. Your ultimate goal should be to to assist them with their vision, whichEducationh ever part you may play in it.
  • Remember that change takes time. If you’re only going to be there for a short period, then the chances are that you won’t be there long enough to witness the impact your efforts will have on the community that you have elected to h
    elp. Nevertheless, consider the bigger picture to appreciate that your contribution has made a significant contribution and indeed a difference.
  • Last but not least – don’t underestimate the importance of a smile or other acts of kindness. They can have a bigger impact than you might realise.

Step Two: Choose a Good-Fit Type of Volunteering

A lot of volunteers have only a few weeks of their time to donate to a project and are worried that they can’t make a difference in such a short period. So how can you make short-term voluntourism worthwhile?

Short-term voluntourism isn’t necessarily bad. It really depends on the project that you want to volunteer for. As a general rule of thumb, you should always ask yourself whether or not your position at the project is effected by a personal relationship. E.g. within a conservation project, your duration of stay will have limited impact on the animals or biodiversity; often these projects need an extra hand, so it won’t make so much difference if you are only there for a short period. If you want to volunteer with a project that involves community development or working with children, carefully evaluate whether your short term stay will be useful to them or if you will do more harm than good. You might help to build a school in a few weeks, but you won’t become a counsellor for traumatised children. In any case, be sure that you are matched according to your skills.

Step Three: Ask the Right Questions

To ensure that you are joining an ethically sound volunteering project, the organisation should be able to provide you with answers to your questions. But what are the right questions to ask?

Before getting in touch with someone at the organisation, think about the following:

  • Many projects will provide you with a great vision of what they are trying to achieve, but only genuine projects will be able to provide you with details of how to get there. Ask whether or not there has been a needs assessment establishing exactly what help is required. Only projects that plan ahead will be able to make a lasting difference, so be sure to enquire about specific goals and why these are of importance in advance.
  • Take careful consideration over how the communities and projects are talked about by their relevant organisations. If they are degrading the locals they claim to be helping and belting their situation, then this should be sending you warning signs – taking advantage of their poverty to market the volunteering project in question is not respectful in the slightest.
  • Furthermore, every project should break down where the money you pay will go, and how the money from past volunteers has made a difference to the community they are working in. If they don’t, I recommend reconsidering your choice.

Get in touch with someone who has volunteered there beforehand: 

  • We live in the age of social media, so make sure you use it to your advantage. Sincere organisations should provide links to their social media sites. Use them to get in touch with former volunteers of the projects and ask them for their personal experience.
  • Make sure to ask what the exact nature of their volunteer work was, and what level of volunteer support they experienced. If the program description doesn’t match what former volunteers describe, you should be cautious and ask the project why this was the case.

Have you been on a volunteer holiday? Share your views and experiences in the comments below.

Self-Help Isn’t Always Helpful


Self-help products can be quite appealing, particularly to those who lack time and resources or are too embarrassed or proud to seek out professional help. Even those who have obtained professional help, many with a diagnosed mental illness, utilize self-help products as additional coping tools. The self-improvement industry has capitalized on this by turning it into an $11 billion industry according to Marketdata Enterprises, Inc. which has conducted the only business analysis of this industry.

As someone who once embraced this industry (both professionally and personally), I still recognize the potential value.  However, potential doesn’t always translate into success. There are several concerns I have regarding this market that are not always discussed particularly with consumers of these products.

The majority are female, and many of whom are drawn to these products not because they think they are already awesome and would simply like further growth, but because of insecurities and lack of self-acceptance that is more characteristic of females than males in our society. Whereas males are more often encouraged to be and accept themselves without apology, they are less likely to believe they need self-improvement.

Regardless of gender, anyone who seeks out self-help products due to a belief that they are fundamentally flawed will find themselves disappointed. They don’t recognize their innate belief of inadequacy and the self-help product may actually further reinforce this. This can lead to exploitation by the self-improvement industry, perhaps inadvertent yet still exploitative, capitalizing on individual’s insecurities rather than genuine concern for the betterment of humanity.

This exploitation is also present in the tacit message that if you simply follow this one self-help program to the T, it will fix everything and forever change your life for the better. Most don’t realize that there are as many ways of living a happy, loving, and fulfilling life as there are individuals in this world. These programs assert that their singular way of doing things will cure-all ills. That simply isn’t true. While this one person may have experienced complete transformation following a specific program it is important to realize that was their life path and everyone travels a different one.

Your life path could be similar but unlikely that it will be identical and far more likely that it will be quite different. Many of these programs set people up for failure due to their failure to address the infinite variations that exist in our universe.  So, you have all these people shelling out bucks, expecting a dramatic shift in their life, only to be disappointed because the program didn’t work for them which leads to my last concern.

In many of these programs, they are developed by individuals with little to no established expertise on their topic. This isn’t to say there aren’t innately knowledgeable and talented individuals who provide sage advice but there is always the potential for danger when an ignorant layperson provides information packaged as professional advice. They don’t always take into account every factor, such as environment or culture, instead focusing on the individual in a bubble (usually their bubble as stated earlier) that doesn’t exist. Often, there is also very little scientific research to back up their claims but they present the information as fact. Or they simply give extremely bad advice. For example the book, “To Train Up a Child” has been linked to multiple deaths, yet people continue to buy it and put its advice into practice.

With that being said, it is doubtful that most who contribute to the self-improvement industry do so with any malicious intent. At worst, they believe they have some amazing insight to share with the world and want to make a dime doing so. Can’t hate on that. At best, they have legitimately found something that has helped them and hope that others can benefit from it as they have. What it essentially comes down to is both the producer and the consumer must take some responsibility in critical thinking and becoming aware of themselves and others in order to see the self-help industry for what it is.

Some products contain some helpful advice and some not so helpful advice. It is the responsibility of the producers to remind consumers that this is not a one fit program and that it is the responsibility of the consumer to assess the limitations of the product and utilize only what is valid for them. When we’re living a life of awareness and reflection, we already have all of the self-help we need right where it should be, in our own self.

Four Tips To Building Self Esteem In Children

Parents want their child to have good self esteem. However, self-esteem doesn’t come naturally to children. It is something that must be fostered, developed, nurtured and grown. Following these four tips can help.

1.  Show them you value them
Let your children know you love them.  This is done through praise and through direct expressions of love, hugs, and kisses. Children need to be told directly by their parents or caregiver that they are loved. Children need to be held, cuddled, and played with. Quality and quantity of time demonstrate valuing. Few things speak more to being valued, then just being there.

2.  Teach them and let them learn
Competency is the next ingredient to healthy self esteem. As the child grows and begins exploring the house (often the kitchen cupboards) the child gains the opportunity to increase competency with access and control of larger objects over greater spaces.  Again the response of the parent is crucial.  Some parents structure the child’s environment for maximum exploration while other parents localize their child’s area of living.  Either way, making way for the child to play and explore safely, whatever the limits, is often referred to as “baby proofing”. The greater the control and mastery of skills a child develops the greater the sense of competency which is the second ingredient to healthy self esteem.

Parents can facilitate competency by providing safe areas for children to develop skills and by allowing their children to participate in household activities such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, making beds, etc.  The goal of these activities is for the child to develop a sense of control and not the perfectionist pursuit of the best made bed, etc. Participation should be fun, supportive or helpful.

3.  Participate in doing good deeds
The third thing parents can do to facilitate healthy self esteem in their children is to direct and participate with their children in the doing of good deeds.  Doing good deeds teaches children to be aware of the life of others beyond themselves.  This enables the development of empathy and altruistic behaviour.  What’s important is that children are encouraged or even positioned to be helpful to the extent of their ability.  The little one may carry a plastic cup to the table, the middle one a plate and a spoon, while the big one can clear.  Special little projects can be undertaken, visits can be made, and pennies can be put in the charity coin boxes at the check-out counter.

4.  Make the rules of life clear
The last thing parents can provide to facilitate self-esteem in their children is structure.  Structure is a word that actually implies two separate concepts: routines and limits.  Routines provide structure over time and limits provide structure over behaviour.

Another way to think of structure is like the rules of a game. How well could you play Monopoly, Hop Scotch, Tag, or Hide and Go Seek, if there weren’t rules?  Rules include who goes next, under which circumstances, and when.  The rules also include what happens when someone goes outside the normal bounds of play – miss a turn, pay a fine, etc.

Knowing the rules of the game of life is sometimes referred to as internalising structure.  This too is also a form of competency – when the child knows the how’s, what’s, when’s, and where’s, of life. Unfortunately this information doesn’t come automatically.  Children may pick some of the rules up incidentally as they go along, but this leaves much to chance.  Parents can help their children internalise structure by commenting on daily routines, specifying appropriate behaviour, providing feedback and by providing consequences for undesirable behaviour.

These four ingredients, valuing, competency, good deeds, and structure form the basic building blocks for the development of self esteem.  And why develop self-esteem in children? Children with a healthy self-esteem feel good about themselves, relate well to others, behave more appropriately and are more aware of the world around them.

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