“We are all confronted with suffering: Grief, loss, fear, failure, loneliness. But it’s up to us whether we lose heart in the face of trauma and problems or try to see each moment as a gift of life.” Edith Eger, “The Gift”
Edith Eger is a renowned psychologist, world-renowned speaker and author. Above all, however, she is a fascinating example of how one can positively shape one’s life in a self-determined way despite the most terrible traumatic experiences. Her story is that of a 16-year-old girl who had to dance for one of the most cruel Nazis in Auschwitz, saw her mother go into the gas chamber, and was rescued half-dead from a pile of corpses by the Allies at the end of the war. Today she helps people around the globe deal with their traumas.
“Suffering is universal. Victimhood is optional.”
In her approaches, Eger assumes that anyone can become a victim. One cannot influence what happens to one, in her case the deportation to Auschwitz, in the case of her patients, the loss of partners, violent crimes, neglect, illness, wars or other individually traumatic experiences. Nevertheless, she is convinced that everyone can decide how to deal with their experiences.
Her big plea is to get out of victimhood and into the rest of one´s life.
Remaining in the role of the victim is tantamount to what she calls “rigor mortis of the spirit. It means that in the role of the victim, one is always stuck in the past, cannot make any progress, and cannot draw any insights from what one has experienced.
Victims ask “Why me?”, Edith Eger mentally asks back “Why not you?”.
There is no point in thinking about why you have to have the experiences you do. It is a misconception that we will feel better if we get to the bottom of the traumatic experiences. Also, there is hardly any redemption just because we can determine a culprit.
We can experience healing, fulfillment, and freedom only when we learn to be able to make sense of our suffering and derive purpose from it.
Therefore, the question must not be “Why me?” but “What now? ”
Because with the “What Now” we start to deal with ourselves and what we can do with our experiences.
It’s about accepting your fate and finding the best way to live with it. Every crisis offers the chance to sort ourselves anew and to decide what we want for our life.