Holding on to HAPPY

Kate Pieper talks about her model of Holding on to Happy to combat trauma and build resilience.

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Resilience is one of those words that gets shared in our community.  But, what does it mean to be resilient, and how do we get there?  Resilience isn’t about “bouncing back” but arriving at the understanding that your life has shifted or changed because of what has occurred.  Resilience is about making meaning from what we have experienced.  In this episode of the Code4Couples®podcast, Kate Pieper, LMFT, talks about how she took her personal experiences and professional expertise to create a resilience model she calls Holding On to HAPPY.

Holding onto HAPPY

At times, the impact of the career on first responders and their families can feel like you can’t get a break and are hanging or holding onto happiness. Every day, first responders handle different calls not knowing what they’re dealing with before arrival. Their brains are trained to look out for danger to keep them safe and there is an expectation that their brain will figure out how to deal with their experiences. However, when you’re inundated with negativity, you need to have a counterbalance and find resilience if you are going to recover. Incorporate techniques into your everyday routine and floss your brain of the trauma. The same way you floss and clean your teeth is the same mindset a first responder needs to use when building resiliency.

To combat trauma and build resilience, Kate has developed her own model called Holding on to HAPPY.

Habits

Setting up positive habits will help to insulate you when dealing with trauma, build resiliency, and create happiness. These positive habits build your psychological safety.  In past podcasts, we have discussed rituals in your relationship that can be positive habits toward resilience.  Personal habits can involve sleep, meditation, gratitude, play, or getting lost in an activity. Whatever you choose, it is essential that positive habits are practiced daily.  It is the daily practice that creates a resilient identity which will help you to see the world less negatively. Exercise your brain regularly and every day and look out for something positive that has happened.  Change the filter.  You are wired to look for the negative and as a law enforcement professional, this is further emphasized in your training.  Yes, it keeps you safe.  It can also be harmful to your help.  Start to move the thoughts around and create a habit of finding the positive.

Attitude

Having a positive attitude to overcome trauma and develop a growth mindset.  This isn’t about putting glitter on poop.  It is about changing the perception, having hope, and believing that you will persevere.

Kate Pieper talks about her model of Holding on to Happy to combat trauma and build resilience.

Perspective

Set goals within your sphere of influence.  Know what you can control and value yourself. Another part of perspective is looking at the gain versus the gap. As humans, specifically first responders, we tend to look at the gap or the negative instead of the gain or positive perspective surrounding a situation. Try to train and rewire your brain to look at the gain versus the gap.

Permission

Give yourself permission to be human. In the law enforcement community, it is important to give yourself permission to grieve and to feel the sadness that comes with some of the calls. Give yourself permission to set boundaries surrounding your wants and needs and permission to be okay with being imperfect.  If you struggle with this, consider actually writing yourself a permission slip!

WhY

A key piece of resilience is finding your WHY.  Socrates stated, “Any man that has a WHY can endure the WHAT.”  When you identify your why, you will be motivated to persevere and become more resilient.  Identify your values and what your roles are in order of importance. “What are the roles that have been given to you that are the most important that when you retire, those roles will be thankful that you had your priorities straight?”

Holding on to HAPPY can be used individually, as a couple, or as a family when you start to feel like you are losing your grip on life. Going through trauma and having post-traumatic stress is not a lifetime sentence. There are multiple ways to overcome trauma and build resiliency to live life with happiness and joy.

Kate stated, “I  want to inspire wives of first responders, and I want to inspire first responders that if we know our why and we practice the habits, we can actually live a life that has some joy in it and some happiness in it.”

Kate Pieper is an LMFT who specializes in working with First Responders and trauma. She is CISM and EMDR certified.  She dedicates her time to working with law enforcement agencies such as the California Highway Patrol, teaching resilience, conducting therapy, and volunteering to help them recover from trauma.

Kate@katepieperlmft  

The Staff Assistant Podcast: Episode 45: Kate Pieper, LMFT on Apple Podcasts

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Holding on to HAPPY

Kate Pieper talks about her model of Holding on to Happy to combat trauma and build resilience.

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