Five effective tools to get you back on your feet when disaster strikes




When you land on Dr. Laurie Nadel’s website, you’re told from the get-go that “Dr. Laurie is not the right practitioner for everyone.” A somewhat comforting sentence quickly follows: “If she is the right person for you at this time, your work together can make a huge difference.”

Indeed, Dr. Nadel, who specializes in acute stress and PTSD, employs an array of non-traditional tools to relieve emotional pain. For the past three decades, her work integrated mindful hypnotherapy, NLP, and teachings from her Buddhist teachers and indigenous healers.

She backs it all up with impressive academic credentials:

A Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, a second doctorate in clinical hypnotherapy, post-doctoral diplomas in clinical training in mind-body medicine and clinical homeopathy. She also spends a lot of time traveling and studying with indigenous healers.

And if someone gets trauma, it’s Nadel.

After losing her home to Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, she ran long-term support groups for survivors in Long Beach, NY. Before that, she directed a program for teenagers whose fathers were killed in the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.
Now, she’s put together an emergency ‘Go-Kit’ for those who’ve been through a tragic loss, trauma, or disaster in the form of a book called “The Five Gifts: Discovering Hope, Healing and Strength When Disaster Strikes.”

Nadel agreed to share some tools to get you back on your feet when disaster strikes:

Avoid isolation

Isolation after a traumatic event can cause us to spiral down into depression. Although it can be challenging, it is important to continue regular social activities and maintain contact with people whom you care about. While you may not want to bare your soul to everyone, spending time with others gives them a chance to be generous in showing their empathy. When it comes to the long haul, sustainable empathy is a powerful gift.

Reframe: “My calamity is my providence”

This proverb from the Bahai faith can accelerate our healing journey by reframing our perspective on a life-shattering event. It will make sense when, eventually, you can look back at that event and say that although you never wanted to go through that, you would never have become who you are now had it not happened. I like to think that thinking of our calamity as a gift offers us a lens through which we can gain a fresh perspective on what we have learned and how we have made it through the darkness to a new day.

Laugh once a day

Especially when nothing seems funny. Never underestimate the positive power of laughter, especially when your heart is breaking. My friend Pepi’s advice, “This life is not for the chickens,” always brings a smile.

When you have one of those days when nothing seems to be going right, try picturing your favorite comedian in your situation. After a series of construction disasters, the hose on my new washing machine broke, spraying water all over the house. I almost burst into tears. Then I visualized a “mind movie” starring Carol Burnett and Walter Matthau. It saved the day and years later, that “mind movie” always makes me laugh.

You are not the disaster

A friend who escaped the World Trade Center on 9/11, only to see her car swept out to sea by Hurricane Sandy, which also destroyed everything she owned, was applying for benefits when a government worker told her, “You are a double disaster.” That insensitive remark was devastating to her until we talked about what that meant. Be it an accident or a bona fide disaster, it is not your identity.

Maybe you survived, maybe you witnessed it, or perhaps you have been directly affected by losing someone you love. Those distinctions are key to staying balanced in the wake of a horrific event.

There is always another way

As we do our best to get through the legal and financial minefields following an accident or disaster, sometimes the road is blocked. Institutions that were supposed to protect you can turn treacherous by losing your documents multiple times or simply lying to you. There may not be a perfect solution but breaking through voicemail purgatory and emails not returned can mean finding a way to speak to a human being. Sometimes you can find another way by asking someone in a similar situation for help in the form of a contact person and a direct phone number. Ask for referrals to local lawyers who specialize in getting through impasses.


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