In a previous blog from my website, we focused on the importance of setting an Objective. An Objective, as you may recall, is a Principle of War that states we should “direct every military operation toward a clearly definable, attainable, and decisive objective." Setting an Objective in our civilian lives allows us to focus on the end-state, it creates personal ownership of what we seek to accomplish, and even allows us to begin to understand how we might break a large project down into smaller, more manageable tasks. From a logistical standpoint, it guides us in task organization and the collection of essential supplies we will need to accomplish the mission. This holds true for all of us, not just our uniformed warriors. An Objective gives us a positive direction, it redirects us when we get off track, and it gives us a source of inspiration to draw on when we become fatigued or begin to doubt ourselves.
My experience with PTSD has taught me many times there exists an unhealthy level of retribution or revenge that motivates us as we fight this post-combat demon. It is this anger focus that I would like to zero in on in this blog segment, specifically to point out how detrimental it can be in our journey to heal ourselves. So let me get this out up front; when seeking to heal PTSD you must do a proper mission analysis. This will ensure you have both a clearly defined Objective and that your chosen logistics are conducive for mission accomplishment. Here’s a little more detail from a warrior’s perspective.
Your Mission, should you decide to accept it…
As a Small Group Instructor at the U.S. Army’s Infantry Officer’s Advanced Course, I was charged with instructing senior lieutenants and newly-promoted captains on the Commander’s Estimate of The Situation. The Estimate was the heart and soul of successfully planning, preparing, and conducting all combat operations. It is an eclectic mix of time management, resource allocation, and intelligence preparation of the battlefield (which takes into account the weather, terrain, and disposition of enemy forces) you would face during training exercises and combat. All of these were important elements that would ultimately be issued through operations orders to the forces that would be involved in the battle. As stated earlier, they were all important; but none of the elements of the entire process were as important as the first step; a detailed mission analysis.
We all probably recognize the "5 W’s" as being part of a mission statement, namely who, what, where, when, and why. More importantly, the Estimate taught leaders that this mission statement must have 2 clearly understandable components: a Task and a Purpose. The TASK is essentially the “what you should do” during the mission and the PURPOSE is the “why it must be accomplished.” By ensuring these 2 elements were deeply studied, upon the issuance of these orders, subordinate commanders were given the flexibility to adapt to the changes that would come (and we know that the enemy never fights us like we plan) on the battlefield to modify the task, but to still achieve the purpose. If you got the Mission Analysis right from the start, you greatly enhanced your ability to plan, prepare, and execute your operation with a higher degree of success. When it comes to PTSD, you have got to get your Mission Analysis correct, or you will reduce or even sabotage your efforts to defeat it. Not only will your Objective be flawed, but the logistics you gather can prevent you from succeeding.
Beans, Bullets, and Fuel
An essential function in all warriors planning is the gathering of logistics. The mission will determine, the type of ammunition, the amount and type of fuel that will be required, and of course, how much food will be carried to sustain our combat elements. Making the proper selection of these life-sustaining elements will ensure mission accomplishment and enhance the safety and protection of our forces. It is essential then, in our missions to heal post-traumatic stress disorder, that we create the optimum task and purpose so our logistics don’t poison us. In other words, if there is a hope or intention of revenge, retribution, or self-satisfaction at someone else’s expense, then you are probably dooming your chances of healing yourself. Simply put, if your Objective includes an element of revenge or payback, you will have to continuously draw on the source of trauma to fuel you toward an Objective that you will never reach.
Michele Rosenthal at Heal My PTSD said it best in a recent blog post, when she defined forgiveness this way, “Forgiveness does not even come close to condoning or accepting horrific acts that have been done. Instead, it is forgiving the perpetrators of our traumas for their own faulty wiring. It is recognizing that the people who have so wronged us have something so wrong with them, and because of this they have acted monstrously. This is all forgiveness requires: recognizing that in some way our abusers are broken and forgiving them for being in that state.” By having a large supply of this type of forgiveness in our logistical reserve, we can draw on its amazing power to create the environment for love to grow in our lives, which in my opinion is the true purpose to ridding our lives of PTSD. So when conducting a detailed Mission Analysis before doing battle with PTSD, focus on your Task, Purpose, and the logistics that will assist you in this undertaking.
There are many Tasks that you can undertake in your daily battle with PTSD. I coach with an evidence-based methodology called Subconscious Restructuring® that is backed by 25 years of proof that this process works when dealing with emotional states that affect our behavior. You may currently be using another methodology, so I am not here to argue “WHAT” you are doing to overcome your trauma. What I am proposing is to re-examine the PURPOSE of your mission. My take on this stands simply that your purpose should be to create more LOVE in your life. Love cannot grow in the presence of anger, fear, and guilt. Love helps to connect us to those that support us. Love will also allow you to share your experiences and successes with others affected by this crippling disorder. Finally, when launching an operation to rid yourself of re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoidance and emotional numbing, and symptoms of increased arousal, your basic load of emotional supplies absolutely must include a large measure of forgiveness. Not only will it continue moving you toward your Objective, but Love will flourish in its presence.
Do you need an example of how Love and Forgiveness are intertwined, then take comfort in the words of one of the world’s greatest warriors that said it best; even in the hands of his tormentors when he said, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”