Yesterday Andy Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years and showed incredible tenacity and fortitude, especially during the final game of the match. He knows what it’s like to persevere through adversity. Seventeen years ago at the age of 8 he experienced a trauma when a gunman killed 16 children and one teacher at his elementary school in Scotland. About 15 percent of those who experience trauma develop post-traumatic stress disorder according to Dr. Paul Greene, professor of psychology at Iona College in New York, who specializes in trauma. For Andy Murray, victory at Wimbledon may have more significance and healing than we realize.
Resilience from childhood trauma can take many forms. In some cases, victims learn to compartmentalize the experience and their emotions and redirect their focus and energy into something more positive. This may have been Andy Murray’s response to his trauma. He developed a hyper-focus on tennis and established significant goals for his tennis career and life. This is called sublimation or compensation which are coping mechanisms which take energy from bad events and turn them into something positive. Having a mission can be a productive way to channel negative energy and help with the healing process.
How can we heal from our trauma and/or suffering and turn it into a positive? In Andy Murray’s case he had a plan, worked incredibly hard to reach his goals, persevered through difficult times, and never gave up. He lost last year at Wimbledon, but returned with greater determination, mental toughness, and confidence. Winning at Wimbledon is an incredible feat for anyone, but for Andy Murray it may represent victory over a trauma that lingered in his mind and provides others with hope for healing. Most of us can’t win at Wimbledon, but we can overcome trauma and adversity with smaller victories that are just as meaningful. Read next week’s blog to learn more about becoming victorious over trauma.