Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Those traumatic experiences in our lives are unchangeable, and they may affect us or keep affecting us in the future. Although we cannot undo the past, we can heal from them, and know that healing is still possible, says Sabeen Roshan.
WHAT PEOPLE THINK TRAUMA IS
Conventional understanding of trauma is that it is the emotional response to experiencing huge tsunami-like-crises in life: A car accident, death of a loved one, a natural disaster, any tragic event that has a huge emotional impact.
WHAT TRAUMA REALLY IS
It is actually the consistent micro-aggressions that cause a person to formulate his world views. It starts with how they were loved and nurtured. People get dysfunctional and unhappy based on what they experienced between the ages 0-7 years. This defines how they live out the rest of their lives.
The brains of infants surrounded by chaos & disorder at 0-2 months do not develop the synapses in the same way they are formed in the brains of those who have harmonious & peaceful environments, and because their needs at 0-2 months are not met adequately, they are more likely to grow up having behavioral, health & other problems.
It then becomes imperative that caregivers are very mindful of what they do around young children. They do not have the language to express, but they are like sponges, absorbing all the energies and frequencies around them because their filtering system is not developed at this stage.
Irrespective of when and how one suffers from traumatic experiences, there are some common signs and symptoms that indicate to unhealed trauma.
When we feel emotional trauma, we can become “numb”, and disconnected with the world. Trust in others is often lost. This is usually coupled with troubled memories, anxiety and erratic emotions. Some of the most common emotional responses include a sense of guilt and shame, grief and depression, a hit on self-image, views of the world tend to become distorted and cynical, avoidance of social settings and loved ones.
Left untreated, it can lead to serious long-term consequences such as self-destructive behavior, a sense of deep hopelessness and despair, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual problems, compulsive behavioral problems, loss of belief systems etc.
Some subtle signs that you may be suffering from unhealed trauma are:
- It’s difficult for you to accept good things. You feel suspicious and might even self-sabotage when something good happens because that feels familiar.
- You feel an incessant need to be in control. Staying in control keeps you from feeling vulnerable & helpless.
- You obsess about being “perfect”. Traumatic experiences can leave us feeling less-than. Striving for perfectionism is a way to prove to ourselves and others that we are worthy and “good enough”.
- Concentration and recall are a challenge for you. Trauma effects the brain and can make cognitive processes more challenging.
- You have difficulty trusting yourself and others. Trauma can stem from interpersonal issues like breakups, rejection, loss of people we care about. As a result, one can mistrust self and others, potentially leading to self-isolation and not seeking support when we need it.
Although complete healing can be a challenging and intense process (this off course varies from case to case), a combination of below given suggestions can propel a person towards recovery:
- Take ownership for your well-being:
Acknowledge that you are suffering from stressful experience(s) that are affecting your current reality and resolve to take charge by helping yourself. This is probably the single most important factor that will take you from 0 to 100 on your healing journey.
- Stay connected with people who really care:
It is scientifically proven that staying socially connected is one of the most crucial ways that help the brain stay healthy and happy. Though it can be difficult at times to maintain meaningful communication with even loved ones, a great support system that can help you maintain those neural pathways in your brain that are to do with human connection are a must. Trauma and self-imposed isolation are never a good combination.
- Seek professional help:
Not many people can go on a healing journey alone. Not to stay that it can not be done. However, it takes tremendous mental and emotional resilience to come out of trauma totally on your own. It is always advisable to seek out experts and trained professionals. Get help from someone you can trust and are comfortable with. Many different treatments are available ranging from psychotherapy, CBT and hypnotherapy which help with release of stress, body memories and suppressed emotions in a safe environment. Take your pick and go for it.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation:
Developing a daily reflective practice will accelerate your healing journey like nothing else. Meditating quietens the mind and relaxes the body. Done consistently, it brings peace and clarity along with wisdom and acceptance.
- Incorporate physical exercises in your daily routine:
Moving the body releases happy hormones and help us keep our energy in motion. Remember, energy that is stuck in the body will keep the trauma stuck in the body as well.
Lastly, NEVER suppress your feelings. DO NOT invalidate or discount your pain. Your feelings are the barometer of your existence. They are telling an important story and it is YOUR responsibility to sort that story out.