24 Jan Trauma Comes in Many Shades
Most of us think about Trauma as something very specific and intense in nature such as violence of any kind, rape, accidents, war, natural disasters, etc. However, there are other experiences that might be overlooked because they don’t fit in the above categories, yet, can also cause a great deal of internal stress and devastating effects. Trauma affects our neurobiology by getting us stuck in “threat response mode” (i.e fight, flight, freeze) and impairing our ability to self-regulate, interact with others, navigate the uncertainty of the future, and even trust in ourselves.
Trauma is a complex and extensive subject that has prompted many authors to conduct research and write numerous and often voluminous books. Therefore, I cannot pretend to tell you everything about trauma in this blog. Rather, I just want you to consider this topic with more openness and curiosity in your mind.
Human beings are exposed to múltiple interactions, people, situations throughout our lives and experiences that may not seem traumatic and may even pass unseen, yet they can affect our cognitive and emotional life in very similar ways to a classical traumatic event. Here is where developmental trauma becomes another aspect to consider when we are struggling with our emotions and relationships with ourselves and others. Developmental trauma occurs when experiences such as being the recipient of demeaning and overcritical comments; being emotionally neglected, unacknowledged, overprotected; feeling like one does not belong; dealing with unappropriate or contradictory emotional States from caregivers; being extremely restricted in our desire to explore the world or, on the contrary, not having any boundaries, occur repeatedly without any action to repair by the damaging party causing us to create maladaptive or false beliefs about ourselves in our present, daily life such as not being good enough, not being safe, feeling responsible for what we are not, having no control over our lives, etc.
One of the most recognized authorities in the field of trauma, Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, a psychiatrist, explains that “trauma is specifically an event that overwhelms the central nervous system, altering the way we process and recall memories. Trauma is not the story of something that happened back then,” he adds. “It’s the current imprint of thatpain, horror, and fearliving inside people.” Imagine what can happen if múltiple “events” of daily life are continuously triggering our nervous system like it happens in Developmental Trauma.
Dr. Van Der Kolk’s perspective allows us to understand that we might live experiences that don’t seem too harmful but can still be so overwhelming for our inner system and create an impact in the way we relate to ourselves and to the world outside. It is as if the child or younger versión of us is the one that endures those experiences back in time; it is present behind our adult persona. This means that without real consciousness about it, part of us is stuck in the past and often gets hijacked by the neurobiological aspects that regúlate our emotional responses.
Working with trauma is a very delicate and unique process for each individual. It requires you to look beyond the difficult experiences lived and become more and more aware about the attachment styles we experienced and incorporated in our repertoire. It requires willingness to see the shadows that might exist in our inner landscape, the different aspects, persona or parts we, unconsciously, create as protectors or defenses against those things that our mind and soul cannot understand or intégrate due to how dissonant or contradictory they are.
Healing from trauma, neglect, and many other emotional wounds is possible. It is not comfortable, it can be challenging yet it is so liberating and pushes us to reach for one essential ingredient for the process: kindness and understanding to ourselves (self-compassion).
There is no doubt that many human beings have lived incredibly unacceptable and unfair experiences. However, it is important to allow ourselves to let go of the past and daré to reconnect with our born quality of enoughness, to deconstruct those mental programs that do not serve us and limit us and rebuild our inner world in our own terms teaming up with the adult we can be. Let’s not give up our inner power any longer.
Look for support to navigate the healing journey and to expand and upgrade your perspective releasing the pain of the past and embracing the scars that can represent what has been learned, overcomed, and released.