The Trap Of Trauma
Trauma happens when our mind cannot fully process what it is experiencing. It is easy to see why children are so easily traumatized. They lack the tools and contextual understanding to successfully make sense of and cope with what they are feeling and seeing. I have heard mental professionals say that children are resilient. They tell me that children bounce back from the hurt and fear inflicted on them in their youth. I disagree.
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Trauma can Begin Early On
That earlier statement implies that our youth come through unscathed. They bear no lifelong scars nor suffer through their adulthood because of their circumstances and happenings of their upbringing. Bullshit.
I see no proof of this in the people around me. I see addiction, depression, mental illness, anxiety and maladaptive acts every day. Sure, I know people who have picked up the pieces and put them together as best they can with their bungled understandings of how life works. The picture of their life they have created is so often disjointed and colored by the mistrust and loneliness they carry from their childhood. Scars and emotions stuck so that they cannot escape. They are living a life that is like abstract art.
Upon closer inspection, we can usually tell what they are trying to accomplish, but it is a strange and unhealthy adaptation of coping mechanism they have chosen to utilize. Their choices and decisions appear random and unthought of. We see how they are hurting themselves and cannot fathom why they would not just do something else. Our very feelings of separation from them then make it difficult to understand and empathize as they seem out of touch with reality. This continues to make them feel outcast and unacceptable.
Trauma as a Roadblock
Science has discovered that trauma often stunts the healthy and normal maturation of personality. We can become stuck in the coping behaviors of a child. The age of that child corresponds to the age we were when the trauma happened. This explains why we have adults reverting to child-like methods of getting through the stresses of their daily grind. Who has not witnessed a grown men who can turn into a tantrum-throwing toddler when he is upset, or women reduced to an immature drama queen when she feels powerless?
We, the observing audience are shocked and horrified at the seemingly bizarre display. Many times we may even feel angry and indignant that they dare behave this way. We might also be looking directly at a perfect reflection of ourselves when we are stressed and unable to cope but not recognize that at all. We become great deniers when we are not emotionally charged. The truth is that we are not so different as we would like to believe. Identifying and accepting our own brokenness is painful and sometimes mortifying. It takes fortitude and strong self-trust to be brave enough to stand face to face with your ugliest traits to heal the old wounds. Those parts we hide even from ourselves are called our shadow side and facing it is perhaps the most humbling experience anyone can undertake.
At that moment, you become brave enough to see yourself with complete honesty. The point is to give acceptance of whatever presents itself and then you can begin to heal it. This is the opportunity to elevate our essence and develop our highest conscious.
Dealing with Trauma
To begin this process, you can begin noticing when you are spending time and effort to act differently from how we authentically feel. Pay attention to your body and feelings and alert yourself to when you feel uncomfortable. These are the moments that can teach us where we have suppressed feelings of guilt and shame. Only by recognizing the disconnect between your truth and your actions can you begin to understand the needs that created your behaviors.
Our needs have changed as we have become adults. We do not need to meet the expectations of our parents or other adults anymore. We are free to build our own belief systems and be confident in the personal truth that we all have inside. When we integrate that understanding, we can let go of those maladaptive behaviors.
Concentrated attention on our most feared emotions allows the inner child the safe space and compassion to process. You can face as an adult what you could not handle as a child. These repressed feelings and emotions are what has held you back from being true to yourself. This unearthing of yourself can be achieved through mindful processing of trauma. The process is a stairway of opportunities that allows us the chance to re-parent or re-program ourselves. Who wouldn’t like the chance to be utterly authentic? Wouldn’t it be amazing to be confident in your values and begin to adopt the ideas and beliefs that support your most desired traits? You are free to recreate yourself as a now whole and mended being, and I would love to help guide you through the process that is my saving grace.
The Inner Healing Process
To begin this inner healing, make a list of people who you feel see you for who you really are and who support you fully. This is your backbone to do the work you need to do. If you do not have anyone in your life who fits into this category, it is time to clean out your friend’s list and go on a quest for people.
I have found that having a good relationship with a trusted therapist begins the process of finding healthier people. A good therapist is there to support you and help you where you are struggling. They are least likely to judge you as they can see that you are genuinely working to make changes in yourself. A gentle and honest therapist can be your very best advocate and supporter. Take time to find someone who you feel comfortable with and with whom you can have pleasant, friendly conversation.
For working on this at home, find a quiet space where you will be able to stay focused and relax. Gather your mind so that your entire attention is in the room. Do not let your thoughts wander to tasks and other outside things. Stay in your body and present. Do this by experiencing the place you are in thoroughly. Take as much time as you need to look, smell, feel and listen so that your senses are filled with this moment. Give yourself time to settle into this space and be wholly present. It is very helpful to me to use music in the background. Choose music that is meaningful and evokes feeling in you.
Take several long, full, smooth breaths and relax every muscle in your body. Scan your body from head to toe with gentle and accepting curiosity and pinpoint your attention on locations along the way. Check your forehead, jaw, shoulders, and legs for tension and systematically relax each part of your body. Let the relaxation further by imagining gravity like a warm heavy blanket making you heavier and bring your attention to where your body is supported by the floor.
You are safe and wholly supported by the universe right this minute. Allow yourself to continue to be in-tune with what is happening inside-give your attention to your breath. Consciously deepen your breathing so that you can physically feel your stomach expand as you take in air. Search for your heartbeat and take a moment to explore the lifeblood pumping through your body. Watch for changes and be acutely aware of any feelings within your physical body. Explore now any emotions that begin to come up. Examine them thoughtfully and in the privacy of your own existence be brave to look honestly at what arises. Especially when frustration and anger surface, take it further and see if you can identify their derivative.
We often use strong and “socially acceptable” emotions to hide our vulnerable ones. Let your mind browse with random freedom wherever it wants to go in your lifetime of memories and give full permission to experience whatever comes up. You are safe, and this is your world. There is no one to judge or condemn you. You can trust yourself. As you move through this process of feeling and identifying feel what needs to be experienced and then let it pass.
You may begin to find patterns of feeling from specific relationships. Look for repetitive emotional upsets. If you come upon strong feelings ask yourself “Does anyone match with others?” Can you systematically retrieve other times that you felt that same way? What is the connection? Experience the felt sense of the bodily feeling as the emotions flow through. Allow the full potential of the emotion and watch like an experiment its connection to the bodily feeling. This deep exploration provides the time to even name that emotion. Begin to see that the emotion is felt in the body and learn where you feel specific emotions.
With this awareness you are creating, you can become aware of patterns and connections and use these to navigate your reactions in the future. These connections between emotion, the sense of feeling in your body, and your actions/reactions are the road maps of your behavior. Maps that can be skillfully redirected and perfected to fit your the self you would like to present to the world authentically. This is a meditation practice. It can be an excavation of what does not serve you. It contains the power for you to free yourself. It gives you tools to see yourself more clearly and replace the masks you hide behind. You give yourself the information to be your authentic self. You are a bright, beautiful beacon of pure light in this world; as we all are.
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