Tuesday

When You Keep Doing "That Thing" That Ruins Everything

First off, what is trauma? The word might conjure images of busy emergency rooms, prime time dramas, or a devastating and dramatic accident. And yes, "trauma" might fit all of these scenarios. But for the purposes of this posting, trauma shall be defined as:

" An emotional wound leading to psychological injury"

... because I said so. And also, Wiktionary says so. Who can argue with a source so authoritative?

Okay, all joking aside- let's get back to the point: While emotional wounds happen to everyone in life, not all emotional wounds are traumatic. The difference: Does the wound lead to a deeper injury that lasts long after the traumatic experience is over?

For some, childhood is fraught with traumatic experiences. For others, they had a relatively happy and safe childhood that was disrupted by one particularly traumatic experience. Trauma is really in the eye of the sufferer... but a few examples might include: loss, death, divorce, abuse, neglect, bullying, serious illness, a parent who's an addict, a parent with mental illness....

Why do I bring this up? I'm glad you asked! I bring it up because it is my personal (and professional) belief that untreated childhood trauma gets in the way of you living your best life! The ways trauma can affect us are truly countless. To name a few: addiction, eating disorders (including overeating), unhealthy relationship patterns, self-sabotage, difficulty attaching to others, struggles in your own parenting, anxiety, depression.... The list could go on and on.

Why do some experiences shape us to our core, while others seem to roll off our backs? If I knew the answer to that, I'm certain I'd be rich! :) We don't know why particular experiences are traumatic (causing long-term suffering) and others aren't. In my professional experience, there are specific characteristics of experiences that become traumatic later. Some of those characteristics include:
  • involvement of a loved one,
  • involvement of someone who was supposed to be trustworthy or protect you,
  • an experience that caused you to change or question your concept of self,
  • an experience that made you feel unsafe or afraid.
  • an experience that dramatically or abruptly changed your family or your place in it
I'm going to be real with you: we all have key patterns and behaviors that we dislike about ourselves. Whether for habit or for comfort, they just seem to stick around. I'm not talking about those. I'm referring to pervasive patterns of behavior that get in the way of your relationships or personal goals. The ones that cause suffering in your life. Those are often caused by untreated trauma.

Let me put it to you another way. If you suffer from anxiety (for example), well you didn't come out of the womb anxious! Something occurred between birth and now that influenced your level of anxiety. And once you can understand that "something" you can begin to pinpoint it's effects on your life. You can begin to weed out the past that is influencing your today. Only when you can see the problem clearly can you begin to change it.

Wishing you true freedom from your trauma,

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. Please note that this (being the internet) is not a confidential or secure way to contact me. If you wish to speak with me privately, please call me at 916-270-7413 or visit my site www.CounselingInRoseville.com