Photo Credit: Lisa Weber. Moonlight over Atauro, East Timor
Most people have experienced trauma throughout their lives. Each of us seem to deal with it in different ways. Some of us repress it, some let it become who they are and see life from the role of victim and never move on, while others breeze through seemingly unaffected. How do you manage traumatic situations?
One thing is for certain, to truly heal you must face the trauma you have experienced and be able to release the emotion surrounding it.
Trauma can come in many forms including events in childhood, abuse, physical injury, natural disaster, divorce, loss of employment, bullying, death of a loved one, to name but a few. Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extremely stressful events that leave you feeling unsafe and helpless. But really, any event in which you felt like a victim or that you had no control over can be seen as a form of trauma. Bear in mind that what constitutes trauma for one individual may not be the same for someone else. Trauma is personal to you; everyone reacts differently.
Trauma can have a dramatic effect on our bodies and our minds. When you first experience trauma, your body will go into stress response. This response involves physiological responses including increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, increased cortisol (stress hormone) in the body - essentially, you go into fight/flight/freeze response. The effects of trauma can also cause intense emotions and emotional upheaval, unhappiness, anxiety, overwhelm, loneliness, anger, and irritability. Over time, the effects can even become physical such as insomnia, nightmares, muscle tension, agitation, fatigue, trouble with concentration and rapid heartbeat.
Over time these responses can become chronic and adversely affect your health and mental well-being, Because trauma changes the way in which people perceive the world and in how they process information and emotions, especially when it comes to feeling safe. People who have experienced trauma often find it hard to trust others, and to trust themselves. This lack of safety leads people to disconnect from yourself and from others and even from the world itself. This makes people feel isolated and alone and in extreme cases leads to PTSD and suicide.
Unless you learn how to process trauma, you will continue to repeat the same damaging patterns that keep you stuck and in pain. Processing trauma includes:
Remember, you may have been victimized but you do not have to continue being a victim. The goal of trauma healing is to give victims a feeling that they have control over their lives again. Please note that healing from trauma cannot be done with a single technique, or a single session. Trauma is multi-factorial and complex in nature, but it is possible to heal from it.
When you first experience trauma, it is best to seek the help of a professional; if done with immediacy long-term negative impacts can be minimized. Don't leave this up to a well meaning friend or relative. You need to work through the intense emotions until you can feel safe again; choose wisely who you are vulnerable with so that you do not retraumatise yourself. Energy healing and emotional freedom technique (EFT) work are amazing techniques to help release the emotional charge from your body. There are other modalities that assist in healing trauma but these are my go to systems.
From our perspective, trauma is a journey that involves mind, heart, body and soul. As such, all 7 keys are important. However, when you start the journey to heal from trauma, it specifically involves the Keys of Choice and Belief in our book Being in Grace (Key 1 and Key 2). Essentially, you have to me 2 decision. The first is that you believe you can heal and believe that it is safe to heal. This is Key 1, the key of belief. Then, you have to do something really tough - you have to want to heal, to actively choose healing, nomatter how difficult the road is. And the first step on that road? You have to decide that you no longer wish to be the victim and to start to see your traumatic experience from a different perspective. It is a hard and brave choice to make, because you did not deserve the trauma but it is your responsibility to heal from it. You cannot let it ruin your life, do not give it that much power. Once you make those two decisions; to choose to heal and believe you can heal, then you will experience a shift within you and healing will begin to occur.
We'll return to the complex topic of trauma in future blog posts.
Author: Karen O'Shea and Lisa Weber