No one is free from trauma, even those who eat goji berries. One need not look further than the biblical story of Job or into the Buddha’s insights with the Four Noble Truths to see that suffering is indeed part of the human condition. Avoiding confronting painful events is like holding a beach ball under water. Sure you can do it, but it takes a lot of energy and it’s still likely to fly out of the water anyway (usually when you least expect it). It takes courage to examine these painful experiences and to follow a healing path, knowing that recovery is possible.
Dr. Peter Levine defines trauma as a result of instinctual resources of self-protection being overwhelmed, possibly as a result of perceived life-threatening experiences. We often think of trauma relating to soldiers returning from war, victims of severe abuse (including neglect) and violence, or those who’ve suffered catastrophic loss, accidents, or injuries. However, Dr. Levine suggests that trauma doesn’t have to originate from a single, major catastrophe; in fact, routine invasive medical and dental procedures, illness, birth stress (for mother and baby), natural disasters, or even minor car accidents can be traumatizing.
Research shows that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are strongly correlated with the development of a wide range of health issues throughout a person’s life. Even if not a major event- for small children, just their parents yelling, thunder, or even a toy that scares them (i.e. a jack-in-the-box) can overwhelm their self-protective resources. Each person has their own resources and experiences that will influence whether something is exciting and fun or horrible and fear-inducing.
Effects of Trauma
Trauma can have debilitating after-effects in both mind and body. Unresolved trauma can be devastatingly life-altering and affect our thoughts, beliefs, habits, relationships, and decision-making abilities. For some, it can trigger physical pain and symptoms, even years later.
One of the wide-ranging ways trauma can effect us is by loosening the connection to ourselves, family, and even the outside world. We constrict our choices as we avoid certain places, people, and feelings. This can cause us to feel less energized and to lose opportunities for fulfilling our dreams and goals.
Begin your Healing Path
A gradual healing process can be helped by body-workers, therapists or psychologists, friends, family, life and health coaches, and more. This is a time to treat yourself gently and engage in extreme self-care. You may feel weak upon beginning your path, but your strength and your resilience will slowly build.
The good news is that we have within us the ability to master and transform trauma into triumph. May your inner journey help you recover a deeper sense of wholeness.