Thursday, October 19, 2017

What trauma did you experience when you were young?

What is trauma? There are traumatic events that take place unexpectedly, and there is ongoing trauma that happens for some people. And really it is the trauma that develops inside a person that is the real trauma. This trauma is the emotions that get stuck and the negative self-beliefs that are formed from these emotions.
Young children have no skills for coping with either unexpected traumatic events or ongoing trauma. They have no resources. They are reliant on the adults that care for them, to protect them and support them to healthily deal with emotions. During the first 3 years their brains are rapidly developing. The brain is very vulnerable, especially at that time. Disrupted brain development can result in brain pathways not being formed in a functional working way leading to emotional, cognitive, behavioural and/or interpersonal deficits or disorders. And psychological research is showing that there is a link between trauma in childhood and adult health problems.
What took place for you in your early years? The results of trauma play out all through your life. It’s not so much what the trauma is, but what happened inside you. Do you become scared of people? Did you become unable to have a close relationship? Did you comply and agree and do people pleasing behaviours? Did you become a workaholic, or an alcoholic or a substance abuser to run away from it? Or are the effects more subtle, like me. When I was a baby, my older brother was ill with polio for a long time, and it seems to me that I was crying a lot and I was not heard. This led to feelings and internal beliefs of unworthiness, not being heard, the need to be “good”, not wanting to speak up for myself, not valuing myself.
If the child’s significant carer is unknowingly part of the trauma, maybe by not being available, or by providing inconsistent love, or by not meeting basic needs, or by not protecting the child, then the child is going to grow up feeling the impact every day. Those first few years are so profoundly important for a person.
When we think about how widespread trauma and its effects are, it would be easy to feel despair. How can someone overcome the internal impact of trauma which happened when so very young and vulnerable? When young there is no way for a child to develop healthy emotional responses, unless the adults around provide loving mature support.

But can it be done later? YES. There are many forms of help available. You can choose the one that feels right for you. Whether it is talking and understanding the trauma and the impact, or emotional release work, or body work, or spiritual work. Trauma can turn into empowerment. Trauma can be growth for you. Through facing your own trauma and the emotions attached, there can develop a greater compassion for yourself, and greater compassion for others. This can lead to you living a more satisfying and authentic life. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Saying sorry, apologising, asking for forgiveness.

Are these 3 the same thing?
Anyway, starting at the beginning. When children are young, parents, educators and others encourage children to say they are sorry, when they have hurt someone, or broken someone’s thing. Children are told to say sorry, before they have even understood what it means. It looks like just being taught the words for the occasion. However, most people probably also model this around the children and say they are sorry when required. An adult might even say, for example: “I’m sorry that you broke Aunty’s vase. Now she doesn’t have her vase that she has loved for years. I’m going to say sorry to Aunty. How about you do too?”
For some adults, sorry doesn’t happen. Maybe they didn’t have the teaching or the modelling when young. And there is more to it than that. Saying sorry or apologising can be downright difficult. It can feel really awkward. It’s like exposing yourself as being wrong. It’s like revealing your worst self. You just don’t want to say those words. How would you feel about asking someone to forgive you? Does that feel even stronger?
When you do say sorry, does the other person acknowledge what you have said and say thank you? What do you say when someone apologises to you? Often we tend to brush it off and say something like “That’s ok” or “No need to apologise” or “There is nothing to forgive”. We try and make things better as fast as possible to get out of that awkward situation, instead of using the opportunity for a real connection.
I have had the experience of my apology and my asking for forgiveness being treated just like that. And for me, it then feels like I’m not free of it.  When someone told me that forgiveness was not needed, I felt like I was being shut off, brushed aside, not listened too, and not valued.
Asking for forgiveness or apologising for something you have done, whether you meant to do it or not, gives you the opportunity to be honest, it gives you the chance to show kindness, it gives you the time to connect authentically. It allows you to accept what you did and to be free of the feelings associated with it. It allows you to drop it.
It could be an apology for words causing emotional hurt, or upset, even though you were unaware of doing that and had no intention of causing pain. Apologies are powerful. They can mean that you connect instead of brushing stuff aside.
Responding to an apology or request for forgiveness is a wonderful chance to really listen and understand the other side. To inquire into what was actually going on for the other person. So feel grateful for the apology and say thank you, instead of brushing it away.
And think about saying sorry to yourself. Or forgiving yourself. Give yourself some love and compassion.