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.