Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trauma Is Not What You Think It Is

Trauma Is Not What You
Think it Is

Traumatic experiences don't have to be as grandiose as you may think they do. All too often, I see people minimizing what trauma really is. They think it has to be something that is so over the top. In fact, trauma can be much less than you think and sometimes it appears to be the minor moments that are the most difficult.

Consider three examples and then determine in your own mind if they are trauma or not. First example is that you witness a horrific automobile accident where someone close to you almost dies. The second example is someone working in the most stressful of jobs every day and each day they go, it is all they can do to get through the day of stress. The third example is of a relationship breakup where the person was really in love with the other person and they decided to end the relationship.

So which ones of the examples above did you consider to be trauma or traumatic experiences? Hopefully you selected all three of them. I know, you're probably doubting what I am writing here at this time. You're most likely saying, well stress isn't a trauma or we all would be in traumatic states. I'm sure you are thinking that a relationship breakup is rough but not traumatic. Most likely the car accident is a given because of how horrific it would be.

We often minimize so much in life because our mind and body is not fully connected. We somehow see situations of trauma as being a measure or sign of how weak we are. In our society, you are supposed to be strong, have it all together and just move on in life. Unfortunately, while our brains may coax us into believing this, it is far from the truth.

A constant buildup of stress without release is often just as traumatic as any moment of trauma that you may witness. Over time, stress builds up in the same way that a traumatic experience would happen, and it does not allow our body or nervous system to come down from the level of high alert. It is like revving up the mind and body constantly all day long, day after day.

Picture running your car at 100 mph for the same amount of hours you work in a day. Then, consider that you would never let your car slow down, or be maintained but maybe once a year. Hopefully you can see where that might be a problem. Our mind and body is the same way. When we don't stop and let the stress go, we run ourselves into a dangerous situation.

Let's take the other example of a relationship breakup. I'm sure many people would be quick to say that well, at some point you would get over this and just have to move on. Yes, I would not disagree with your thought. However, the problem comes in where we either stuff our feelings of pain inside or we act as if nothing bad really happened. After all, its more important that we prove we are strong and can get back up in the saddle to ride another day. While this one experience may not take you under, when you combine it with other stresses and trauma in your life, it can be overwhelming.

Stress is stress and trauma is trauma, but a buildup of stress is trauma. The more we understand about stress and trauma, and stop minimizing its effect on our mind and body, the more healthy we will be. In all reality, it does not help to minimize what happens. The people who are strong are the ones that can look into these moments of life, reclaim the power and move towards a greater consciousness and awareness of being human. Weakness comes when you fail to allow yourself to learn and be part of these experiences.

For some people, they are able to go a very long time avoiding dealing with the stresses and traumas of life. In fact, they think everything is fine until something catches up with them. Maybe it is a heart attack or diabetes or cancer. It could be some unknown medical mystery or conversion disorder. There is also the possibility that it could be just some back pain, migraine headaches or flu and cold symptoms.

In whatever way it shows up, at some point, it will try hard to get our attention. Of course, the longer we wait to deal with it and the more we minimize it, the louder our mind and body has to get, in order for us to hear what it is saying. You can run from it, but you can't hide from these things going on within the body. The good side is that once you choose to embrace these parts of your life and not run from them, the more freedom you give yourself and the more hope and possibility becomes available to you.

For more on my experiences dealing with trauma, check out my book.
Hope And Possibility Through Trauma (Available On Amazon)

Check out more from the blog post of May 18, 2010 on Trauma

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