I think THE most important key to healing any trauma is to consider how we define trauma in any particular circumstance. According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.”.
We can also use descriptive words such as psychological trauma, emotional trauma or physical trauma. We try to find various ways to describe trauma because trauma is a very individual, personal experience: no two people will have exactly the same experience.
And in healing trauma, one of the more common phrases that I’ve heard from patients over the years has been “I got to get that sh$# out of me!”. There may be a better way to view trauma.
Realizing that how we view and define something, greatly determines our outcome with it, it’s important to consider what trauma really is in order to ensure the best outcome possible. Put another way, the lens we use to view anything determines how we interact with it, the energy we bring to it and the “reality” that we experience.
I was recently looking at Peter Levine’s work called Somatic Experiencing (https://www.somaticexperiencing.com/). He and I share a common view of what trauma is. It is disconnection from oneself and others. At different points in our lives we may experience something that is overwhelming and in order to survive, we disconnect and unplug as if to say that we’re not having that experience right now.
The result of that disconnection has consequences down the line. We can experience a multitude of symptoms and as a whole, our energy won’t be optimal and we won’t be expressing the totality of who we really are. When we disconnect, it’s much harder to reach your full potential and to feel fully alive! Depression and anxiety are a result.
We can develop the habit of disconnection and that can play out in our relationships and in our inner worlds.
I believe that the key to healing trauma is not to “go back” and “get it out” as if it was a weed growing inside of us. The key to healing trauma is to practice connection, every day, with ourselves and others. We can practice connection by breathing, moving, focusing on how we’re using our energy, feeling tension and flowing with it, practicing empathy.
The habit of disconnection can be a gift. It can be a doorway to finding your true self and reaching your fullest potential. At some point the only why that matters is finding the gift in the wound.