Often I meet people who feel their difficulties are not justified or struggle to understand why they experience their current difficulties because they haven’t experienced ‘trauma’. We often think of trauma as being a single horrific event that happened e.g. an accident, rape, war or disaster. In reality trauma is an emotional reaction to any event and often these reactions could be classed as normal responses to frightening experiences. Those of us that have people around us who are supportive and validate our experiences will process the trauma and move on even though it is difficult and/or painful. If we experience the opposite to this and have our experiences invalidated or dismissed then we internalise the experience and assume we are the source of the problem or that our experience is ‘wrong’ or something is ‘wrong’ with us.
If we don’t process these experiences then we become trapped emotionally at that age we experienced the trauma. Longer term we can develop symptoms such as flashbacks, intense and unpredictable emotions or physical symptoms such as headaches and sickness, some may also react to current situations in incongruent ways. Often we might experience intense shame or guilt just for being us which shows up in other areas of life leading us to not be our authentic selves. There is increasing evidence that many of our diagnosed mental health disorders are as a result of trauma and the behaviours that emerge as a result are just coping mechanisms e.g. eating disorders, self-harm, alcohol or drug misuse.
We can absolutely recover from our previous experiences and live a full meaningful life without feeling restricted by past trauma. Our previous experiences shape us and we cannot undo the past, as much as we might like to. The goal isn’t to suddenly look back and not find our past experiences painful and difficult, but it is for us to feel less burdened and impacted by them. When we successfully process our previous traumas and experiences we can leave these rightfully in the past and live our lives more presently. We will continue to experience painful situations in life, unfortunately this is part of the human condition and inevitable, but through processing our previous experiences we can also learn new healthier coping strategies. The moment we can move towards changing our reactions to our experiences is where recovery starts.
Therapy is not a one size fits all or linear process, often it takes time and commitment, at times it might feel a bit like ‘trial and error’. The therapeutic process is unique between therapist and client. You will be invited to be curious and interested in your thoughts, beliefs, emotions and assumptions about the world, as well as how these impact your behaviour. This will build a foundation from which you will grow in therapy and achieve the life you imagined and wanted. Therapy will help you learn more about yourself, achieve fulfilling relationships, have better health and lead to general improvement in all areas of your life.