How Becoming More Trauma Literate Will Enhance Your Life
And increase your emotional intelligence
It’s a word that can ruin any dinner party or social gathering.
Even saying the word can give those around you feelings of discomfort. Something to discard into the pile of subjects that we never talk about. EVER!!
Whenever I talk about my childhood or trauma that I’ve experienced in my life I usually have everyone pull out their phones to avoid the sticky conversation that is about to take place.
The reality is we all have trauma. Most of us just think of it in terms of something catastrophic. Child abuse/molestation, a bad car wreck, etc.
Trauma is something that is much more regular in our everyday lives.
Becoming better acquainted with trauma can provide greater meaning for all our relationships and connections with other people. Allowing for greater feelings of compassion, forgiveness, and all the other things we desperately need in this world right now.
Trauma vs Traumatic Event
In order to understand trauma we must first differentiate between the trauma and the traumatic event.
The traumatic event is the ACTUAL event. For instance it is the actual moment of me being yelled at as a four year old child throwing a temper tantrum.
The trauma is our PERCEPTION about the event. For instance, I was yelled at when I was angry. It is bad to feel angry. Whenever I am angry I feel bad. Therefore I am bad.
I’ve been working as a Life Coach for the past three years, and someone who has had a fascination with the mind and emotions my entire life. What I have come to realize is
Trauma is a story (mental+emotional) about an experience.
Most of what I realized about my own trauma and the people I have worked with is based on this blueprint. I am still living the story of the experience right now.
Rewriting the Story
Our new understanding of the mind body connection is making waves in the mental health and wellness community. Just look at the work of Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D, Dr. Gabor Mate, and Dr. Nicole LePera.
They are pioneering a new understanding about a holistic approach of mind, body and soul to address one’s health. Their work dives into the areas of neuroplasticity (the brain can rewire itself simply by THINKING and experiencing something different), and epigenetics (behavior and choice can alter the cells in the body).
From a real world application we can use these tools to re-frame our trauma and heal from it instead of repressing it and being subconsciously controlled by it.
Let’s take the example of being yelled at as a child:
The actual event occurred, I was yelled at for throwing a temper tantrum.
The story (trauma) that I created around it I am continuing to play out today. I was yelled at because I was bad. The more I repeat this over the next 20 years the more it becomes a core belief of, I’m bad. I’m also unable to feel angry because I believed it was bad to do so.
Using the new tools we can rewire the brain to create a different story (mental thought+emotional somatic experience).
I can recognize that I am acting from a place of trauma. I bring awareness to the fact that HERE, RIGHT NOW, I AM SAFE. This awareness allows me to see that the story of my trauma from an objective place.
Seeing it from a place of non judgement I can notice the mental thoughts and emotional experiences I am feeling without being sucked too far in.
Mental thoughts are “my mother is mad at me.” Emotional experience is shame, guilt, and anger.
Now, using my awareness, I can rewrite the story.
My new story is my mother didn’t know how to regulate her own emotions, she was having a bad day, and none of this had anything to do with me (mental). This allows me to have more compassion and FEEL empathy and forgiveness. For myself and for her (emotional).
The experience (traumatic event) is exactly the same. BUT I have consciously decided to rewrite my story/perception (trauma) having a different mental and emotional connection to it.
Ignorance is the Greatest Evil
In a world that has so much “otherness” going on in the form of race, gender, nationality, socioeconomic status, etc. it can be easy to find an enemy. Most of of fighting comes from being in a state of ignorance.
The greatest evil in this world is ignorance.
The root word, ignore, means to be unaware, to not know, to take no notice.
We cannot continue to ignore our problems and pretend they will just go away. This world is going to change from the inside out through each individual shining a light of awareness on their own stories and perceptions.
It is normal to feel. We have to stop ignoring the messages that they provide for us. We have to normalize sharing our stories, that is our mental+emotional perceptions that we experience in this world.
We are social creatures. We learn through sharing with others. Yeah, it is uncomfortable to open up and feel certain things, and talk about certain things with family, friends, and other loved ones.
What is the alternative? We know that numbing doesn’t work. You don’t need any statistics to know that something FEELS off in the way we currently go to great lengths to avoid feeling and sharing our experiences.
We can’t continue ignoring a problem that has a solution if we are brave enough, and wise enough to face it.
A new story is taking place. One where we can open up to increasing our emotional and spiritual intelligence as a species to meet our ever increasing technological advances.