Trauma – What is it?
There are a variety of meanings given to the term trauma. The following is how I have come to understand what constitutes trauma, what complicates trauma and some useful antidotes to the impact of trauma. This understanding has assisted me greatly to develop a more trusting, loving inner dialogue with myself (especially when under stress). It assists me to recognise and foster connections that are genuinely respectful, robust and loving. And it emboldens me to value my thoughts, feelings and unique communication style.
Trauma may occur as a major life event such as a significant physical injury, accident or sudden (or prolonged) death and loss of someone, or something, important to us.
Trauma may also occur as “death by a thousand cuts” i.e., frequent and accumulative moments in life where we have felt invisible and experienced our needs being neither recognised nor responded to, or, if they were responded to, they were done so in a manner that caused us to feel shamed, wrong or undeserving in some way.
A traumatic event, in and of itself, need not result in long-term, unwanted impacts on our lives or relationships. If what we experience as traumatic is acknowledged, by ourselves and by another, and our physical, emotional and spiritual responses and needs met with compassion, courage and kindness, any possible long-term impact can be contained and mitigated.
When a loving witness is absent and a compassionate response is not forthcoming at the time of the original incident/s, there is a tendency for trauma to be internalised and for shame to wrap around the initial experience and enter the psyche of the individual. By this I mean we experience the event and then, in the absence of a loving response, we deduce that this thing has happened because there is something wrong with us (we must be deserving of this in some way). This idea may consequently become the basis on which our relationship with self, our feelings, thoughts and lived experience, is developed.
Trauma informed counselling assists individuals to “unlearn” this faulty personal view of self so that a more authentic, loving and compassionate connection to self is developed. This has the capacity to greatly reduce the impact of an inner critic and dialogue built on shame. Shining a light on the origins of shame has the capacity to open ourselves to a deep, inner wisdom and makes space for increased freedom and choice about how we move through life and who we connect with along the way. No time to waste!
(My understanding of trauma and shame has been greatly influenced and shaped by David Bedrick, and Process Oriented Psychology.)
Peace, but only on my terms, is no peace at all.
We can't have peace without Diversity. I am not talking about an unbounded acceptance of everything that leaves people harmed. I am talking about an openness to difference (inner and outer) that genuinely makes space for the 'other', even when it feels uncomfortable.
If we don't cultivate this capacity, peace is simply not possible, only some form of control and suppression posing as peace and eventually blowing up in our lives and communities.
Regret and Grief...
I used to think that it was important to do everything in my power so as not to be left with any regrets at the passing of someone, or some creature, I loved. If I got it right whilst they were alive, regret would not be part of my loss.
I have come to realise that regret is an integral part of grief. It is an intimate aspect of grieving the loss of a loved soul (experience, life style, etc). It is not a sign that the one grieving has done something wrong or has been inadequate in some way within the relationship to the lost love.
Regret arises from an utterly natural process, as a result of simply being human. Having days when we were too tired to respond well, too stressed to notice what was needed, and so on.
When we love deeply, of course we will look back and wish we had responded differently, behaved differently, done something more, something less, we are only human! And it is because of our love that we wish this.
One of the things I most love about learning to respect diversity?
Agreement is optional - and different viewpoints don’t have to endanger or diminish connection.
How we disagree matters!