“Oh, I didn’t have as bad as others, so I’m fine.”
“It’s really not that big of a deal.”
“It happened a really long time ago. I’m over it.”
Have you ever said that in conversation? Yet, when you’re driving home or you get off the zoom call, an uncomfortable feeling washes over you. It feels like that heaviness is still there, and what felt safe was to minimize the emotional pain by changing the subject.
If you’re like me, you were raised to be tough and just get through it.
The trouble is, we can only tough things out for so long. Psychology now understands that there are difficult experiences that rewire our brains and make it harder for us to function. And that just doesn’t go away, no matter how much you try to redirect or soldier through.
Most clients I’ve worked with over the last 16 years have minimized the bad things that have happened to them. They usually claim that it wasn’t really trauma and that they shouldn’t be so affected.
But by textbook definition, trauma is any situation where you felt powerless or like your life was in danger.
It’s not solely defined by car crashes, natural disasters, or violent incidents. There are all kinds of other experiences that also qualify as trauma (abandonment, rejection, and bullying, for starters).
A little bit about what trauma does to us:
Trauma literally makes the brain less functional. It ramps up our amygdala (so we are hypersensitive and overreact) and slows down our prefrontal cortex (so we can’t use reason and logic as well to solve problems). In addition, difficult feelings can pop up out of nowhere and overwhelm us.
If past trauma is causing your feelings of anxiety or overwhelm or shame, then it’s important that you know you can’t just tough it out. The way your brain has been rewired by what happened to you isn’t going to change…until you get the right kind of help.
In the next email, I’ll share more about what you can do about your past trauma experiences. The good news is that you can heal the effects of trauma in your system.
Also take a look at this post where I talk about what to do about your trauma. [ Link ]