January 24th, 2017 / Jake White
This article will give you a greater understanding of trauma and the role it plays in healing our body and mind. Of course, we do not want to explore traumatic situations they bring to the surface painful thoughts, memories, emotions, and feelings. We often keep ourselves at a distance from our painful historical experiences. Opening up to the past does have a role to play in our life in relation to the quality of life that we live in the present. Often times our past surfaces through our natural reaction to current life experiences. Because of the need to separate from the past we end up feeling overwhelmed, anxious, too busy, out of control, challenge with relaxing, and depressed. This article will give you my personal story about trauma and the lessons I learned from my own experience. From this personal experience I will explore how we manage traumatic events through our energy, what aspects of ourselves keep trauma alive and active in our life, and how compassion and love strengthen once we learning how to manage traumatic events in our life.
We all have experiences with trauma, but in many ways, we don’t fully understand them. We often don’t look at trauma as an experience that we all go through. Trauma is for those that we see on the news, in self help books and shows, or those that are distant friends or acquaintances. We have to understand that we all go through trauma in our life and yes there are varying degrees of trauma. Some are huge instances of loss and personal harm while others are small instances that hold a surprising amount of weight and impact on our life. Trauma is not as distant from ourselves as we think, and understanding how trauma interacts with our life can open the doors to compassion for ourselves and others. From my experience, trauma can be a single or recurring instance of harm to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of ourselves that creates lasting protective reactions that influence the quality of our life. These instances reverberate through our life and are recreated in the present moment in order to bring relief from our past traumas. Tumultuous impacts of experience have the power to influence the potential of our future and impact our moment-to-moment decision-making. We have to be able to define those moments that impacted us in negative ways and caused us confusion or disorientation. If we can define these moments then we can start to open up to the feelings that mirror them and begin to simply address the energy of trauma that remains in our body. Seeing this energy as layers of reaction in order to create distance from the event and the feelings that are associated with them helps us to uncover the feelings, emotions, thoughts and conclusions, and patterns that create our current ways of coping with trauma. As a specific example to show you the impact that a moment in time can have on the picture of our life, I would like to focus on an accident that relates to me. When I was seventeen, my dad was bucked off his horse and broke eight ribs and his collarbone. When I heard about this accident, I experienced a moment of disorientation as I was deeply hurt, afraid, and overwhelmed. While I was aware that I was hurting for my father, I was not fully conscious of how much I was hurting and how big of an impact this change in my fathers condition would have on my life. At the time of this event, my father needed help on my family farm; he was stuck in bed and I was supposed to be the one to fill his shoes. I felt overwhelmed by the event and experienced a strong since of pressure and panic in the prospect of having to step into my fathers role on the family farm. My reaction was to ignore my feelings and the pain of this event as I moved toward my friends for comfort.
It is during trauma that we begin to see what follows and ultimately what keeps it alive in our consciousness. When we look back at trauma, we are starting a process of becoming curious as to why we currently find ourselves in conflict and why our current conflicts often mirror our past experiences. This mirroring shows us that our current life is being heavily influenced by an event that occurred in our past and is pointing us back to resolving the situations that we reacted to. In my own situation, I was not able to feel the initial impact of my dad’s accident and my response was to run toward my social life. As you become more aware of your story, you may identify how you coped with the complex feelings, memories, people, and events that created your situation. We can experience this as fragmented aspects of trauma that feel completely overwhelming. Coping is a form of disassociation, disconnection, and numbing that occurs in relation to these events and places us off our center and out of balance. Healing comes when we begin to see that what we are relying on for release does not address the energy of trauma, does not reconnect us with ourselves, and leads to the perpetuation of separation and a continuation of the dynamics of our past. What was alive for me in the experience of my father’s injury was the feelings of shock, the deep feelings of overwhelm and inadequacy in relation to taking care of the farm, and the patterns I have enrolled in over the past eight years to fix the guilt I felt for not being there for my father when he needed me. What perpetuates trauma is never the trauma itself, but the steps we take away from feeling and healing what occurred in the moment of shock. The way that we currently heal trauma is by allowing ourselves to feel what has occurred in our past and beginning to let go of the patterns that separate us from our feelings.
A slow process of engaging with our feelings in relation to what has occurred is always the opening to a love and compassion that is far larger than we can imagine. My personal story has shown me that I am bigger than what has happened, I am also larger than the years of reactions that I took in response to the impact that my dad and I experienced together. Trauma forces us to become aware on a moment to moment basis of our reactions to life circumstances. I noticed myself never feeling at peace with out working, feeling reactive when I saw others tending to the chores on the farm, and felt isolated from my family. I began to become aware of these felt reactions as a sensitivity for not helping my dad, and spent years attempting to fix this dynamic. When I am aware of my futile attempts to fix myself, my guilt, my farm, and my father, I can finally see and love the parts of myself that were stuck in this dynamic. We can simply never fix our past through our personal will; we can only choose to understand and decide to no longer live it out. By being completely aware of how trauma played out in my life, I gave myself the power to choose and let go of the painful feelings in which I was holding onto. I have never seen a person that does not reach this conclusion when they have the desire to follow through with their healing. Trauma is attempting to show us back to the message of our heart and to bring the history of our beliefs, thoughts, and patterns to a conclusion. Trauma always brings us back to a place of wholeness before we ever experienced the event that sent us on a course away from ourselves. The conclusion comes when we are so completely aware that we see the first initial step into the dynamics that were created to cope with our feelings. This first step is to have a foundation of feeling, in which we notice the moments in which our body reacts to current situations that bring to the surface our old experiences around trauma. Noticing the relationship with the CURRENT situation helps us to relax our triggers and decide not to spin out into our thoughts, beliefs, self-judgments, and patterns of coping. Love and compassion means to feel our current relationship with our body and to manage these reactions through our own attention. When we practice this, we are beginning to manage our reactions and create a relationship of safety within our body and mind.
Trauma is our greatest teacher and helps us to understand our history. When I have worked with the energy that surrounds trauma, I have seen that the desire to change our current suffering is a sign that we are beginning to feel the gravity and weight of a past event that is pulling us toward resolution. This gravity and desire to end our current limitations shows us that we are wanting a more vibrant and healthy relationship with ourselves and life. If we are willing to understand and define what has caused us trauma, discover the parts of ourselves that managed these confusing and complex reactions, and begin to create practices around feeling our physical body in the midst of our own emotional and mental reactions, then we will find a sense of safety and security in our own capacity to let go of what once separated us from a full and vibrant life.
Below is video to support and provide more information about the topic of trauma: