Emotional trauma can cause us to experience profound pain and suffering, affecting our emotional, psychological, and physical health in drastic ways. Healing from emotional trauma is not an easy journey, but it is possible. Through these mindful approaches and one’s willingness to heal, one can overcome emotional pain and suffering:
Acknowledgment of the Trauma
Navigating the labyrinth of emotional trauma is a journey, one that begins with the crucial step of recognition. In truth, all of us have experienced emotional trauma to some extent. We inhabit a world saturated with toxic behavior and conditional acceptance. This normalization often blinds us to our wounds, leading us to misattribute our symptoms, or dismiss them outright, thinking, "I'm normal.
Anxiety, stress, and occasional low self-esteem are common." However, while these feelings may seem 'typical,' they are neither normal nor necessary experiences. Sometimes, even when we're aware of our emotional trauma, societal pressures and misconceptions about mental health can lead us to downplay its significance or deny its existence entirely. But remember this: acknowledging our pain and the potential need for help is not a display of weakness, but a testament to our strength. It's a courageous and essential first stride on the journey towards healing.
Acceptance of Emotions
The second stage of the healing process involves accepting our emotions and the way they affect us and those around us. It is crucial to acknowledge the potentially toxic thoughts and emotions that arise due to our unhealed emotional wounds. This stage can be painful as we may experience intense emotions such as anger, rage, depression, fear, or feeling lost or out of control. But it is essential to accept ourselves for who we are, despite these emotions, without judgment.
I often reassure people that exhibiting these behaviors does not make them a bad person. Although these emotions may be harmful, they are not indicators of our true nature and character. Just like an animal cornered, even the most mild-mannered creature will attack out of fear or cower in submission. Similarly, when we have unhealed wounds, we act to protect ourselves by lashing out or becoming depressed out of a sense of hopelessness.
Understanding the Trauma
This stage involves analyzing the specific impact that trauma has had on your life. People often fail to recognize that they have experienced trauma because they don't have distinct memories of it. However, it is much easier to identify and understand the remnants of trauma when we develop awareness around our personal emotional or psychological patterns. For instance, if we find ourselves quick to defend ourselves when we are being criticized or believe our beliefs are being challenged, this is an indicator that we feel the need to prove our worth and value. This is because, at some point in our lives, we were led to believe that it's not okay to make mistakes or be wrong, and by doing so, we are less than.
Another example might be when we have difficulty trusting others and constantly feel the need to be in control of every situation. This could stem from a past event where our trust was betrayed, causing us to build walls around ourselves as a form of protection. Our reactions and behaviors are often a direct result of past traumas that have shaped our beliefs and perspectives.
It's important to note that trauma doesn't have to be a major event or experience. It can also stem from smaller, seemingly insignificant events that may have had a significant impact on our lives. These traumas can range from childhood experiences such as being bullied or having strict parenting, to adult experiences like toxic relationships or job loss.
Forgiveness and compassion
Forgiveness and compassion aren’t necessarily “stages” but are necessary ingredients in the process of healing, which involves forgiving and having compassion for oneself and others involved in the trauma. This can be the most difficult part of healing for several reasons:
Holding onto resentment towards what has happened can give us a false sense of power over the situation, especially if we've experienced moderate to severe trauma. But resentment, while it may feel justified, is actually causing more harm than good by releasing toxic chemicals in our body, hardening our heart, and preventing us from moving forward.
We may not fully understand what forgiveness and compassion truly mean. Forgiveness is not about saying what happened was okay; it's about understanding that pain comes from pain. By forgiving others for their projection of pain, we can break the cycle. Similarly, compassion is not about validating a wrongdoing, but about accepting our humanity unconditionally in the face of adversity.
If we have created a false narrative that we were deserving of our experiences, we may find it difficult to accept that we are deserving of love. This false belief can make it difficult for us to forgive ourselves and show self-compassion, as we might believe that these are earned rewards rather than innate human qualities that we all possess.
When we forgive and have compassion, it allows us to detach from what happened and move forward with our healing journey.
The final stage of emotional trauma healing is indeed about moving forward. This phase invites us to leverage our experiences as stepping stones for growth and personal development, fostering resilience. This process entails nurturing self-awareness, disassociating from past narratives that no longer serve us, and fostering nurturing relationships with ourselves and those around us.
Emotional trauma, while daunting, is not unconquerable. It's crucial to acknowledge that healing is within reach. This journey of healing demands patience, time, and a commitment to self-improvement. Let us bear in mind that healing is not a destination - it is a journey, a constant process of growth and evolution.