…and what might be done about it.
by Rain Phutureprimitive (reposted with permission)
🖤Nearly everyone has experienced trauma or wounding in their lives. Left unhealed, this can lead to all kinds of behavior, choices, actions, emotional states, unconscious survival patterns and illnesses that end up lowering the quality of our lives and negatively impacting those around us.
🖤Every person on this planet has a different threshold for, and response to, traumatic events. What is traumatic for one person may go unnoticed by another. If it landed as traumatic to the person in question, then it was traumatic for them. Likewise, what can trigger this unhealed wounding is also different for each person. The fact that it may or may not make sense to you is irrelevant to the fact that, for them, they may be reliving unhealed wounding and may not even be aware of it.
🖤Sadly we all live in different brackets, classes, and levels of convenience, privilege, and wealth. Despite this vast and tragic landscape of man-made scarcity and abundance, trauma can happen to anyone. To draw the conclusion that someone is immune to the effects of trauma or are not allowed to speak to their suffering simply because they have more privilege or advantage is neither helpful or accurate in a healing context. The diversity of privilege and poverty we have is horrifying. The range and severity of suffering on this planet is vast and clearly, some are in much more immediate need than others. I’m saying I believe the origin of this imbalance and suffering stems largely from unhealed wounding/trauma. And that healing this imbalance can be massively accelerated by each of us taking responsibility for addressing what is unhealed within us. I’m making the point that trauma does not discriminate. And just as hurt people hurt people… Healed people heal people.
🖤When a person experiences a traumatic event, the emotional and mental parts of them that were most impacted often cease to develop (until the trauma is healed). Meaning, despite their current age, if an adult suddenly begins to behave in an immature or childish manner in response to a stressful event (such as an argument with a spouse or partner), unhealed wounding or trauma has likely just been triggered, and they are now behaving at the emotional, mental and or even physical maturity level of the age at which the initial trauma occurred. Far more effective than blaming or judging someone for behaving this way, is to see them compassionately, and view them as a child, at roughly whatever age their trauma occurred (do this internally and do not accuse them of being childish or talk down to them). If a child became emotionally distraught because they were afraid, whether or not that fear was real or imagined, an appropriate response would be one of compassion and love… a response designed to help them feel safe and understood, without judging them or making them wrong. Try that.
🖤Once trauma has occurred, coping mechanisms are usually created to help survive the event. Often our coping mechanisms are blind to us, meaning we don’t realize they exist or see them when they are happening. No two peoples coping mechanisms are exactly the same, but here are some common “go-to’s”: Regularly externalizing (projecting) the source of one’s discontent or suffering. Regularly blaming or shaming others. Displaying regular patterns of avoidance or anxiousness. Displaying a pattern of inflexible attachment to outcome. Having an externally derived sense of value. A regular pattern of being self-absorbed. An inability or unwillingness to take responsibility for one's emotional state or actions. Consistently seeking the attention of others. A regular pattern of victim, hero or perpetrator (Karpman drama triangle). A pattern of fear. A pattern of fear of intimacy. A pattern of uninformed righteous condemnation of others. A pattern of depression. A pattern of “drama”. Patterns of co-dependence. (I’ve derived these from my own observations, healing, and books I’ve read. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Just because one of these shows up does not mean unhealed trauma is present, but in my opinion, providence considerable evidence for it.
🖤The unconscious mind works hard to maintain the coping mechanisms and states of trauma. Here is the survival based “logic” behind it: "Even though these conditions may be painful, they have kept us alive, therefore we’ll keep doing them to stay alive." This is one reason why healing from trauma can be so challenging. It goes against the will of the unconscious mind.
🖤A common response to unhealed trauma is to blame another person for it. (Yes, sometimes this is true. Quite often it is not). An innocent person may inadvertently trigger someone else’s unhealed trauma/wounding. The triggered person will then emotionally react as if the original source of their trauma has just happened and project much or all of their suffering from that original event onto the other person who just triggered them. This often leads the triggered person to react in an exaggerated or inappropriate manner. While they are actually responding in large part to the original unhealed trauma from their past, they are often blind to that. They will likely assume their exaggerated emotional response to the immediate event is totally appropriate and justified. Sometimes, the lengths to which a person triggered by unhealed wounding/trauma will go to is considerable, such as vehemently denying the true source of their suffering and instead targeting someone who has more recently triggered them as the source, causing damage, pain, and trauma in others, thus continuing the cycle of trauma. This is often because it is easier to project the cause of our deeply held pain onto others than to face the original event which caused it. It is also a core reason why it is so important for each of us to heal that which is unhealed within us, to break the cycle.
🖤Another common response to unhealed wounding is holding the presupposition that the person who triggered them was intentionally attempting to cause harm, act with malice, attack them or is mean, bad, or evil. They will often invent motives and claim them as fact, exaggerate events or emit context in order to justify their pain, while often blind to the fact that the core of their suffering is actually from their unhealed past and far less about what has triggered them in the moment. This often leads to inappropriate, defamatory, false or righteous condemnation of the person who triggered them and even others who simply hold some resemblance in appearance or action to their original perpetrator. They may do so on social media causing further harm and damage, in an attempt to recruit the support of others in their “story” of victimhood, all to help justify a wound who’s source is too unbearable to confront.
🖤Usually, the initial event which created the wounding/trauma stems from the actions of another person, often our parents and often in our childhood. It may have been intentional, or unintentional. In either case, I believe it is usually the result of unhealed trauma/wounding leaking out or lashing out and causing trauma/wounding in another. This is where the notion that “hurt people hurt people” comes from.
🖤Taking responsibility for our own wounding and resulting behavior; for our own emotions and coping mechanisms does not mean the person who initially caused that trauma has no responsibility. Nor is it about denying we were at one point the participant of an event that caused pain, fear, trauma or wounding. It’s about making a choice: “Now that it’s happened, it’s up to me to decide what I do about it. It’s up to me to decide what meaning to give the experience, and how to heal. Do I identify as a victim? Do I identify as a person who can turn this experience into a strength and help others? Do I want my life to be better or worse as a result of this happening? Are my resulting actions possibly based on unhealed wounding from my past or are they coming from a genuine place of love and healing? Am I condemning someone without being truly open to what their motives were? Am I creating conditions for deeper understanding and healing?” It was Viktor Frankl (a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps) who said “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
🖤Everyone has their own model of the world and their own wounds they carry. Because someone else responds to a situation differently does not instantly make them wrong or mean they were attempting to hurt you. It’s possible they are acting from a place of unhealed wounding or trauma. It’s also possible they simply have a different model for what is appropriate or normal in that moment and it happens to trigger unhealed trauma or wounding in you. Try replacing your judgment with curiosity about the other person’s model of the world. Be open to simply seeing it as a different way of living, instead of being wrong.
🖤Unhealed emotional and mental wounding often ends up mirroring itself in the body, leading to a variety of physical illnesses, pain, and suffering. I believe it's usually not a question of if this will happen, but when.
* None of this is said to condemn, judge, belittle or make wrong anyone who has unhealed wounding/trauma or acts out on its behalf. It is a noticing of the ways in which unhealed trauma impacts and influences those who have it, those who are exposed to it and how frequently it is the source of our suffering. Clearly, my suggestions are not relevant in every situation. (If for example, a triggered person becomes abusive or violent, a different approach may be necessary).
* I believe that if everyone assumed they have a level of unhealed wounding or trauma in their past and made it a priority to address even just some of it, the positive impact that would have on the quality of life on this planet, for everyone, would be profound. Healed people heal people.
🖤A recent journal entry: As a result of the healing work I’ve been doing over the past year, experiences which used to triggered a strong negative emotional response or a bound up sense of resistance, are now arriving more like newborn seeds landing on the fertile soil of a freshly scorched landscape, making way for growth, opportunity, potential, boundless expression, and new life. The way I see and interact with challenges is radically changing. I witness their nature rather with less attachment and resistance. Gratitude is becoming a default, and not dependent on things feeling “good” for it to show up. I have greater depths of compassion for others, and myself, even when they are acting out of unhealed wounding or trauma. I take things less personally. I spend more time in states of love and possibility and less time in states of fear. I see others and myself more clearly, with less unhealed wounding clouding my view. Far less of my mind is hijacked, unconsciously scanning for potential threat (a leftover coping mechanism that had been running since childhood), leaving far more mental capacity for being present. I am more consistently resourced. I contribute more. I listen more. And the more I heal, the more I want to help others do the same.
Some of the healing modalities I’ve done in the last year:
Shaman led 5meo DMT Journeys
Date with Destiny (Tony Robbins)
PTSD and trauma release counseling
EMDR (have not yet tried, but plan to)
Some of the books recently read:
"Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie,
"Attached" by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller,
"Facing Codependence" by Pia Mellody
“Attached” by Walter Dixon and Amir Levine
"The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk
“Mans Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
“Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix
"The Six Pillars of Self Esteem" by Nathaniel Brandon
“Conscious Loving” by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks
"The Truth" by Neil Strauss
"Radical Acceptance" by Tara Brach
"The Surrender Experiment" by Michael Singer
"Learning to Love Yourself" by Gay Hendricks
"Loving Yourself Advanced Program" by Gay Hendricks
“Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins
"Creating Lasting Change" by Tony Robbins