Trauma occurs when we are subjected to an event that sharply and abruptly undermines our basic rights for freedom, safety, order, love, and meaningful connections. A horrific event, that breaks through our defenses so suddenly, and with such immense force, it often can throw a real blow to our psyche. A blow that leaves a lasting mark on our consciousness, and can change our future identity in fundamental ways.
In the aftermath of a traumatic event, these are our most common reactions:
We go into shock, into disbelief. Especially in the case of extreme traumas, we become overwhelmed and we shut down. We are unable to cope, to react, to think. We paralyze. We are no longer there. We black out. No part of us is left, so the memory of the event is erased. We disappear, and with us, the memory of the trauma also disappears. We shut down.
We disassociate. We emotionally, mentally, and even physically detach from the trauma. This is a survival mechanism, meant to allow us the space to process the event and to react in some form, rather than become fully paralyzed. We desensitize from our pain, we numb our emotions, and we disconnect from our identity. This gives us some much needed breathing time, to basically pull ourselves together and cope with the situation at hand.
This is, of course, supposed to be temporary.
When the detachment becomes chronic, especially in the case of exposure to chronic trauma , we can fully disassociate from ourselves. We basically permanently reside outside ourselves. Outside our true feelings. Outside our true identities. An artificial life, an artificial alter-ego. Our journey is in a sense hijacked by trauma, and it suddenly changes direction. We create a new existence either from a very mental, disconnected place, or from a place of false feelings (lies that we tell ourselves, to mask our internal trauma).
This is also when we are most open to manipulation, to distortion. We become susceptible to suggestions, and we can easily get swayed to go into a direction that isn’t natural to us. We can easily step into a journey that isn’t our own. We lose touch with ourselves. Trauma is the perfect means to brainwash humans into doing something that they naturally would never do. Trauma is the perfect way to infect humanity with the capacity to go against that which is natural. The capacity to go against what is sacred.
We become anxious. Afraid. We feel vulnerable, exposed, unsafe, we don’t know who to trust anymore. We can never relax. We are always moody, depressed, in pain. Unable to relax. Unable to be. We stress. We become physically and emotionally sick. We enter a chronic state of deterioration.
We isolate ourselves. We go into hiding; we become scared of living. We build walls around ourselves, and we retreat within. We withdraw, we have no interest in the world, we minimize our experiences, and we are often afraid to ask for help.
Or, we become needy; we beg for attention, for love, for care. We are desperately looking for some kind of help in everyone and everything that comes our way; something to make the pain go away. Something to help with the fear. We try to escape through others. Through experiences. Anything to escape the loneliness. We develop a real fear of separation. We begin to lie, so that others wouldn’t go away. This is how we develop self-doubt, self-judgment, self-hate; this is also how we can develop a need for a savior. We fall into an extreme form of hopelessness. An extreme need for approval, for acceptance; also for recognition.
We can also develop the need to control everything. We create the illusion that if we are in control of as many aspects of life here, it means that we are safe, and pain free. We begin to consume life, rather than live life naturally; we consume experiences from others, rather than organically flow with the experiences. We create plans, and timelines, and maps, and schedules and agendas. We create a mental future, while ignoring a heart based present. We abdicate our responsibility to the now moment. And if we lose control, we panic and tumble into a further state of fear. Defeat, self-destruction, obsession, addiction. Unplugged from all responsibility. From all sense of care. Sometimes we can also go to the other extreme. We become oppressive, abusive, dictatorial even. We develop the capacity to enslave the journey of others to suit ours. To cater to our own agenda.
We stand up. We recognize that trauma is unnatural, and we take action.
We wish to restore things to their natural state. Physically, emotionally, mentally or socially, we draw the line, and we take steps to protect ourselves. To protect what we feel absolutely can not be lost to trauma, to fear, to anger, or to artificial behaviors. We fight to protect our absolute bottom-lines. To protect what we consider sacred. To protect our own sacred boundaries.
When we have healthy self-esteem, and healthy self-awareness, we can defend ourselves in a healthy way. We recognize all the levels on which we are affected by trauma. All the levels on which we might have created from detachment, fear, pain, and self-denial. We recognize what is artificial in our body, in our minds, in our emotions, in our behaviors, in our habitats, in our relationships, and we seek to heal. To return to a place of joy again. To find safety. Health. Freedom. Love. Meaning. To find a way to process the trauma, and move beyond it, back into a place of well-being, thriving, sovereignty.
When we have healthy boundaries, we know to be alert and to not allow our own well-being to be sacrificed; we take action.
If the trauma is very intense though, our desire to defend ourselves can quickly be overshadowed by our fear. In this case:
- we don’t dare take action; we give into our fear. We resign ourselves to routines, to the unnatural, we give up. We give up on ourselves. This is when we can easily lose self-respect and take unto abuse willingly. Or go into self-destructive behavior. Or into self-loathing. We can also go into further detachment, as a means to forget. Or hide behind other people’s battles.
- we only take half-actions. We shy away from the big steps. From the big changes. We engage only in superficial battles. In the easy surface battles, and avoid the true core issues. We avoid confronting our biggest fears. We only join half-battles. Or we delude ourselves into thinking that we are fighting the full battle, when in fact we aren’t. We never go the full way. We half-sacrifice many sacred boundaries and morals.
- or we build up the courage to take full actions. To confront all the aspects in our lives that are unnatural, to take full responsibility. If it comes to it, we are willing to do anything, to defend ourselves against threats to our well-being. We are willing to confront our darkest fears with integrity and authenticity. We don’t wish to sacrifice any aspect of ourselves. In spite of our fear, we take action.
- we build up the courage to speak and to ask for help. To ask for others to fight along with us, and support the sacred.
Unhealthy self-defense: when we have unhealthy self-esteem, and unhealthy self-awareness, we have unhealthy personal boundaries. When we have unhealthy boundaries, we don’t recognize our full potential to experience joy or pain. This can be easily used against us. If we don’t have conditions, or bottom-lines, we can easily take more abuse or pain than what is acceptable to us. If even acceptable at all. We can’t honor ourselves and our integrity with clarity.
We can also fight for the wrong causes. We engage in battles that are not ours to fight. We passionately stand up for unhealthy, unaligned battles. We can’t discern what we’re protecting. We have no clear or healthy purpose to our behavior. This is neurotic behavior in a sense. We delude ourselves into thinking that we are fully right in what we are doing, simply because we are unable to see the full picture. This is how dogma and rigidity happen.
Or, we can also get lost, in a pursuit with absolutely no direction, no purpose. We become open to everything and anything. No boundaries at all. This is a dangerous flexibility, which makes us very easy to manipulate; easy to control, easy to enslave.
We become irritable. Aggressive. Restless. We can’t take the internal trauma anymore. In our hurt, we can develop our capacity to harm others. To be violent. To attack. We become resentful, hostile. Sometimes destructive. Even revengeful.
We are also very susceptible to manipulation when we are angry. It’s very easy to get recruited into artificial conflicts in this state. Into division. Separation. Opposition. Hate.
We acknowledge the trauma. The pain. The loss. We honor our pain, and we allow ourselves to fully feel it. We grieve over what was harmed, over what was distorted, over what was lost. We are authentic, and honest with ourselves. When grief gets out of balance though, we can go into a state of hopelessness, or withdrawal, or blame or self-guilt. In extreme cases, we might even develop survivor guilt, or Stockholm syndrome, and even defend our abusers.
When we confront our trauma from a healthy balanced place, we understand that trauma is not something naturally existing in creation. It isn’t normal. In our most natural and organic state of self, we have no reason to ever experience trauma. When we live happy, meaningful, connected lives, we create happy, meaningful, connected experiences. When we are aligned with our environment, with our habitat, with our own selves, nature doesn’t traumatize us. The natural forces don’t traumatize us. We also have no desire to traumatize one another. Instead we work together. We flow together. We communicate. Life isn’t a painful experience.
It would take a brand new force, an external threat, to create trauma. A new construct in a sense. A new form of creation. Or perhaps an accident. An error. An anomaly. A mutation. An artificial disease.
When we accept trauma as something that doesn’t belong in our existence, we take healthy steps towards healing it, integrating it, and then we take steps towards preventing it from happening again. We take measures to avoid trauma in future experiences. We protect that which is sacred: our well-being, our joy, our freedom. Our healthy boundaries. We accept and we take responsibility at the same time. This is healthy acceptance.
We accept that it happened, but we don’t accept it happening again.
If acceptance doesn’t happen from a healthy place though, but rather from a disconnected place, where we believe trauma, pain, suffering, the kill or be killed dynamic are normal parts of life, acceptance can leave us very vulnerable. Open to further trauma. To further pain. We are unable to recognize the true extent of our own sacred boundaries, and we allow unnatural things to continue happening to us. When we accept trauma as something organic in nature, as a natural occurrence, we basically invite trauma to stay, and we ourselves continue creating more capacity for trauma in our behaviors. In our creations. Unconditional acceptance is very dangerous. It is, in and of itself, another form of detachment from our own pain. From our own survival instincts. Another form of self-denial.
When we accept trauma and live in the subconscious scenario of omnipresent danger, we can also develop a chronic need to judge. Or a chronic fear of judgement at the same time.
Our collective trauma
How many of these trauma-based patterns do you recognize within your behavior? If you take a look around, how many of these patterns do you recognize in the collective behavior?
Could it be that we are all suffering from collective trauma?
Could it be that we are all building the entire fabric of this reality from a place of unhealed pain?
There seems to be a collective soul pattern of trauma, fear, anger and detachment on all continents. War and expulsion, treachery and betrayal; enslavement, pillage, rape, torture, and other forms of violence; entire nations and cultures built on conquered or stolen land. These are by no means the foundations of a healthy collective.
Trauma is deeply anchored within our cells. It has become a firm component of our genetic and physiological makeup; an unconscious reflex even. Pain resides in the collective psyche of humanity and is being added to on a daily basis, and it goes unaddressed for the most part. Which in turn creates more pain. A loop of trauma. Traumatized parents traumatize their kids, the kids grow up to traumatize their own kids, and so on, until we create a heavy and deep history of repetitive trauma.
This cycle can only be broken through self-healing.
How do we heal trauma?
Self-healing and collective-healing are of course very complex and ever evolving topics and they will require many further blog posts in order to fully explore; but for now, I will offer a quick summary on what we can do to heal the trauma in our lives, based on patterns that I’ve observed in my own healing and other people’s healing:
– First, we need to recognize the trauma within ourselves and the trauma within our human collective with full honesty
– Then we need to understand the trauma (where it comes from, what it is, how it got there).
We begin by studying our childhood. Our adolescence. Our entire life. We observe how each traumatic event shaped our behavior, and why so many of our choices were often based in pain.
Then we study the collectively imprinted traumas. We get in touch with the traumatic events that so many generations have experienced. We study the collective loop, and the patterns in the loop, the repetitions. We understand how trauma has shaped so much of our civilization.
And then, ideally we get in touch with the very root trauma. The original event or series of events that started the entire chain of pain. I hope to be able to help in this sense by sharing my own memories of what transpired. Please consult the blog section Our Story for further material about our story (per my own internal remembrance). There are, of course, many others who are sharing their own memories, and there is much research into this topic also, so those who are amnesiac about this, can still get a sense of all the potential scenarios that led to our current condition. Even if we don’t remember the exact scenario, can still come to some informed conclusion, and this can give us the closure to find full healing. This will help us understand why it was even done in the first place.
– We don’t detach from our pain, but instead we dive right into it. We process it. We go into the places that are most painful, most dark, and we confront them. We confront ourselves with honesty, and we honor our trauma, by allowing ourselves to feel it.
– We get in touch with who we are, in our original, natural, non-traumatized state. We get in touch with what we would be if the trauma never happened to us. We remember/envision what a fully joyful, meaningful, free and safe life would look like, and we connect to that passionately.
– We take passionate steps to correct all that is unnatural in our lives. We learn to change the unhealthy behaviors that stem from trauma, from fear, anger, detachment, and bring them into alignment with what is natural. We move more and more towards a life of joy, sovereignty and sacred relationships. We remember to imagine and create past the limited construct of trauma.
– We build healthy boundaries. We respect ourselves and build healthy self-esteem. We define our bottom-lines in a balanced way, and we respect them. We no longer allow further trauma to come into our lives. We know when to put our foot down, and say no to abuse or an invasion of privacy. This, in turn, also allows us to also respect other people’s boundaries also.
– We learn to communicate. To express our pain, to talk about our feelings, about our fears, about our pains. We open up about our struggles, about our healing process.
– We learn to ask for help, and we learn to give support in return also. We learn to truly connect and rely on one another once again. We build the foundations of trustful collaboration again.
In my coming articles, I will study the many mechanisms of healing in much more depth. Thank you for reading and please, always feel free to share back!