After working with me regularly for several months, many people tell me “I used to think you were overdoing it the way you keep bringing everything back to trauma. Now I get it.”
Looking through this lens helps us to let go of judgment and allows space for compassion. We become better able to set boundaries around hurtful behavior. We don’t personalize other people’s thoughts and reactions. We are steadier on our own two feet.
“The nervous system expects and craves reciprocal, synchronous interactions. We’re wired for that. Safety involves connection, not just a lack of danger. A child experiences a lack of connection as threatening.” trauma expert Dr Gabor Maté
It never occurred to me to think about my childhood as traumatic. I was raised in a family without violence or addiction. We were housing and food secure. I now understand that emotional neglect is included as traumatic because of the result – we feel disconnected and without value.
Trauma experts like Dr Gabor Mate have given us a new lens through which to understand our lives. We don’t “act out” because we are bad. We use whatever we have at hand to seek connection and escape the desperate feelings of being not enough and of being harmed. It could be the oblivion of food, alcohol or other drugs. The heady power-over of one up-man-ship and other forms of bullying. We devote ourselves to socially sanctioned addictions like work. We are like heat seeking missiles for approval.
Some people grow up with a basic sense of belonging and that’s wonderful! They live in the world with trust, healthy brain development and a sense of their own value. It is NOT too late for the rest of us. Our brains are neuroplastic, which means they develop based on our experience. There are many ways to heal trauma and develop resilience.
Last year for the Radical Recovery Summit, I interviewed Dr Rick Hanson. He just released a new book Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakeable Core of Calm Strength and Happiness.
Watch my interview with him for the 2017 Radical Recovery Summit