In conducting a Trauma training in Texas for criminal justice professionals, I became aware that I was preaching to the choir. Most everyone in the room was familiar with trauma’s impact on the people they serve. But as the days went on, their own experience with trauma was revealed, and it gave us all new perspectives.
What was most profound is that trauma is often the unseen factor that motivates people to pull themselves up to do more with their life. This contrasts with the focus on the suffering and self-sabotaging behavior that trauma provokes and offers implications on how trauma can ultimately lead to positive growth and personal development.
Let me review some of the details we discussed and see if it gives you new perspectives on trauma that you may have experienced and how it can lead to positive change.
Own Your Experience
It was eye opening to realize that many people have experienced trauma, yet it’s so ingrained in the fabric of their life that it often goes unrecognized and ignored. For many it’s an iceberg in their life, mostly beneath water.
One of the startling results of recent research has been the recognition that trauma is equally experienced by men and women. despite male’s tendency to under report*. Given It is more pervasive than we know and often goes unreported, are you acknowledging your own? The starting point to any change is recognizing the impact of your own experience and really owing it. Not as a victim, but as a survivor.
Understand Trauma’s Effects
Trauma comes in many forms – think about it – there is trauma from the natural disasters of hurricanes , tornadoes and flooding, to abuse, neglect, violence, poverty, military service, accidents, loss, bullying, prejudice, immigration, vicarious trauma from exposure and impact from the historical trauma of slavery, ethnic cleansing and genocide. It is everywhere around us in single and on-going events showing up with a myriad of effects and symptoms.
The effects can manifest as mental health symptoms, substance abuse problems and behavioral issues. This includes symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety and flashbacks, to alcohol or drugs use to dull the memories, to high risk behaviors and court involvement. These problems do not have to be the end of the story. They can be the beginning, for recovery is always possible, providing the catalyst for powerful and profound change.
Accept Trauma Differences
Another important concept is understanding that everyone’s experience with trauma is uniquely their own and different from others. There is no single template for response or recovery. It’s important not to judge others or yourself. Most of all, don’t compare yourself to others, instead be inspired by what’s possible.
Fully appreciate your own experience and face it. Understand its impact on you and what it means within the pattern of your life. What I’m recognizing is most people have a story and for many it’s a significant part of why they got to where they are today. How has your trauma shaped your life and where do you want to go with it now? You are in process!
Learn From It and Address It
Part of waking up is knowing that everything you’ve lived through has a purpose. That may seem counter intuitive if you’ve had many difficult experiences, but if you look at it from the ”big picture perspective”, from your place of wisdom, you will see how it’s provided many important life lessons and has very much shaped the person you are now – likely for the better.
What are those lessons and where are you with them today? We are always in process, and there are always new ways to learn and grow. How can you take the trauma you’ve had and use it to fuel increased compassion, desire to serve, and motivation to help others? Stop hiding your story, use it to help motivate yourself and others be stronger and heal.
I realized in this training that my own trauma history is very much at the heart of what I do today. It is something to be proud of, not to hide. As many people in the training began to reveal their story too, it was clear that owning and claiming your personal history and its effects can be part of your path to being strong, committed and passionate about who you are and what you do. Everyone is different, celebrate where you are today and recognize how you want to continue to learn and grow. Trauma can be your unseen motivator, as it’s been for so many others.
Recognizing the impact of trauma and working with it as a foundation that helps you claim your gifts and your potential is a hallmark of my work as a Transformational Life Coach and Therapist. If you want to explore this for yourself, reach out www.spectrumtransformation.com and use my Free Consultation link to reach me. I’d love to hear from you!
*SAMHSA offers a wealth of resource information on trauma – explore their links. https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/trauma