Amongst the waves of personal development and striving to be your best self, I feel exploring our shadows and choosing to see our trauma, as an asset is a part of this.
I also feel that, as a disclaimer, like all my writings and episodes, I am just one opinion, one perspective, and for me, honouring my soul and expressing my thoughts and experiences is how I feel I can serve and help millennials live at a higher level. And so, what I’m saying in this blog may be of little value and you may dismiss me and say “you have no idea” and that’s fine, I don’t. I’m just speaking from my experience and trying to beam a little idea into you in the endeavour of helping you aka I’m not offended if you tell me to fuck off haha.
We tend to want to ignore the negatives, ignore the shadows, think our way into happiness. When, as much as its scary, its about showing up, with all your shit, good and bad, and being like “cool, so this is me” and just being who you are. Just as amazing moments make our lives, so do the dark, hard moments in our lives.
We all experience trauma on varying levels, whether it was this one time you fell over in front of everyone in primary school or whether you were abused in relationships, it’s all still trauma. One persons trauma is not superior or inferior to another’s, because in the body, in the emotional body, and in the psyche it’s all the same – trauma.
Trauma’s defined as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience”.
In the brain, trauma triggers the stress response – because it is a stress, and thus, we experience the cascade of a stress response throughout the body.
The key areas of the brain that are stimulated by trauma and stress are
1. The Amygdala
2. The Hippocampus
3. The Pre-Frontal Cortex
Studies show that trauma can create “lasting changes” in these brain areas, essentially carving out a neural pathway that is imbedded into us, and can be triggered and tapped into at any moment via a thought, memory, association, and is accompanied by emotion.
Each time we revisit or are reminded of the trauma, BAM, the neurons fire, we experience the biological stress of the trauma all over again and thus, put ourselves into a stress state – fight of flight, cortisol and adrenaline are released, shutting down our immune system and impacting our gut health, energy, vitality and wellbeing (it’s ALL connected).
We talk so much about stress because it is such a key player in the game of life. If we want to be thriving millennials, we need to learn to manage our stressors and choose our stressors (hormetic stressors such as cold showers, polyphenols and exercise).
Trauma sees an over-active amygdala – located in the most primitive part of our brain, and a decrease in activity in our pre-frontal cortex, the ‘newest’ part of the brain developed, involved with decision making, rationale, problem solving, etc. And influences the hippocampus which is involved in involuntary movements, such as breathing, digestion and hormone signalling.
Trauma impacts these key three systems. And being a human is crazy, because we can prod this response, when we think. When we revisit a memory, or we re-experience a trigger (such as an anniversary, a scent, an image etc) that is associated with the trauma that’s not been acknowledged, we are flooded with the outcome of this neural pattern.
So how can we help to heal and release these patterns and pain?
We gotta honour it. Not bury it. Bring it to the surface, let it be seen, give it light – because in the light is how we’re able to work through and embrace the trauma and pain. It’s the yin tang symbol is so epic. There’s the light with the circle of darkness, and the darkness with the circle of light, each need the other to be fully hole – it gives us perspective and the full spectrum that is being a human being.
- We can’t see light without dark and vice versa –
So rather than ignoring or trying to think our way out of trauma and the pain, emotions and wounds it’s beared for us. We flip it.
We put on our stoic cape and realise its happened FOR us, not TO us. It is an obstacle in this game of life that was destined for us. It’s part of our story, it doesn’t define our story, but it’s a chapter in our life book.
I know for me, I always thought it was “weird” that I truly feel my Mums death was the best thing that ever happened for me. Like probably definitely an unconscious coping mechanism that I just put in place, and yes it hurts, and yes its shitty sometimes, but on the other end of the spectrum, my god was it a blessing. It enabled the space for me to grow and be who I am and the trauma helped to build me. It gave me a greater perspective, it made me resilient, it made me go inside and find my identity, and all these are fucking powerful attributes and skills to obtain in the game of life. It makes us a warrior. It makes us able to reach the next level.
I feel trauma gives a taste of darkness, so that we’re able to hold the light and appreciate it so much more. And I feel perspective is a fundamental key of living a bomb ass life, and the best part - we’re able to train our mind to see an alternative perspective.
It’s cultivating a growth mindset, that it’s “not this happened and that’s it” it’s “this happened and…” look for the opportunity to shift and build something from a shit situation.
This bleeds into the victim mentality, in that when trauma occurs, we sometimes go into a default mode of victimisation and blame. It’s us trying to make sense of a situation, and thus, if we’re not mindful and curious, we see the trauma as happening to us, and we’re out of control. We didn’t ask for it, we didn’t want it, we had no choice, and thus, we label ourselves a victim and this is how we show up in the world.
When we’re living through our victim self deprecating stories, we look for or create ways to affirm this, and this manifests into all aspects of our lives, particularly relationships – work, friends, family, lovers, whatever, we look for how to continue this story of self, and thus, continue living out the same patterns, unaware of the continuance of the trauma and how it lives out in our present lives.
We may also just have passively consumed victimisation, based upon how we were treated, and just don’t know any different. It may not have been “an event” but a time period. And it’s so embedded into our knowing, that we’ve normalised it, and just expect and thus, look for, life to reaffirm our normalcy and familiar surroundings and experiences.
We create a limiting belief that stems from being a victim. It becomes part of our identity and in order to continue living, as our ego and identity are intrinsically lovers, we look for situations to re-affirm our identity, because we hate change. The ego doesn’t want you to evolve, because that means letting go and killing a part of ourselves and our ego likes where he’s at. And it’s not until we step outside of the unconscious patterns we live in, that we see, what’s potentially going on inside, that’s keeping us in these patterns of pain, fear, loss, and sadness.
To dive deeper into how to transmute and give light to our trauma, there’s somatic healing a type of psychotherapy that infuses holistic healing and encompasses the mind and body as one.
“Soma” also means living body (also the technical word for a biological human cell haha)
Because when we revisit traumatic memories, we evoke an emotional and thus, physical response, and so, tuning into where the energy and pain is coming from, gives us the ability to release the energy and pain – because we’re creating awareness around it. And when we become aware - we become conscious, we then bring ourselves and the trauma into the present where we’re able to acknowledge and explore and create space between it being “part of us” and “being part of us?” If that makes sense. Like when we create awareness, we create space, we’re able to look at it from a different perspective, one that is not us, but a distant us. We’re not identified or attached to the trauma, we can see it from a distance, taste and feel it, but it’s not inside of us, unconscious and without our awareness.
And then utilising bodily practices, such as breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, dance, movement, teamed with expressive acts such as talking, journaling, And that’s just ONE example of some powerful healing shit right thurrrrrr.
So to conclude,
How does your trauma build you as a person, how does it strengthen your soul, how does it give you perspective, how does your darkness enable the light to seep through.
One love xxxxx
Further epic resources:
The Obstacle is the Way - Ryan Holiday
Mindset - Carol Dweck
Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink
Claim Your Power – Mastin Kipp
A New Earth – Eckart Tolle
Aubrey Marcus Podcast episode #169 w/ Erick Godsey
Tom Bilyeu – Impact Theory
Sabrina Riccio – The Sovereign Society Podcast
Bremmer, D 2006, ‘Traumatic stress: effects on the brain’, Dialogues Clin Neurosci, vol. 8, no. 4, pp: 445-461, retrieved 18th September 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181836/