Keeping emotions in will never lead to recovery: Get it out and let it go
Trauma, although often buried deep in one’s psyche, can have very real negative effects that linger long after we think the damage is done. These effects include hypervigilance, mistrust, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Trauma that occurs during childhood can have effects that last a lifetime. Children are often thought to be resilient, but childhood trauma makes a child feel helpless, disrupting their sense of safety and security.
Trauma that arises from a previous generation such as a parent or grandparent — referred to as ‘transgenerational’ — often does not end with the individual and instead silently and covertly makes its way into future generations.
Trauma is painful and it is normal to want to bury it deep, hoping that it will go away, or at the very least, stop causing pain and suffering.
But research has shown that the opposite is true. In order to heal trauma, it needs to be brought to the surface and dealt with head on. When it comes to trauma, burying never works; it has to be dealt with head on in order to break the cycle.
Why Trauma Endures
During times of duress, behaviors develop as direct responses to the trauma. These behaviors are designed to minimize pain and protect those who are being harmed. The traumatic events may include abuse (sexual, physical or verbal), domestic violence, an unstable or unsafe environment, separation from a parent, neglect, bullying or other painful events.
But once the threat is gone, these coping behaviors are no longer appropriate. And continuing to use them can potentially harm relationships with family and friends and create an alienating or destructive outlook on life.
Left unresolved, the trauma not only endures into adulthood but can be passed on to future generations.
Feel. Deal. Heal.
In order to truly put trauma into the past, feelings must be brought to the surface and acknowledged (feel), actively spoke of, discussed, and worked through (deal) then reclaimed, and let go (heal).
Some help on how to get there:
- Engage in open and loving communication. Probe deeply with questions like ‘How did it feel?’ ‘How did you cope?’ ‘What have I learned?’
- Don’t be alone; talk with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist
- When dealing with transgenerational trauma, develop empathy and compassion for what that family member went through, versus being angry over how it affected you.
It is not easy to purposefully bring trauma to the surface, but as a trauma survivor, and with enough strength and support, you have the ability to put an end to the trauma cycle, taking control and becoming the boss of your own narrative.