I was talking to a friend about a book that I currently read and about the childhood trauma part, when that realization came to me;
Something 'bad' that happened, cut us too deep, and left scars within us, is not a trauma. It was just another less favourable events of life.
What then turns it into a traumatic experience was our reaction. We avoided what we felt at that moment with all cost, for whatever reason we had back then. And mostly, we believed at that time, that what happened to us was the end of everything in our lives. It is natural that anything we surpressed so hard, eventually left deeper marks, blown worse, and became traumatic for us.
So, if we could change that perceptions and re-establish our reactions towards any less favourable event, we could prevent on creating another traumatic experience in our lives, and we could actually speed-up any healing process towards our past traumas.
In other words, we could prevent any trauma to build, or heal our old traumas, by shifting our perceptions and changing the way we deal with anything that happen in our lives.
Many would argue that they won't be able to think or analize anything deeply when something so heartbreaking and emotional, happens.
But, based on my experiences, we always have that 'moment' of decision making, or pause time during our shock, or something that we call as a 'blank-mind' moment, which actually wasn't blank at all. It was a short moment when we try to process the information we just received, and the mind was basically asking us “what should I do?”
I read a research somewhere years ago on babies and kids' behaviourals, where some babies cry after they fell down, while some others didn't. Turns out, babies don't cry straight away after they fell down. Instead, they look at their most emotionally-bonded person around them first, and watch their (adult) reactions towards the event (they fell down).
The babies who cried, usually have their parents (or siblings, nanny, or any emotionally-bonded closest person around) panicked, afraid, worried, or any other difficult emotional displayed on their faces. This signaled to the babies that something was wrong, and their first reaction was to cry.
The babies who didn't cry, usually have their emotionally-bonded person chill. Some parents would just smiled and told them that it's alright. This signaled to the babies that they were safe, and it was natural to fall down. They then didn't cry at all and just tried to stand up again.
Similar to the babies, we also have that short moment to analize. That was the moment before we react such as cried, shout, yell, angry, or even faint. And yes, we actually know how that initial information that we received, will make us feel. We just don't know what to do with it. And well, it is fair to say that to adult like us, the complication of feelings and process might be less simpler than what happened on the babies.
What we can do to hijack our reaction on those short moments are only two; take a deep breath as much as we could, and allow (not avoiding) what we feel to flow at any circumstance and any condition that we are facing.
Yes, we acknowledge that it will hurt. That is terrible. That will tear us apart. That will change everything. And we are in deep sadness and pain, yes.
Cry if we must. Shout and curse if we have to. Punch the wall and fall to the ground, or lock ourselves alone if we need to. But when that pain strikes us hard, don't fight it. Just take our time and let it flow.
When the storm of pain and sadness have settled down a bit, try to make ourselves understand that what happened was never the end of everything in our lives. Nothing is always as good or as bad as it seems.
It surely hurts and was devastating, but time will always heal. What had happened did, and will change many things in our lives, but so does everything else that happens in life. Life does bound to changes, it is the essence of life; to change (evolve). Everything that has happened, was everything that should happen, in either ways.
Next, what could we do to heal the past trauma?
Always know that emotions and memories behave like waves. They come and go. Sometimes they come slowly like a small wave, while some other times, we could surf on top of them; the big waves. No matter how big and small, they come and go, and will pass eventually. So, don't avoid or ignore them. Instead, accept and try to understand them.
We couldn't heal what we feel untill we resolve and heal the experiences. And by resolve and heal the experiences, doesn't mean that we re-write what has happened, instead we re-write our narrative and the way we perceive it.
Write down on a blank paper:
Each trauma that happened in our whole lives that we still remember, or still makes our hearts wrench. Who said what, what happened, how, etc in details – with a black pen. This is the fact section.
Write down how did we exactly feel at that time on each given situation. Be very honest and open. Afterall, this is only for you to read.– This is the hard emotion section, write it with red pen.
Then, write down the healing section with a blue pen. How do we actually feel now about that particular point or topic? Does the fact still matter to us? Does it still affect us? What could we do differently, should we deal with similar situation someday in the future? What can we do now to make this experience better for us? What did we gain from this?
This process will give us clear understanding of what happened, how did we feel, and how do we actually feel about them now. It will give some clarity that is needed to see things fairly.
This process doesn't change those experiences, doesn't erase our memories, or make them less valid than they should be. However, this gives them and ourselves some proper space and respect needed, to continue our earned lives through better directions.
*Please note that I'm not an expert on psychology or trauma matters. What I wrote here was only based on my understanding and experiences, mostly for my personal use. Please do reach to the experts and professionals for a better outcome, proper techniques, and formal results.