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What does emotional trauma mean?

Wat houdt emotioneel trauma in?

An emotional trauma causes you to linger in feelings of fear, sadness, anger and/or loneliness after a traumatic event. This differs for everyone, one person sees a situation as frightening or dangerous, while the other sees nothing in it and deals with it lightly. When we hear the word trauma, we often think of something extremely intense that has happened, but this is usually not the case. In this blog I explain why this is the case, how we can recognize traumas and how we can best deal with them.

The misconception of (emotional) trauma

We often think that trauma only occurs when we have been sexually abused or physically abused, but this is a big misconception. We can develop trauma if we have been told in the past that crying is bad or if we have been made fun of for the way we dress. We then start thinking: 'I'm bad when I cry' or 'I'm weird when I cry'. This makes us feel that we have to ignore parts of ourselves, so that our own identity and humanity may not be there. This has a major impact on our adult lives, especially if many more of our qualities are rejected or labeled as bad.

Trauma permeates our entire culture: in how we function in social relationships, in how we raise and educate children, and in popular culture, economics, and politics. If someone had no traces of trauma, he would be an outsider in our society. - Gabor Maté in: The Myth of Normal.

Trauma continues to exist if we do not dare to look at it, but it becomes difficult to look at it if it is rejected from all sides. This strengthens our trauma and the associated feelings, such as loneliness and fear. In another blog 'Why do I feel so lonely' I explain that rejection by others and ultimately by ourselves ensures that our feeling of loneliness and fear becomes increasingly stronger. Society with its many taboos also has a great impact on us as individuals.

Recognizing traumas

Common symptoms:

- Anxiety, Social anxiety, Panic attacks

- Nightmares, relives

- Feeling powerlessness and helplessness

- Feeling of not belonging, loneliness

- Feeling of being strange or crazy

- Need for certainty and control

- Depression, gloom

- Dissociation (disruption of normal psychological functioning)

- Eating disorders, Sugar addiction, Substance use

- Feelings of shame and self-loathing

We can only recognize traumas when we become aware of the here and now and ourselves. To heal traumas we actually have to be continuously conscious. Since we have accumulated many traumas in our lives, it sometimes seems as if they do not exist because we are not consciously dealing with them. However, when we are confronted with a situation similar to our trauma, everything comes back up. At such times it is important to consciously analyze this and not to suppress it after the event. These moments are actually very important.

The original Greek meaning of the word 'trauma' is 'wound'. Whether we realize it or not, our behavior is largely determined by our injury or how we deal with it. Our social habits are also shaped by it and our worldview is determined by it. It can even determine whether we are even able to think rationally about things that are very important to our lives. Gabor Maté in: The Myth of Normal.

You can analyze in different ways, you can sit down and reflect on what happened or write it down in a journal. For me, writing it down works best, you can then write it down to get a better overview of your situation. Above all, ask yourself questions: What did I feel in this situation? Was I scared, sad or did it make me angry? Why did I feel this? Or did I feel nothing and shut down completely? Did situations or thoughts from the past arise? Did I hear certain negative voices in my head or did I get a certain feeling of unworthiness? For example, did I feel like I wasn't good enough or was I afraid I looked weird?

These types of questions can help you find out why these feelings arise and what the thoughts are about them. Often the cause lies in our upbringing. So it may take some time before you find out where your trauma comes from and what limiting thoughts lie behind it, as it has been ingrained from an early age. However, don't give up, the more often you write in a journal and are more conscious about it, the sooner you can recognize and heal your traumas.

Dealing with our traumas

vos geeft 3 tips om met emotioneel trauma om te leren gaan,

Tip 1: Stop trying to deny your situation.

It is important to take an honest look at our lives. We often deny many aspects of ourselves and are not honest with ourselves. For example, we justify the fact that someone talked us down or made fun of us. As a result, we go along with the stories that others tell about us, instead of taking an honest look at ourselves. If we don't stop this, our traumas will stay with us and shape our lives for the rest of our lives. It is therefore important to look at ourselves honestly and realistically. If others gossip about us or have a problem with us and cannot express it normally, that says something about them, not about us. It is very important to recognize this so that we can love ourselves more and realize that we never have to be ashamed of ourselves.

Tip 2: Stay consciously aware of your traumas.

As I've said before, try to stay aware of your traumas. This can be done by sitting quietly for a moment or writing it down in a journal. It is important not to want to get rid of the traumas, but rather to approach them with a questioning and open attitude. When you do this the first few times, it will feel very awkward and perhaps even strange, but as you do this more often you will see that it is actually a relief. Traumas, just like emotions, want to be heard and seen. You can do this by asking yourself questions and shifting your focus to body parts where you experience a lot of tension or other emotions, for example. If you really want to learn to accept, then the book: 'Radical Acceptance' is definitely recommended. This book has helped me enormously to process my own traumas.

Tip 3: Break habits and relationships that keep you stuck in trauma.

If we change ourselves, but our environment remains just as toxic, we can never change completely. Sure, it's largely up to us to change, but in a non-stimulating environment it's almost impossible to truly change. For example, it will be very difficult to be honest if we are scolded or talked down to when we make a mistake. That is why it is important if people have a lot of negative impact on us to say goodbye to them or at least reduce contact. Habits are also important to review, perhaps due to a trauma you have become so afraid to give your own opinion that you start to please everyone. This fear in turn maintains your trauma. It is therefore important to look at the feelings underlying your habits. The more we address these, the greater the chance of being able to say goodbye to our traumas.


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