We’ve all been through a lot in the last year. And for many of us, the stress, anger and sadness will stay with us for a long time, affecting who we are as people, how we interact with each other, and how we move through the world. We are all formed as people by the experiences we have in our lives, the good and the bad ones. When we are hurt, it can often manifest in fears, opinions and behaviours that just don’t serve us. We are all imperfect works in progress.
We hear the word “Trauma” a lot. Some of us are in the middle of one right now. But do we really understand what trauma is? We spoke to the gorgeous Karen Whelan AKA The Soulution Therapist, who is a true expert, not just because she studied trauma, but because she has lived through it too.
Karen, what is trauma? Explain it in simple terms for us?
Hi all, sure, trauma is what happens within us because of what happens to us. Trauma is unexpressed grief, that remains stuck – in therapy, we call it internalised suffering.
Does everyone experience trauma in the same way?
No, but you and I can be part of the same experience but how we both deal with that trauma will differ greatly. Why? Because our meaning-making is different. Our cognitive (thinking) process will differ. I interpret the world differently, this doesn’t mean I am weaker or less than you, it just highlights our uniqueness as human beings – making sense of our experiences.
How does trauma affect the rest of our lives?
Trauma, if unhealed, will shrink our self-esteem and hold us as victims to our own story. This will result in us playing victims our whole life. I say this with huge compassion because we do this, completely unaware that we are actually doing it. These are the “I am not good enough, I can’t do this. If they see the true me they’ll reject me. I am unloveable. No one cares” beliefs that keep us in fear mode and holds us in states of anxiety.
As I said Trauma is what happens inside of us.
For example, I was bullied and therefore I believed it was my fault. It must be me because it can’t be them. So there’s something wrong with me. As a result, I had massive anxiety around people. I began people-pleasing and lived in a state of emotional discomfort. Yes, the bullying was the event that hurt me, but what remained happening within me, was my self-belief of “I am not good enough “. It kept me disempowered, small and afraid of life. This did not change until I took responsibility for my hurt and spoke to a therapist, which helped me understand myself more. The more you understand yourself, the better you can take care of yourself!
What can we do to help ourselves to heal from trauma?
Be so so kind to yourself and know we are all here to have a human experience, but the story we tell ourselves within will shape how we see and experience the world. Your emotions are your body’s wisdom communicating to you, so don’t run from discomfort or uncomfortable feelings. Trust the wisdom and remember that all emotions are like children, once we connect to them and relate to them, they actually soften and become lighter.
If you feel too shy to talk it out, journal your feelings or voice record your messages and delete them. Instead of asking “why me“, trust you are a warrior and a powerful person who can do this, so ask “what is this situation or person showing me? Maybe I have fear in me needing support, or worry or negative thoughts “.
How can we support those we love when they have been traumatised?
We all have a beautiful need to be seen and accepted for who we are. Sitting in a space of patience and being non-judgemental gives others permission to feel safe to share their pain. Remember we all experience an event or situation uniquely, so what doesn’t seem a big deal to one person, might be someone’s else’s nightmare. My truth is my truth and your truth is yours, we are entitled to our truth of the experience.
Where can people follow you to learn more about this stuff?
I am on Instagram under @The.Soulution.Therapist. I’m called Soulution because my soul can feel the story of others and find the Soulutions. Or go to my website and subscribe to my blogs.
Please feel free to reach out on either Instagram or the website www.soulutiontherapist.com
We don’t know about you, but we are so glad to have Karen in our SHONA Community! It’s mad to think of how many phenomenal women are on this little Island of ours! Stay tuned to see who else we got chatting to!
P.S. If you have a suggestion of who you would like us to chat to next and have some burning questions, why not let us know on any of our socials ( @shonadotie ) or pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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