3 Ways To Start Understanding Your Trauma

A lot of people don’t realize they are living with psychological trauma.  They suffer for years with symptoms, never knowing the cause.  Even worse, when they keep trying and failing to fix the symptoms, they start blaming themselves. 

I’m Dr. Kathleen Kelly, owner and founder of the Syrona Counseling Retreats.  In this video I’m going to tell you 3 things about psychological trauma I know as a therapist – that you should know too.

First, Psychological trauma is more involved than something feeling “traumatic.”

It’s common to hear people say “I was traumatized” referring to being shocked or upset.  This is understandable since trauma is defined as “a deeply distressing, disturbing experience”.  

Psychological trauma however, is different.  It means there are mind and body disruptions in your ability to process that “deeply distressing, disturbing, experience.”  

In psychological trauma, your brain stores the traumatic experience not as a whole memory, but as separate and distinct body sensations, memories, and reactions. Your nervous system can’t get back to “okay”, and these remnants of trauma lie ready and waiting for anything in your current life to trigger a reactivation. 

This leads to wide-ranging effects that trauma-trained therapists not only notice, but know how to help heal.

Second, With psychological trauma, you are physically living in the present but your body is stuck living in the past.

Your body has an “emergency mode” that helps you respond to threats.  In this state, you can freeze, flee, fight, even fawn (which is a form of appeasing) all in the service of survival.  

It can be physical survival, like trying to get safe, or a more social survival, like not being abandoned, or alone. Ideally, after the danger passes, your body’s emergency mode turns off, and your nervous system returns to its natural balance and equilibrium.  

With psychological trauma, this reset doesn’t happen.  Your body stays in high alert mode. 

There are many reasons for this; maybe the danger doesn’t pass, the traumatic event shocks your body too much, or there isn’t sufficient safety and support for healing.  

Whatever the reason, when your body is stuck in emergency mode, your body is reacting to automatic, internal alarms based on the past instead of letting you be present in the current moment. 

Third, Some personality traits are actually signs of psychological trauma.

Personality questionnaires are fun to fill out aren’t they?  Questions such as:  “I’m the kind of person who________________”.  Fill in the blank. Maybe you fill in statements like “can’t set boundaries”, or “get too angry too quickly.”  

As a therapist, I pay particular attention to statements like these.  Why?  They are potential signs that you are struggling with a “still turned on” emotional alarm system – one that may be responsible for these inflexible aspects of your personality.  

I know that not everyone who can’t set boundaries or gets too angry too quickly has unresolved psychological trauma.  What tips me off is when you understand the issue, and want to stop, but CAN’T. 

Then I know we are up against your body, not just your head.  And this is where trauma lives, in your body.  Trauma is healed not by thinking differently, but by feeling differently.  

So if you “know better” but can’t “do better”, consider attending one of our counseling retreats. We’ll help you take a detailed look at what is going on “under your emotional hood”. 

Trauma can be healed with a qualified guide.   Schedule your counseling retreat today.

Share This Page