Why It’s Worth Dealing with Unresolved Trauma

Unresolved trauma is like your body’s secret control center – it operates behind the scenes, yet impacts your life on a daily basis.

It disrupts sleep patterns, haunts dreams, underlies anxiety and depression, creates triggers, and in general, keeps your body in a chronic state of high alert. It is one of the most common reasons people seek out counseling.

Hi, I’m Fae Foster, a therapist at Syrona Counseling Retreats. In this article, I’ll share why unresolved trauma could be unknowingly affecting you and why it is so valuable to work towards healing.


Unresolved trauma is not always obvious


Dealing with past trauma is daunting- scary even. You may know it’s there and don’t want to touch it, or you have compartmentalized your past history so well you don’t realize your trauma story is running your nervous system.

Either way, it takes courage to face it. And, many clients don’t initially identify trauma as the reason they are coming to therapy.

They often feel that they have moved on from their painful past, but are coming to therapy because of repeated patterns in their relationships. Can you relate? Do you keep getting involved with the same “type” over and over again?

These relationship struggles often have roots in your past trauma, but are so cleverly cloaked it’s not obvious.

Painful childhood relationships, especially with parents, serve as the first template for our adult relationships. Without you knowing, they affect your core beliefs about what love is, how it feels, and whether it is secure or not. In other words, it affects your attachment style.


Trauma influences how we attach


In an ideal world, every infant has all its needs met, consistently and dependably. These lucky infants move into childhood with messages from the adults around them that they are safe, they matter, and they belong.

These fortunate children don’t fear abandonment, abuse, judgment, or rejection. They end up with what we call secure attachment. When these children grow up, they usually assume good intent from others, so they easily trust.

And, perhaps most importantly, if others don’t treat them well, these individuals recognize it, don’t like it, and don’t accept it. They develop into adults with good boundaries and insist on being treated like they matter- because they have their own internal belief that they do.

If you are like many people, you did not experience such an ideal childhood. Maybe your early life left important needs unmet, or the adults around you were unable to provide the stable and dependable support you needed to feel safe.

If so, you would have moved into survival mode – which is your body’s natural protection against psychological overwhelm. Survival mode uses defense mechanisms like denial, projection, and intellectualization in order to cope. These defenses act like psychological glue – they become personality traits that feel natural to you, like avoiding risk, seeking out attention, shutting down in conflict – among many others.

Whatever you did, you were adapting to your unique life experience – but the cost of this adaptation is high. Issues with low self-esteem, addiction, anxiety, depression, and relationships are common.

Especially issues related to trust. Unresolved trauma can leave you looking at people through the lens of mistrust, because in your experience others could not be trusted to be there. This creates fears around love and connection, which develops into either an anxious or avoidant attachment style.

Anxious attachment is when your needs are inconsistently met so you are left always unsure about someone’s availability for you. You never feel really settled or safe when in connection with another person because you’re not sure they will stay engaged. You “over-focus” on other people’s needs (like people pleasing) and might have fears of abandonment, rejection, and a strong need for reassurance.

Like anxious attachment, avoidant attachment happens when your needs aren’t met, but in this case, the adaptation is to shut the unmet needs down. You turn them off.

This leads to becoming independent too early – like being overly self-reliant and uncomfortable asking for help. You also may feel suffocated, controlled, or even disgusted by other people’s needs or efforts to connect.

Whichever path your nervous system chose, it did it automatically, as a smart adaptation to your life circumstances.

It is no surprise then that struggles with attachment are often at the core of the issues driving people to seek out an individual intensive therapy retreat.


If you think you struggle with anxious or avoidant attachment and would like to find your way to having a secure attachment in your relationships, contact us.

We would love to talk with you to explore how a Syrona counseling retreat can help.


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