My definition of trauma is being stuck in the state of powerlessness,
which I believe happens to be the most dangerous state one can experience.
Today we're talking about trauma, so let's get some core things out of the way.
First, there are many common misconceptions about trauma and the one I want to mention here is the belief that there needs to be a big life-threatening event in order for trauma to occur. More specifically, it is commonly believed that the circumstances of the event that causes trauma are always externally-driven, meaning that they comes from the outside (via another person or something happening in the environment).
Here's what is actually true: It is in fact completely irrelevant whether the event that caused trauma is big or small. It is also completely irrelevant whether the threat was real or perceived (i.e. was interpreted by a person as real).
And here is another very important piece of information about trauma: Trauma can result from ANY situation in which a person is DENIED their dignity, agency and personal power.
Whenever there is abuse of power, trauma can ensue. Whenever there is a violation to whole sovereign self, trauma can ensue. Whenever there is a breach to one's ability to exercise personal rights or personal boundaries, trauma can ensue. Whenever a person is denied respect or the experience of personal worth, trauma can ensue.
There is a distinct and intimate relationship between trauma and power. The loss of power is the doorway to possible trauma. Whenever a person loses his or her power, trauma can enter. Whenever a person is denied their power, trauma can enter. Whenever a person gives their power away, trauma can enter.
And here's another piece of news...We do not always lose our power and it is not always taken from us. Sometimes we give our power away and, in doing so, we ourselves participate in opening the doorway to trauma.
One of the ways in which this works is that whenever we turn away from the source of our fear, we DENY our personal power (i.e. our ability to affect change). We deny our agency, our choices and the fact that our actions can make a difference. We shrink and move away and, in doing so, we confirm for our brains and our bodies that whatever we have just turned away from was indeed very dangerous.
It is a particular challenge to hold onto personal power in the face of trauma. In not owning personal power, it is also hard to hold onto personal responsibility. Sometimes it is easier to point the finger at someone else or make someone else responsible for our troubles, but I can assure you with utmost certainty that taking that path will always lead to more pain, more invisibility and more debilitating powerlessness.
THE ACT OF TURNING AWAY IS ALWAYS A DESTRUCTIVE ACT. It is always a betrayal and it always leads to more disconnects.
So let's consider doing something different.
When Trauma is Teacher and Power is Potent Medicine.
Healing from trauma is nothing more than reconnecting with and reclaiming personal power.
Trauma teaches us about the state of powerlessness, which is by far the most dangerous state to experience. The reason for that is because powerless always denotes the denial of capable, good and worthy self. Powerlessness dehumanizes and it destroys. When powerlessness is unconscious, it acts out in all kinds of painful ways towards others and the person feeling it.
Powerlessness leads to helplessness and chronic helplessness leads to invisibility and paralysis. My definition of paralysis is being stuck in the state of powerlessness. This happens to also be my definition for trauma.
To heal from trauma is to heal the deep disconnect with personal power. To heal that disconnect is to CLAIM RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONE SELF.
Trauma tests our ability to call our power back. It offers us the possibility of claiming our power and our dignity and our capacity to hold steady and to protect our sovereign and whole selves.
Anyone who is comfortable and at home in embodying their power and who also knows that with great power comes great responsibility is a TRUE LOVE WARRIOR.
The MAIN TASK OF THE LOVE WARRIOR is not to identify with the beliefs and the teachings of Trauma.
Without identifying with Trauma's oppressive nature, we are invited to reconnect with our choices because, believe me, if Trauma were given full license to act on our behalf, things would be dire. We must decide to do better on our behalf!
Without identifying with Trauma, we are invited to return to what we all already know to be our true nature and that is to be in movement and to flow with whatever presents itself on our path instead of recoiling or becoming paralyzed.
Without identifying with Trauma, we are invited to claim our lives and own our stories as something that makes us distinctly and uniquely us. No shame. No hiding.
In the next article "Growing the Parent. Healing the Child. Liberating the Adult", more on ways to break from the binds of trauma by cultivating personal power, healing internal disconnects and choosing life.
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Until next time, please be well!