Some Insights on Trauma
This weekend I attended Gabor Maté’s online seminar called The Wisdom of Trauma.
Yeah, that’s how I roll.
If you haven’t come across this man yet, do yourself a favour and check him out.
I’ve read two of his books ‘In the realm of Hungry Ghosts’ an almost painful but fascinating look at addiction and ‘When the body says no’, how disease manifests in the body as a result of choosing attachment and role playing over authenticity.
I am particularly interested in his Compassionate Inquiry approach to healing and evolving past stuck patterns of reaction that keep us repeating the same experiences over and over again. I’m also particularly interested in his work on authenticity, as many of you know, I wrote my own book and created a simple system that gets us in touch with and then expressing the true authentic self. It’s simple and Gabor says the same thing; you have to feel the feelings, there’s wisdom in them, they will tell you what is right, what is appropriate, what is good for you. Health-wise, relationship-wise, work -wise, even what to eat/say/do in that very moment-wise.
These were my key learnings during the seminar which I’m happy to share with you
1. Trauma is not something that happens to you, but rather something that happens inside of you as a result of what happened to you. In other words, it’s the meaning you attach to it that either makes it traumatic or not. So one person’s trauma is another person’s non-event, which puts more responsibility on us which is empowering. It doesn’t excuse the perpetrator if there was one, but the focus becomes you and your relationship to the trauma. Only then does healing become possible.
2. It’s not that important to know exactly what caused the trauma; a lot of people experience strong reactions to things/situations/people and have a sense that something happened a long time ago (usually in childhood) and knowing what exactly just adds to the story, but doesn’t necessarily heal it. The focus then is the present and how to deal now.
3. We all mostly suck at saying no to the right things and yes to really dumb things in order to maintain attachments to people and beliefs. Often the people and the beliefs are not worth the sacrifice in authenticity. So often. Like almost always. Not saying No to things hurts our health and happiness in a profoundly catastrophic way.
4. Our gut will tell us what to do. How do we distinguish gut feeling from fear ? I found this interesting because sometimes I feel so much fear before doing something that I confuse that with a gut feeling that’s saying ‘Stop being a baby and do it’. Here’s how:
- Gut Feeling is calm and comes with a sense of knowing
- A Strong feeling is where tension is present
5. Just because you’re upset about something doesn’t mean you’re experiencing trauma. Learn the difference.
6. Safety can only exist in the presence of connection. (Not the presence of people or a person necessarily).
7. We sacrifice authenticity a lot of the time for attachment. In other words, we act counterintuitively to what we want because we believe that’s what it will take to maintain the relationship. If that’s what you’re doing, you need to take a cold, hard look at that relationship. The good ones, like your actual friends and loved ones will love you anyway. The ones that are invested in your role, will most likely leave. Great! Now you can hopefully focus on the ones that love you; worts, madness and all. (Ok have the worts taken care of, no one needs to love those J
8. Acting in the moment is different to being in the moment. Punching the person who’s riding their bike on the foot path in the wrong direction is not ‘authentic in the moment’. If you were truly in the moment, you mostly likely would not be punching strangers. It’s a skill that needs to be learned and trained. (Present Moment awareness, not punching)
9. Spiritual giants can be emotional infants! He spoke a lot of spiritual bypassing. Basically, you can follow a spiritual path but you HAVE to be prepared to do the emotional work as well. It’s not enough to connect with the oneness of being at the expense of relationship and emotional healing. Thank You Gabor, it explains the many many Yoga gurus molesting their students. They haven’t done the emotional work. I had to check myself with this too. (The spiritual bypassing, not the molesting) and I was a little surprised to realise how I had used ideas of independence, autonomy, wholeness and connection to consciousness as a way to avoid intimate relationships. If you want to see how spiritually evolved you are? Fall in love and then have a relationship past 3 months with that person.
10. If you put your guilt onto your kids, you are not seeing them. You make it about you and you give them no credit. Kids need to be seen by you, exactly as they are. Non-perfect emotional messes too. (Yes, even your kids)
11. Guilt is not a bad thing. It’s nothing to be afraid of. There’s a place for healthy remorse but guilt as a result of saying NO can stay, and be held for the moment /time that it’s there. If it’s a choice between guilt and resentment, choose guilt every time because resentment will kill your soul. Shame is something else, shame comes at the loss of connection. It’s something none of us should’ve felt, but perhaps we did and that needs healing. It needs reconnection.
12. I learnt that my work in emotional competence laid out in my book Magnificently Real and the work I do around authenticity is more important than ever.