The Wisdom Of Trauma Summary Notes

As I had a pretty happy childhood for a long time I didn’t consider myself the one who needs healing. Personal growth – yes, I was practising meditation for a very long time. But I thought that therapy is for “sick” or “broken” people. 

Only when I “hit the wall” in life, when I realised that there are some “holes” in me I was unconsciously covering with things from outside – achievements, friends, travelling. That’s when I started discovering trauma that requires healing. 

I’m grateful that my life brought me to this journey, that I needed to acknowledge and heal those “holes”, it brought me closer to my essence. Later, I learnt deeper because it became my professional field. But for a non-professional, there is no trauma awareness. And even human-focused professions, like teachers, policemen, doctors are not aware. 

That’s why I’m so happy to observe that this year many celebrities are opening up about their struggles like Lady Gaga, Sia, Britney Spears; books about trauma are becoming bestsellers like “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk and the latest “What Happened to You?” by Dr Bruce Perry & Oprah Winfrey. 

I’m glad that slowly we’re awakening to the idea that the purpose of healing is not to fix what’s broken but to restore wholeness. To look at the person not as a subject with deficiencies and symptoms but as a human being on a journey to their essence. 

And a couple of weeks ago there was a movie plus an online event that deeply touched me, “The Wisdom of Trauma” with my teacher Dr Gabor Mate having conversations with experts in the field.

It was so dear to me, that I decided to share my summary notes in this post.

 

1. Behind epidemics, there is always trauma.

Behind many epidemics of society, like crime, addiction, depression, the rise of physical illnesses like cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases there is always trauma.

It’s time to start asking not only “Why addiction/crime?” but “Why the pain?”; shifting “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”.

All destructive behaviours had their role that helped a person survive trauma’s effects.

 

2. Trauma is what happens inside of you.

“Trauma is not what happens to you. Trauma is what happens inside of you, as a result of what happened to you.”
~ Dr Gabor Mate

There are big T traumas caused by tsunami, death or a killing, or physical, sexual or emotional abuse. But trauma also comes from the absence of things that should have happened, like attunement and connection to the closest caretaker during childhood.

The event can be minor from the adult perspective, but if there were not an attuned parent that was holding space for a child to co-regulate, then the child was left alone to deal with the world.

 

3. Trauma happens in the body.

The physiological state shifts our perspective of the world, and the traumatized nervous system stays in mobilization defensive mode even when there is no danger.
The functioning of the prefrontal cortex changes, we lose response flexibility. Instead of having options to respond to a triggering situation, we are automatically and mechanically driven to behave in a certain way.

Trauma is a fundamental disconnection from yourself, others and the world. From your gut feelings, emotions, values.

Trauma constricts and shapes, limits the worldview. Trauma locks in the past and makes it hard to be present in a moment.

Trauma is NOT the same as emotional pain or suffering. You’re not traumatized after watching a movie or having an argument. Trauma brings actual changes to the body, nervous system and psyche.

4. It’s important for a child to experience safe attachment.

Safe attachment with a regulated parent, who holds them physically and emotionally. So the child can experience love, connection, belonging.

Another fundamental human need is authenticity, it’s a survival need to be connected to gut feeling. The child should be able to express themselves, their truth and feelings. It starts from the experience in the womb and affects all areas of life.

If we help children grow their capacity to be vulnerable, to be wounded, then even when a dangerous event occurs, they will be more likely to deal with it without trauma. An adverse childhood experience, like an unpredictable parent, will put the child into a hypervigilant state.

The brain of a traumatized child is different from non-traumatised. With a lack of safety, the brain will focus on the development of flight, fight, freeze responses, it’s like there is always a thread. Safety is required to develop functions of the brain responsible for social engagement.

 

5. There is an individual trauma and collective.

Trauma goes beyond childhood experience or life experiences later in adulthood whether it’s an accident, war or medical trauma.

The child learns how to respond to situations, forming beliefs from their community. And there is a layer of cross-generational pain, non-healed history of trauma – racial, patriarchy, repression, wars, slavery, holocaust, materialism, that is being passed to next generations and still affects us. Unconscious defensive reactions, pain and limitations are stored in our bodies.

Being aware of a collective trauma helps understand that you’re not a failure, but there is a history. And while wounding is not your fault, it is your freedom and responsibility to heal it.

 

6. A traumatised person is operating as a child, not an adult.

In situations that trigger that trauma response. And they find solutions to numb the pain, to feel peaceful, feel loved in destructive behaviours like alcohol, drugs, but also shopping, over-eating. It’s self-medication that gives temporary release and breaks from that constant inner pain. It’s an attempt to find the lost connection to self and others.

Regardless of the status, healing trauma is a personal journey, you can’t bypass it or buy resolution. It starts with a curiosity – what happened to me in my childhood? What were my solutions – is it a disconnect from emotions? Is it depression? Or using substances?

“What happened to me in my childhood? What were my solutions and coping mechanisms?” 

 

7. Our society needs healing on both levels.

It should happen both at the same time – mostly on an individual level but with a perspective that it’s the result of collective trauma.

It starts with reconnecting to yourself, to your body and to your feelings, with acknowledging trauma – feeling what was unfelt, hidden and suppressed.

It’s time to make society more trauma-informed – school teachers, police, parents, politicians and businessmen.
There are more pandemics right now than COVID-19 – a pandemic of social injustice, misinformation and polarisation, environmental destruction, global separation.

 

8. There are many forms of therapy available.

It’s not enough only to look into one approach that suits everyone or even a group or community. It’s an individual journey.
Science now is finding proof for what has been practised for many indigenous cultures for generations, it largely complements traditional western fields of psychology and psychiatry:

  • The somatic approach is important to release stored energy – breathwork, dancing, singing, playing instruments.
  • Holotropic states – through breathing, psychedelics, sound healing help move beyond what’s available to the therapist.
  • Working with communities and social institutions – families, workplaces, countries, prisons, etc.
  • Reconnecting to nature.
  • And more.

 

 

It starts with ME and YOU.

Right now we have an opportunity to break away from business as usual and shift the way we’re present with our bodies, the way we treat each other in families and communities, the way we treat EARTH as our collective mother.

And it starts with each of us, with me and you. When you heal yourself, you heal the world.
The more you’re connected to your essence, the more you choose the response to situations based on your values and truth, rather than automatically reacting to triggering events.
The less trauma you’ll pass to the next generation.
Regardless of the nature of trauma – whether it comes from childhood, generational, or even past life/ archetypal, healing happens in your body, where you experience it.

Start your journey today >>

 

References and quoted:
The wisdom of Trauma movie and series with Dr. Gabor Maté by Zaya Benazzo, Maurizio Benazzo.

Notes from talks of Gabor Mate with speakers – Resmaa Menakem, Thomas Hübl, Stephen W. Porges, Fritzi Horstman, Nneka Jones Tapia, Gina Perez-Baron, Pat McCabe, Daniel RYNO Herrera, Diane Poole Heller, Esther Perel, Peter A. Levine, Sará King, Angel Acosta, Daniel Siegel, Françoise Bourzat, Rick Doblin, Marcella Ot’alora, Stanislav Grof and others.

 

P.S. If you realised that you have something to heal, even you didn’t have huge events, but maybe you didn’t have enough support in your childhood, maybe you were not held space to express yourself and your feelings, you can book a free consultation call with me, a Holistic Therapist Alsu Kashapova, here >>