Understanding Trauma

2 min read

The mental health landscape is slowly shifting tides and coming around to the idea that life, by its very nature, is traumatic in so many ways. And as humans, we are somewhat primed to be traumatized as a result of our innate and evolutionary mechanisms of defense. In so many words, trauma lifts the veil. It tells us that life is just that….life! And that it can be painful as hell. 

The thing is, while we can’t control the life that’s outside of us, we oftentimes do have a role in the life that’s inside of us. Trauma oftentimes hardens us to the love and connection that we crave so deeply but through our processing of it, we recognize that the suffering that it offers is the key to our awakening. I find this so crucial to the healing path that I wanted to share some trauma fundamentals - to hopefully motivate you to take agency over the things that require it.

So buckle up, and make way for your own healing. 

  1. Trauma can describe any experience in your life that has exceeded your emotional capacity to cope.
  2. Trauma details the experience of an event, and not the event itself. Let that one sit for a second. You know that measuring stick that you use to gauge your experience against someone else’s? You know the one. It sounds like, “well, I guess I’ve been through some stuff but I’ve never dealt with rape or a terrible car accident.” Yes, that one. That’s your measuring stick. And it speaks to you through your ego, that little voice in your head. Ironically, it’s the same ego that wants to try to keep you safe by turning you away from the exact pain you need to confront. Sneaky lil’ ego, isn’t it? When we start to understand that trauma has to do with our own subjective experience of something, our healing path starts to reveal itself. 
  3. While PTSD can be the result of trauma, suffering from a trauma does not mean that you have PTSD. Remember that PTSD is a post-traumatic disorder of stress. In other words, it describes how our tolerance level to stress becomes manipulated as a result of emotional overwhelming experiences. In other words, your body and mind continue to protect you 
  4. While trauma takes place in the brain, it stores itself in the body. Your body is an arsenal of past experiences. It’s a book where each chapter chronicles a year in your life. If a trauma happens in chapter 3, you can consider chapter 3 unfinished, and if chapter 3 is unfinished, it’s going to be really hard to make sense of chapter 4. You get the idea. Trauma shapes us through our physiology and through the sensations that the mind brilliantly learns to avoid.  Trauma processing in therapy involves learning how to tolerate these exact sensations. 

If you would like to learn more about trauma and would like to get aligned with your own healing path, please reach out. Your life might depend on it. 

About Ali Haji

Ali Haji is a graduate from Northwestern University’s Family Institute, holding a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He specializes in complex trauma recovery, LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapy, LGBTQIA+ and heterosexual domestic violence recovery, LGBTQIA+ identity issues, spiritual identity integration, meditation and mindfulness, and cultural family issues. Ali believes in any human’s capacity to find inner strength through radical acceptance of who they authentically are, all identities aside.

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