Accepting Traumatic Experiences

Hello my Zebras and Spoonies! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today, I’m glad that you are here. Today I want to talk about the idea of accepting our trauma experiences. In particular, I want to address some misunderstandings that I frequently see on the internet regarding this process.

So, the first thing in all of this that I want to talk about is trauma itself. There is a great deal of misunderstanding about what trauma is or isn’t. And there is this strange idea that it is unique to a handful of unfortunate people. Well, that’s not true. The brutal truth is that every single one of us human beings have experienced some form of trauma in our lives. It is a part of the human experience. It results from exposure to an incident or series of events that are emotionally disturbing or life-threatening. Trauma experiences are as varied as the people on this earth. What is emotionally disturbing to one person isn’t to another. One person feels exhilaration and excitement when the jump from an airplane. And another person would be terrified and believe that their life what in threat. Neither experience is wrong.

The thing to keep in mind is that trauma is an emotional response to an event that has occurred in a person’s life. Because of this, it will behave just like every other human emotional response. Which is to say: with a degree of unpredictability and a great deal of variability between individuals. There are many events that are likely to cause trauma such as rape, war, being shot or getting in a car accident. But that doesn’t mean that not having a trauma response to these events means you are abnormal. Nor does it mean that having a trauma response to other events means you are abnormal. There are times that seeming small events cause us great distress. That is the strange and unpredictable nature of being a human. Because of this, we can have a trauma response to a great variety of human experiences. The only person that can determine if something was emotionally disturbing is the person that experienced the event. The assessment for trauma is a self assessment. If you believe that you have experienced something traumatic, then you have. It is that simple.

The last thing to say on topic of defining trauma is that there is no means with which to measure trauma. It is either present or it is not. There is no such thing as a big trauma or a small trauma. This means that there is no means in which one person could feel trauma more then another person. Because trauma isn’t a thing to be measured so someone cannot have more or less of it then someone else. The conversations that attempt to measure and compare trauma experiences are thus not only meaningless but damaging. When we try to determine who has had the worst experience we are really asking who has the most valid emotional response to the events the experience. And the truth is that every emotional response to any experience is always valid. Instead, let’s give space to everyone’s emotional experience even if it is different then our own.

Okay, now that we have talked about what trauma is let’s talk about this idea of accepting trauma. The first thing that I want to say on this topic is that acceptance does not require forgiveness for someone or something that has caused a person harm. In fact, acceptance has nothing to do with the person or thing that caused the trauma. We feel anger as a normal and healthy response to having been caused harm. Why then, would we expect that erasing that healthy emotional response would be required for a person to heal from their traumatic experience? The emotions that we often label as being “negative” are there to protect us. Fear, anger and hate help us create distance from the things that would cause us emotional, physical and spiritual harm. There is nothing healthy about negating these emotions.

Acceptance is the action and process of being received as adequate or suitable. It is an action which means that it is something that we must choose to engage in and that it will require an effort. It is also a process which means that it is something that happens over a period of time in a gradual way. It is about receiving which is bringing something into ourselves. And this last part is the most important. It is about realizing that the traumatized self remains adequate and suitable despite having had the experience that caused them emotional disturbance. So, acceptance is actively engaging in the process of seeing our traumatized self as still being adequate and suitable human beings. By giving our emotional response space and allowing ourselves to process the experience that we lived through, we allow ourselves the opportunity to see that emotional experience as valid and to see the person who survived that experience as someone who is worthy of our love.

Accepting our trauma is about accepting the person that we become when we have experienced trauma.

Well, that’s about it for my rambling today. Thanks for coming and spending some time with me. If you like what you read, click on that like button. It really does help! Until we talk again, you take care of yourselves!

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