Managing Emotional Trauma Big and Small
Emotional trauma can take many forms. There are major traumas that are considered out of the norm for typical lives. They can range from wide ranging traumas that can affect an entire community such as natural disasters or war and personal traumas such as serious accidents and physical and sexual assaults. These types of things can result in a disorder called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is characterized by hyperarousal, re-experiencing the trauma through nightmares and flashbacks, numbing and avoidant behavior. PTSD takes a toll on personal relationships as sufferers often pull away from loved ones. Sometimes people with PTSD cope in maladaptive ways such as engaging in alcohol and other substance abuse or other compulsive or self destructive behaviors. Some occupations can put people at higher risk for PTSD by the nature and stresses of what they do. This may include first responders as police, firefighters and EMT’s as well as military and corrections officers.
Trauma does not have to be so dramatic to affect people’s lives. There are traumas on a smaller scale which can add up in ways which also impair how people function. Small traumas may also lead to false and maladaptive beliefs about themselves and others.Things like having a ill or inattentive parent, bullying in school or feeling you are treated differently can lead to feeling lonely, isolated and not worthwhile. This can lead to self defeating beliefs and ideas like” I am bad, I am alone” or “that I am unlovable”. You can get an idea that underlying beliefs are driving your behavior by how reactive you are to people or situations. If you are over reacting than it is likely somethings else is driving you.
In order to manage these self defeating ideas one first has to take a look at their thinking and how it may be affecting them and creating obstacles in their lives. Taking care of yourself emotionally and physically is important. Taking time to meditate, pray and have time to self reflect and develop spiritually is important as well. Also using positive affirmations and positive intentions may help to reframe your thinking..Getting out of yourself and reaching out to others is helpful as well. If someone is really struggling, professional counseling may be in order to identify and assist in working through these issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches how to uncover negative and false beliefs and replace them with more adaptive beliefs. Other therapies such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) go further if need be to uncover trauma that may be stuck and unconscious. An often misguided sentiment if feeling that you need to go it alone. It is a strength in knowing when to reach out for help.