Psychological trauma happens when we experience or witness negative life events that are so overwhelming that we are unable to cope with the distress. The disturbing incident intrudes into your mind and life, overwhelming your brain and nervous system’s capacity to process information. You may feel stuck in negative patterns of thoughts and behaviors. Despite your best efforts, your mind keeps revisiting these disturbing memories and feelings. You cannot imagine things going back to “normal” and feel alone in your anguish.
People tend to acknowledge “big T” traumas like war, global catastrophes, and sexual abuse as “significant traumas”. But other traumas are less talked about, even though they are also significant. For instance, suppose you were humiliated in third grade by your teacher in front of the whole class. That negative experience could cause you enough distress that it could be traumatic for you. It may change the way you see the world and relate to others. You may develop a mistrust of others. Your brain may adopt negative beliefs about yourself, such as “I am a failure”, “I’m shameful”. This negative program can continue to run in your brain long after the traumatic incident, even when things are going well for you in life.
You can heal from trauma and move forward with your life. Some people are lucky enough to have friends and family who can provide emotional support. You may have a mentor or spiritual guide you can talk to. Some may have great coping skills that can help them regain control of their life. However, if negative or disturbing thoughts, images, and feelings continue to dominate your life, seek out a therapist to help you process what you’re going through. Trauma could be at the root of your symptoms, and seeking professional help can help you figure out what steps you can take to begin to heal and move forward in your life.