So this week I’ve been talking to lots of people about the impact of trauma in their life. I was talking to a specialist last week and she said, “So when you going to write a book about trauma?” I said, “Funny you should ask because that’s what I’m doing now.” Then I got to thinking about one of the challenges I am currently facing, which is in creating my diagram to work to show why certain elements of my key theory are so important and how they interact.
My theory around trauma is that our primary emotional need and number one thing that we all need and strive for in life is a connection. A connection is vitally important to us as human beings.
Our whole life we seek to connect as human beings. We want to try and connect with other people – first with our parents, siblings and extended family. Then we go to school and want to connect with our school friends, and then later in life its other friends, work and intimate relationships that form our important connections. These different points of connection within our lives are what make us feel good about ourselves.
In my previous book ‘Define your Inner Diva’, I talk about the need to connect with ourselves, to assist in understanding that our negative belief system develops from how we see ourselves. This is a big thing that we need to resolve within us before we can form the ideal relationships we crave, the success we want or the financial freedom we desire.
When looking to resolve our negative belief system, I like to look at why we don’t feel good about ourselves as people. Common reasons for this are because we could not get the connections we craved throughout our childhood, or we could not get the connection in the way we were expecting. This is where trauma comes from – trauma is the essence of disconnection.
When you think about the things in your life that are traumatic for you, the things that make you feel bad about yourself such as feeling rejected, that is the trauma causing a disconnection. Perhaps you were abandoned, and that is what has led to the feeling of rejection to arise.
When we can’t get a connection the way we want it, then we look to change the way we connect with other people. Our primary experience from childhood is expecting that we will connect with people in a strong and positive way. For example, you may have had a relationship with your mother that was loving and full of care, or you may have had a relationship where she made you emotionally responsible for how she felt, or you may have had no one at all who seemed to care or was aware of your presence. These different factors are going to impact how you choose to connect going forward in your life.
If you reflect on how you were able, or unable, to have the connection you craved with your parents, this will lead you to understand the way you enter into adult relationships. If you had a negative experience of connection in childhood this can lead to feeling like you want to push people away and keep them at a distance because “they will leave anyway”. In this situation, you feel that no matter how tight you hold onto them, you feel that you can’t trust people to stay around. If, on the other hand, you had positive and nurturing connections in your childhood, you will be more willing to openly connect with people and be able to trust them as you want too.
An example of this impact I like to look at is a TED talk by Brene Brown who looks at vulnerability from the perspective of the “wholehearted”. She talks about how there is one group of people who are really happy living their life and allow themselves to be vulnerable, which in turn, allows them to form positive connections with others.
Being vulnerable allows you to open areas of yourself up, to allow people to see things about you that may result in them rejecting you, however, it usually results in making you feel closer to others through that vulnerability. Being vulnerable allows us to be open and make way for people to truly love us for who we really are and form the strong positive connections we desire and enable us to live our most luscious life.