What is Trauma?


I define trauma as an experience or situation that fundamentally alters the way I believe the world should work.

My perception of the world gets flipped upside down.

If I’m not able to integrate these experiences into my life.

It can really leave me with a profound sense of isolation and a feeling of being alone. That I can’t connect with anybody. It can impact the way I feel about myself, and start to invalidate my own beliefs about myself, and how the world works.

Trauma’s complex, it’s cumulative, and it’s not always what it seems.

We all kind of know at this point that for a lot of different reasons in the behavioral health field.

It’s largely been stigmatized throughout most of our lives in terms of getting help for emotional challenges. But what I’ve come to understand is that there’s almost a stigma around the word stigma today.

And here’s what I mean by that a lot of people tend to assume. Most people don’t seek help because they’re scared. They’re going to be branded as weak or defective. Scared that it’s going to end their career or compromise their relationships with others.

And although there’s certainly some truth to that in some organizations.

I’m not mitigating that but I found it’s actually much more complex than that.

Those who are really struggling with shame or guilt sometimes they don’t believe they deserve to get help. Sometimes that belief is even subconscious to the point where they’re not even cognitive of it.

Others don’t seek help because they don’t have the vernacular or the vocabulary. To describe the complex deep-seated feelings that they’re experiencing.

If I can’t put what I’m dealing with into words how am I possibly going to project that to somebody else to get help for it? Others don’t seek help because they’ve gotten so used to living in pain that they don’t know what will happen in the absence of pain.


What I have found out is that this is a function of shame and a function of guilt and it’s inherent to those emotions.

Shame is really a feeling we feel worthless.

That we’re worth less than other people.

The complexity behind shame it’s a circle that fuels itself with more shame. It really does, it’s a positive feedback loop. We feel ashamed of ourselves and we go do things.

We turn to addiction, drugs, alcohol, working ourselves into the ground, unhealthy relationships, and cutting.

And those things on the surface can appear to work at the moment, can appear to feel up a void temporarily.

But what happens the next day?

What happens the next morning? You feel even worse about yourself. You cause even more problems. And this process continues to feed itself, by creating more shame and more guilt. And the thing is something has to be able to stop the flow.

What I see as one of the largest challenges we’re facing right now.

And this drive the very work I do today is to help people first uncover the root cause of their emotional pain.

To give them permission to recognize and validate the true source of it. Which is a very difficult thing to pin down. Once that happens though. Once we’re able to identify the root cause of the shame, that is the ultimate weakness of shame.

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