Healing Past Traumatic Experiences

When we think of the word “trauma,” we think of warriors in combat, or victims of a natural disaster, or the injured party of a sexual abuse or a violent assault, or even someone hurt in an auto-accident.   On a scale of one to ten, these traumatic experiences could be rated up closer to a “ten” in terms of destabilization to the mental, emotional, and physical self.   We call these big “T” traumas and the amount of wounding that occurs to the body and soul takes a tremendous toll on the individual who has been victimized by out of the ordinary traumatic events. 

Entering into the healing process requires many resources, much expertise and support, and a certain degree of resolve and persistence on the part of the person wanting to be free of the Post Traumatic Stress symptoms.  The good news is that, as with most wounds, the result will be a stronger and more resilient personality.   It is well known that a healed broken bone will be even stronger than it was previously because of the nature of the physical healing process.  Emotional healing will result in more stable, better self-regulating capabilities with more resolve to have greater integrity with oneself.   Trauma, if allowed, can lead to the type of character development that is hard to come by in our ever indulgent society.   Turning horrific events into a transformative process is no easy task, but, I believe, is truly the work of life.  It offers that sense of peaceful assurance that all is well with our soul.

Trauma can also come in the form of less intense experiences, (little “t” traumas), but still feel like a “ten” emotionally to the person having the experience.   A few examples I’ve worked with are:

·        Having memories of verbal or emotional abuse

·        Experiencing the sudden or untimely death of a close friend or relative

·        Receiving disturbing lab results or hearing a threatening diagnosis from a doctor

·        Feeling violated by a robbery, being the victim of a crime, or even being an eyewitness to a crime

·        Having all kinds of relational problems as a result of being connected to a controlling person and not knowing how separate what you want from what they want; deciding on marriage counseling without reciprocation; facing a divorce; dealing with obstinate children or an aging parent…….


What makes a traumatic event a “one” or a “ten” on the rating scale of destabilization, no matter how terrorizing or seemingly common place, is actually how we, as individuals, interpret our experiences.

 We all have our own particular lens from which we perceive things as we face life events.   We are operating from the strategies we have used to negotiate our way through childhood.   We will usually use those same strategies as we face all sorts of difficult circumstances. Perfectionism, avoidance behaviors, anger or rage, having a deep sense of helplessness and addictions of all kinds are all common defensive strategies used to combat threats to our well-being.


We can get to know ourselves and our particular strategies when we look at our reactions to traumatic events in our lives. 

Awareness of our triggers, and some of the defensive habits we have established to cope with stressful events, can be the impetus to change.  Deciding whether we want to keep our old strategies or replace them with newer more productive and less harmful ways of being is the transformative work we are called to. There is always hope and healing for our hearts.