May 25, 2016

Rooting out Trauma: Why we Hold onto this Unwanted Gift.

Zak Cannon/ Flickr

As I work on my issues, I wonder why I have to keep working on my issues.

Jeez Louise! You’d think that one simple meditation should be enough to clear all of the memories, traumas, triggers, bad feelings and fear that I accumulated before I started down the spiritual path of letting go of all of these challenges to eternal bliss…

My path to enlightenment is littered with ejected baggage that was filled with past wounds and vivid memories of negative experiences. I earned the right to have a bumper sticker that said, “Yes, I have baggage, but it all matches.”

Specifically, there are three childhood memories that I continue to wrestle with, and any event that even remotely reminds me of those events causes me to react negatively, even when I know what is happening.

It truly sucks to know that my reaction to an unrelated event that has nothing to do with the memories that are trapped in my subconscious is caused by these very memories. As I dig down to loosen the roots of one trauma, I’m confronted with another traumatic memory.

“Oh no, not this again!”

As I understand it, there are several reasons why it sometimes takes years to heal from old traumas:

We justify who we are based on our past.

It is easier to make excuses for inappropriate behavior than to fully embrace the causes of that behavior.

The truth is that we have to come to peace with our past, and any conscious or subconscious resistance to what happened will prevent the discovery of that peace. In other words, the irony is that when we refuse to accept what happened to us, we hang on to the emotions and feelings that we experienced during the original event. These negative emotions will surface when we are reminded of those events, directly or indirectly.

So as long as we do not forgive those present at the original event, hold onto resentment, feel victimized or wish our past was different, we simply can’t move on.

We either have to embrace what happened to us as a gift (yup, there was one in there) or at least be neutral. When we don’t accept the gift of our trauma, it continues to land, wrapped up in different ways, in our laps.

Sometimes trauma takes roots.

Trauma tends to go so deep into our subconscious that it is like a growth that wraps around our hearts and sinks roots deep into our subconscious.

When we try to loosen those growths from our heart, and we don’t go deep enough to get at all of the roots and tendrils, like a dandelion the memories will keep coming back and we will continue to react the same way to similar events.

Neurologists and psychologists now believe that habitual thinking creates neural pathways and when we focus on traumatic events that will cause repeated reactions to that trauma. In other words we create our own suffering by obsessing on our past.

What we need to do is to get help in rooting out the cause of our suffering. There is a Buddhist saying: “Dig deep, find water. Swim deep, find pearls.”

The essence of this saying is that we have to fearlessly dig into our subconscious (water).

Negative attention.

Some of us wear our trauma like heroes’ medals of honor and love to tell our story when we get around friends or strangers. Strangers give us sympathy; friends want to give us advice. Either way, we get attention.

We learn to seek negative attention as children—good children get a pat on the head once in a while, children who misbehave get attention all of the time. Some children do this subconsciously, some do it consciously. If we get attention from our parents, even if it is in the form of discipline, we equate that to love.

We need to quit seeking negative attention.

There are many modalities which can help with the effects of trauma, especially PTSD. These modalities are helpful in going in deep and releasing the roots of trauma that keeps coming back.

Eye Movement Desynthesizing and Reprocessing Technique (EMDR), Francine Shapiro; The Havening Technique (Amygdala Repotentiation), Ronald Ruden; and Cognative Behavioral Therapy (CBT) report success in helping trauma victims.

The goal is identifying and releasing the negative effects of traumatic memories to find the past trauma (the pearl) that is causing us to suffer in the present. When we can find these pearls and embrace them for the gifts that they are, we will move past the trauma and subconscious memories that cause us to suffer.

We no longer have to experience fear, abandonment and rejection in relationships. We no longer have to explode for no apparent reason. We no longer have to stare at the ceiling night after night wondering why we can’t sleep. We no longer have to experience anxiety and stress.

Our internal gardening is an absolutely necessary and unending process. As I dig deeper, I find that going ever-deeper into my subconscious to remove the infections that were created by traumatic events is exhausting. However, I sleep better.

So go find a practitioner that can help you and start digging.


Relephant read:

I Am Not Who I Once Was: Who We Become after Trauma.


Author: james Robinson

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Zak Cannon/ Flickr


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