How do we heal trauma?
The first step in healing and overcoming any trauma, is to first acknowledge and fully understand its impact.
Often we have a hard time coming to terms with what has happened to us and owning that it mattered. Dismissing our experiences and our feelings does more harm than good.
Try to keep in mind that what has happened to you matters and is important purely because you matter and are important.
Once we can accept that something has affected us, we are able to start to process what that impact may be. In therapy, this often is the primary focus and presenting concern for starting treatment. Maybe it's panic attacks, persistent low mood, or difficulty sleeping. Whatever the case, we first address what are causing the most day-to-day concerns for you.
From there, we then start to explore what these feelings could be rooted in or connected to.
As we begin exploring the narrative around our experiences we can address the meaning that we have attached along the way.
Sometimes the meaning we have attached is causing the problem. For example, if we believe “I was attacked because I was walking alone at night in an unsafe area” then we unfairly assume blame and shame for what happened to us. This can negatively impact our sense of self-worth and self-esteem, creating a whole host of auxiliary problems for us.
So, instead we work together to try to tease out the facts from the feelings. In this case, we would be working towards accepting “I was attacked, it has made me very afraid and and it was not ok no matter the circumstance.” Seems simple enough but our bodies and minds sometimes fight this healing process.
Therapy provides a safe, non judgmental, and accepting space for folks to process what has happened and begin to look at these experiences in healthier, more realistic terms. Once we have been able to adjust the meaning attached to our experiences, we can learn healthier ways of coping with uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings. Equipped with a new set of skills, and a new perspective, we are nearly guaranteed to fair better in our world.
When we tackle our trauma, we tend to be more grounded in our bodies, more discerning in our limits and boundaries, and more confident in ourselves.
If you, or anyone you know, has experienced trauma and are curious about moving forward and changing the way you think and feel about it, contact a therapist. Start the journey of healing by walking alongside a professional who can provide the support and positive regard necessary for you to grow into the best version of yourself. -Meredith Mertens Hegedus