Small traumas versus big traumas
Many of us think of trauma as rape, war, accidents, physical abuse, sexual abuse, witnessing or being a victim of a crime as the only thing that merits seeking help from a professional.
I believe many of us don’t allow ourselves to identify with the terms ‘being traumatized’ or having a diagnosis of PTSD because they don’t feel that their trauma was significant enough.
However, we know from research that even the lack of sufficient attunement from Parent to Child in infancy is considered a trauma. What do I mean by attunement? It is an interpersonal connection that allows two people to experience a sense of connection. It is genuine attention. It is listening with mind, body, heart and soul.
Babies require an attuned adult to help them develop their capacity to self-regulate. What does it mean to regulate the self? It means to return from a state of arousal. It means to return to calm when something in the environment is startling or evoking overwhelming emotion. When babies don’t have this present and attuned adult to help them soothe, their nervous system may start developing other mechanisms to self-cope, such as dissociation, tuning out, zoning out, or turning to distractions. (When tuning out or turning to distractions become habitual, you can see how this may manifest into “troublesome or unwanted behaviours” as an adult.)
In Addition To Lack Of Attunement, There Any Many Other Small And Medium Traumas That Can Cause Cumulative Stress In An Individual. Such As…
- A lack of emotional understanding
- emotional abuse, being yelled at, called names, manipulated, taken advantage of, threatened with abandonment
- being bullied by parents, siblings, peers, or others
- being ignored
- having overbearing parents
- getting too much attention (intrusion), overstimulation
- not succeeding in school
- losing a job
- feeling we could not measure up to our parents’ standards or our siblings’ accomplishments (i.e. not as book smart, athletic, extroverted or socially adept)
- feeling different or alone for any reason, including gender differences, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, body type, socioeconomic status, cultural issues
- a parent remarrying
- blending families
- adopting or having a child
- being adopted
- conflict or estrangement with family members
- legal troubles
- physical or mental illness
- physical injury
- having a sick family member at risk of dying
- having an incarcerated parent
- being incarcerated
- having a family member who suffers from addiction
- having a depressed parent
- having a parent with mental health issues or trauma
- being the target of prejudice/judgement
- inability to meet social expectations (religion, community)
We believe that addressing all traumas, no matter how small they seem, to be the solution to feeling better and living better. Are you ready to give yourself the gift of therapy?