Trauma isn’t just about divorce, rape or death. As a matter of fact, trauma is more often the less obvious events. The more common catastrophes such as childhood bullying, feeling neglected by a parent, constant relocation (not having a secure sense of ‘home’) or losing a job can cripple us when we don’t pay attention to the consequences they can have on us when our emotions are undealt with.
Suppressed emotions (such as hurt, pain, betrayal etc.) are wounds that get stored in our psyche. Should this be left unresolved for an extended period of time, it can show up in our bodies, and hence, get manifested as physical ailments. These common catastrophes that don’t get much support affect our adulthood in ways that we may not see the link. So how does such trauma affect us as adults?
We spoke to Karina Calver, Founder of Hukam Healing and a TEDx speaker to help us understand more about trauma responses that are not talked about often and here's what she had to say:
One could have been being bullied as a kid in school and didn’t know how to stand up for themselves. This can result in removing and isolating oneself as a grown up or being more guarded when it comes to trusting people. Another example of a common trauma that goes unnoticed is when someone loses their job unexpectedly and their life takes a dramatic turn causing hardships. When we don’t know how to process this form of loss, we rationalize it but don’t actually process those painful emotions of feeling betrayed by the company one worked for. This can then cascade into being overly paranoid and hypervigilant in the long run. These are common effects of some specific traumas when they are unresolved. However, the common emotional residue of unresolved traumas are the 4 things mentioned below.
1. We Feel Unlovable
When children feel neglected or abandoned, the deep-rooted low self-love takes birth. An uncaring parent’s intentional or unintentional behavior affects a child’s sense of self worth as an adult. So when children grow up and feel like they are unlovable, it most likely stems from their parents not be able to fulfill their children’s emotional needs. These adults will then also not know how to ask for love as they would feel they are undeserving and would fear being rejected. The domino effect of feeling unloved is ten-folds.
2. We Feel We Are Not Good Enough
When we are told as children that the way we are isn’t appreciated, whether it is about how we dress or our body or our ideas, we feel rejected. It could be that our parents unknowingly told us that we need to lose weight so that we could be pretty. This sends a message that the way we are isn’t enough to be accepted and loved. This becomes problematic because we then go beyond our limits to prove our worthiness. Our sense of feeling good is derived by how people see us and not how we see ourselves. The power of our worth is placed on other people’s hands. The flip side is also true. Some might stop trying because they feel that they aren’t good enough the way they are so why bother making the effort. Either way, it is harmful because it reflects on how an unresolved wound makes one feel inadequate.
3. We Need Constant Approval From Other People
When children aren’t reassured of the merits or skills they have, it affects them as adults. We grow up feeling unsure about ourselves and need constant reassurance, approval or validation from the people around us. This is problematic because it means we value the opinion of others far more than our own. How someone else sees what we’re doing and their input means greater than how we view it ourselves. The reason this is dangerous is because we are in constant need for someone else to direct our lives. We are at their mercy, which also shows that they drive our life and not us.
4. We Feel People Would Leave Us, Betray Us Or Walk Away If We Show Them Who We Truly Are
When we feel that if we reveal who we are to those we are getting to know, especially in a romantic relationship, that they will leave us is an indication that we have placed them in a higher rank as if they are flawless and we, by default, aren’t good enough. It also shows that the way we are is not worthy to be loved and that we have to pretend to be someone else. The person we are with will not love us but instead they will just disappear on us. We are also sending the message that, “If you find out all my insecurities and flaws, you won’t love me so I better keep up with this mask.” Not to mention the anxiety this creates for having to fake it until we can’t anymore.
There is a dire need to address common catastrophe incidents that occur in our lives because when unresolved, it shows up in our adulthood. These unresolved wounds then spill onto our relationships and hinder us to feel loved, valued and secure because of the narrative in our own head space.