Updated: Sep 4, 2019
Trauma has become a bit of a dirty word. People are frightened of it. "I don't have any trauma", is a phrase heard time and time again from clients. Everyone has trauma to one degree or another. Most of us have heard of the big traumatic events - sexual abuse, war zones, car crashes etc. This is Big T trauma. But there is another type of trauma which leaves us suffering just as much, and it is called Little t trauma, or relational trauma. The effects of trauma vary in their impact; some has a monumental impact, some might have a smaller but deeply significant impact, and still more might result in deep hurt.
When we talk about relational trauma, it is a subject of the four Ss, safe, seen, secure and soothed not being experienced enough in childhood. For some this results in profoundly believable negative self beliefs that end up ruling the person’s adult life, for others it is a feeling that something just doesn't feel right, or good. These negative beliefs cause a person to live in fear - even if they don’t realise they are in fear.
To varying degrees, these childhood wounds need to be anaesthatised, and this is where we have the different levels of self-soothing, from the chronic heroin/meth/crack/alcohol/sex/gambling etc. user, right through to the highly functioning house Mum or city worker on net a porter or adrenaline rushes respectively.
Anyone who reaches externally for something to make them feel better in that moment, is soothing a past pain or hurt. The sadness is that as a society we have come to see these “addictions” and / or "self-soothings" as acceptable and even the norm. Sometimes one is actually seen as “abnormal” or “weird” for not wanting to indulge in external pursuits of anaesthetizing!
The reality is that we are a nation of hurt and wounded beings, unable to connect with our true selves, reaching for external things to soothe that internal pain - and aspiring to a social norm that is not only inauthentic but also self-perpetuating, encouraging a life of disconnection.
What to do about this:
In order to live a life of connection and fulfillness we need first to understand that we are hurt. Then we can face our pain and work through it. We need not do this alone.