Why Understanding Your Trauma Helps Your Transformational Journey
Do you agree if you don't understand what it is that you're trying to fix or change, you can't figure out what to do about it? In other words, if you don't know what is really causing you to struggle, suffer, feel depressed, or feel unfulfilled, you can't possibly have a solution for the problem, can you? Getting to the root cause of the problem begins with you connecting with yourself.
Your transformational journey began by deepening your connection to the Self – exploring the different parts of who you are, capturing your uncensored thoughts, reasserting your values, and identifying your goals. But as you move further along in your healing, you may encounter difficulties as a result of the trauma you’ve endured.
Trauma – defined as an emotional response to any type of terrible event – comes in many forms, and it can manifest in any number of ways. From bullying and abuse to natural disasters and terrorism, most of us have likely experienced a traumatic event at some point. And also very likely, that event has triggered one or more behavioral patterns that have lingered with us long-term.
Even if you’re aware of the role trauma has played in your life, you may not understand why it has impacted you so strongly. How is it possible that an event from your distant past could have such a noticeable effect on your present?
It has to do with the makeup of our minds and the awe-inspiring yet complex ways that we process and store information.
The human mind is comprised of three deep programming systems – the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the unconscious mind.
The conscious mind is the top, thin layer of this configuration. Its job is to think both critically and creatively. This part of your mind analyzes, evaluates, plans for the future reflects on the past, criticizes, judges, and so on. This is where you deliberately assign meaning to your everyday experiences. In short, your conscious mind represents everything inside of your awareness.
The subconscious mind is akin to a cloud recording system or memory bank. It records everything you’ve seen, heard, touched, tasted, smelled, and experienced throughout your life, with a special emphasis on what happened to you from birth to age 11. Everything that’s stored here becomes the foundation of your personality, your behavioral patterns, your belief system, and your decision-making style. However, this record of your lived experience isn’t without its glitches, with the subconscious mind taking cues from its conscious counterpart. In some instances, your conscious mind interprets an event first, and then your subconscious mind stores it. So, if your conscious mind processes a particular moment as horrifying, the subconscious mind records it as such, and likewise for those moments that you process as healing or positive.
The unconscious mind is the physical body’s superintelligence. Generally speaking, the human body is wondrous, working seamlessly to keep us going. It has as many as 50 trillion cells, and each cell holds DNA with 20,000 different expressions. A single stem cell can go on to form a nerve, organ, tissue, muscle, or blood. We breathe 20,000 times a day from the moment we are born. Yet most of us will never know how any of these systems function – how the respiratory system works, how the bloodstream delivers oxygens to our cells, or how carbon dioxide waste is removed through internal respiration. This is because the unconscious mind runs our biological system. We don’t need to think about any of these processes to keep living; our minds, and thus our bodies, know what to do. The superintelligence of our cells works as its own autonomous force. Metaphysicists argue that this unconscious superintelligence is much like the unique intelligence of the Universe at large, functioning at all times without our awareness. Essentially, that’s how your unconscious mind works – you know that all your thoughts, feelings, cognitions, memories, and functions exist, but they play a role in your life without your conscious awareness.
Understanding these three layers can help you understand trauma on a deeper level.
If you think about the subconscious mind, it’s a lot like an iCloud storage system. It’s a record of everything you’ve ever experienced before and everything you’re experiencing now. It’ll also be the official ledger of everything you’ll experience in the future. But, save for those times when the conscious mind interferes, these experiences are recorded in their most basic form, without polarity or extreme emotion. If you see raindrops falling on a windowsill, the subconscious mind records this sight as raindrops falling on a windowsill. What you’ve witnessed won’t become a traumatic experience because it isn’t emotionally significant enough to stand out.
Trauma is the opposite of these uneventful “files” in your iCloud storage. Traumatic experiences are highly charged emotional energies that are unprocessed, unresolved, and unreleased stored in your energy body.
These significant emotional experiences are linked to negative emotions, and because of this association, they’re stored in the conscious mind. Let’s say you see the raindrops on the windowsill while you’re fighting with your mother, and you feel angry. Anger is one of the strongest emotional experiences you can have, and thus, the conscious mind assigns it meaning. Now, the conscious mind and the subconscious mind are communicating about this emotional experience; their primary link is trauma. Particularly, the conscious mind is on high alert, attempting to process your negative emotions.
Ideally, these sorts of emotional experiences should be processed through your physical body, emotional body, and mental body to help you make sense of the situation and move forward, as moving forward is a natural instinct. But most of us aren’t taught how to process trauma. The result? When we endure a negatively charged emotional experience, we store it. Our bodies keep score, and the trauma can elevate the levels of stress hormones in our systems while also suppressing our ability to express our emotions in a productive and healthy way.
And then, generation after generation, we internalize that trauma, and it gets passed on to others – a phenomenon known as ancestorial or epigenetic trauma.
Your unresolved, unreleased trauma is stored inside your body, in your skin, tissues, organs, and blood. When you encounter a traumatic trigger, your brain sends signals to reactivate your trapped emotional energies, and you experience more trauma via physically or emotionally reactive experiences. Repeated reactivation of this trauma can lead to mental instability and chronic disease, which could lead you toward the very dependencies we identified as harmful in the first post of this series.
Without question, trauma must be healed, but how?
First, know that trauma is often deeply embedded in your mind and body, and it will take time to peel back layers, understand the root cause of the trauma, and identify the necessary steps for transformation. But you can start with a few foundational steps:
Break the Silence: Your trauma is already something you’ve dealt with alone. Identify people around you who you can trust and reach out to them for support. It's time for you to receive support and guidance so you can live your wonderful life beyond your trauma.
Look for professional help: Trauma is complex and deep-seated, and you won’t be able to process it without the right guidance. Seek a trained professional who specializes in treating and transforming trauma.
Accept your memories but don't take the at face value: Remember, our natural instinct is to move forward. In some cases, this may mean suppressing the traumatic memory to carry on with life. But suppressing is not processing. Facing your memories and accepting them is a necessary step toward healing. Accepting doesn't mean settling on it but it's a good place to understand what it is that you're trying to heal yourself from.
Practice self-care & Self-love: Your health absolutely matters as you process your trauma. Whether it’s healthy foods, exercise, or mindfulness best practices, develop a self-care routine that ensures you’re in the best possible state of mind to do this difficult emotional work.
Show gratitude: Your trauma does not define you. Step back and regularly express appreciation for all the great things and people in your life. In all that you enjoy, you’ll find happiness and many reasons to proceed on your healing journey. You may realize your life is full of miracles and many achievements but when you focus on one or two negatives in your life, other "good stuff" in your life would vanish. Recognize your blessings.
Sleep well: Sleep is a biological mechanism that is equivalent to hours of days worth of healing sessions for your mind, energy, emotion, and body. Sleep disrupts the low, dense frequencies that exhaust you so you can rest and recoup. Find a natural remedy that would work for you to enhance your sleep. Have a listen to my recent podcast episode on "How to Sleep Well Again," here.
Wake up with 3 things you'd like to experience today. Be ambitious, be courageous, and be confident to name your prize for the day.
Go to bed recognizing what you've achieved for the day. It could be even small as, "I woke up on time," or "I got through the day without breaking down."
All of us will be affected by trauma in some capacity, but by understanding how it occupies space in your body, you can take the necessary next steps on your road to emotional recovery.
In the third and final post of this series, I’ll lead you down the path to transformation.