People who suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, low self esteem, addictions, personality disorders and other mental health issues do not develop symptoms out of nowhere. What most people do not realise is that unresolved trauma could be causing or perpetuating their problems.
Trauma is often at the root of many problems that affect our wellbeing, but often we don't recognise it as trauma because it doesn't fit our conception of what might be traumatic.
When people think of trauma, they often have in mind major events such as physical or sexual abuse; but often the more subtle experiences in childhood can cause us just as much pain. Trauma can be caused by teachers undermining us, brothers or sisters bullying us, parents giving us mixed messages or being inconsistent in their parenting.
The difficulty people have with identifying their own childhood experiences as traumatic can be because they see them from the perspective of an adult. People may think that their experiences, although painful, can not be the cause of their problems, because they are not in the category of major trauma.
They may dismiss them as small, seemingly insignificant events that they should have been able to “get over”, and may even feel embarrassed that something like that could cause them to feel pain in later life.
But the truth is, unresolved events do cause pain when you carry the feelings through to adulthood. And when you experienced these traumas, you experienced them with a child's limited understanding and narrow range of coping skills.
Things that may seem insignificant as an adult take on gigantic proportions as a child. The younger you were when the events happened, the less you were able to process them skilfully, and so part of you gets stuck in the childhood pain, even in adulthood.
Sometimes people don't even know what has caused their issues, and may need to explore their feelings to find out what is behind them. In my experience, most of what needs to be healed comes from events before the age of six, and later events can reinforce these feelings further.
A therapeutic tool called Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) can help you to uncover and resolve these traumatic events quickly and with less pain than if you were to just talk them over in counselling. NLP enables you to actively process the experiences that had previously kept you stuck, and move on with much more strength and resilience than before.
What are you still carrying around that you want to let go of?
by Beth Burgess, Therapist and author of The Recovery Formula, The Happy Addict, and What Is Self-Esteem?