Trauma can cause us to reject ourselves. Most people blame themselves when they have a traumatic experience and are encouraged to do so. But there is more to the story than that, and we want to discuss and understand more so we can release ourselves from the toxic aftereffects of trauma in our lives.
Creating trauma can be a way of attacking another person by making them a problem, an inconvenience, wrong, or a danger. Many of us know this experience. It occurs when our value or our being is not visible or desired. It could be because of blindness in others or social norms that refuse us. Underneath all of the trauma is a belief that change is bad or, at a minimum undesirable. It is the acting out of entitlement. How can we overcome this? A joy practice makes that possible.
Trauma And Culture
Trauma is not an accident. It is also not necessarily a result of the behavior of the victim. (We are not talking about stubbing our toes kind of trauma.) I say this because we all make mistakes and can do harm. However, too often, trauma is what we are offered when we step outside of the demands and expectations of our social systems. Its purpose is to keep us in line and compliant.
Just because this is the case does not mean we want to act out as a response. Those who want to control others watch for that as an excuse to be more controlling and create even more trauma. Let’s explore why this is such a strong part of our human experience.
Two Different Kinds Of Trauma
Some say we cannot escape trauma in our lives, and I believe there is truth to that, not because of social structures but because there is always some trial and error in life. None of us escape the learning process, nor should we. But does it have to be this traumatic? I personally believe there are two types of trauma: the discomforts, challenges, and disappointments that come from learning and the trauma created by those who want to control us and prevent change.
Since life is a learning experience, among other things, those who create control trauma want you to learn that the only way for you to be safe is to obey them. Essentially, you must give up who you are and your will to get along with them.
This means you are expected to give up your own becoming, your own growth, and development so that someone else feels safe, whatever that means. Often discomfort between people comes from different ways in which each has developed, which is unavoidable. But when some continue to grow, it can be helped against them by those who have stopped growing at some point. I am not saying that growth is a mandate, but it is a natural part of life that comes are we work with the ever-changing reality of life. We each have a role to play.
Control Does Not Work
The poet, David Whyte, says, “Half of what lies in the heart and mind is potentiality, resides in the darkness of the unspoken and unarticulated and has not yet come into being: this hidden, unspoken half will supplant and subvert any present understandings we have about ourselves. Human beings are a frontier between what is known and what is not known.”
This means that part of us is in the unknown, and that unknown that we bring into the world as part of our growth and learning is useful and valuable to us and others. We want to embrace it. Some, though, reject this process, thinking that their “answer” to what life is all about is the answer and even the final answer. The reality, though, is that there is no final answer.
What Trauma Is
Trauma is a rejection of both the present and the future and it is an assertion that the ways of the past be protected even at the expense of the now and the becoming of individuals and the world. Trauma is a rejection and sacrifice of the future. It is actually quite cynical as well as distrustful. It is amazing, really, because over thousands of years, humans have created so much goodness. All of this goodness has been created as an ongoing process which means that the past launched new forms of goodness for us to enjoy. So that means that if we have always created some new forms of goodness, what is the problem? Why the existence and punishment of those who create new goodness?
Obviously, we want to acknowledge the contributions of the past, but the past is past, and we also need to be able to work with the issues in the present that need resolving. You cannot be both present and stuck in the past, and demanding that of people creates an unnecessary and cruel burden.
It is time to put an end to the controlling cultural resistance to change, all of the trauma that is used to condition people to serve the past and the status quo and avoid change. We all deserve a world that works, and our institutions must do their part.