Transform Your Trauma instead of Transferring It
When you hear the word ‘trauma’ what comes to mind?
When someone else shares a distressing event that happened to them, what happens to your body? Does it freeze? Does it ache? Or does it want to run?
As Bessel Van Der Kolk says, ‘The Body Keeps the Score,’ and I couldn’t agree more. In my TED talk I challenge the notion that one person’s traumatic event can be bigger than another person’s, I do this because the magnitude is irrelevant if trauma is not healed or resolved.
The journey to resolving trauma begins with acknowledging it. Most of us do not believe we have experienced any trauma of relevance in our lives, all we must do is look at the statistics that says over 70% of adult Americans have experienced at least one traumatic incident in their lives, and over 66% in the U.K and Australia – if we base it off these numbers, we resemble a scene from the walking dead. With these stats, at least one in two people you come across in your homes, work and communities have experienced a disturbing event and most likely have never acknowledged it to themselves, let alone shared it with anyone else.
The first step to healing your trauma is the internal recognition of what you went through. It could have been growing up in a physical war zone in Syria or Sierra-Leone or another different type of war zone in your home where you witnessed domestic violence between your parents. There is every possibility these events made you more resilient and where this should be celebrated as post traumatic growth, it would also be enlightening to understand what shifted view of your inner and outer world you created because of that event and how does this view show up and play out in your life.
It is incredibly difficult to say goodbye to something you have not said hello to.
Noting that to speak about one’s trauma would mean there is a safe place to do so. ‘Safe’ meaning you will not be met with judgement or even the need for someone to solve your problems by trying to fix ‘it’ or ‘you.’ Creating ‘safe’ places around the world is one of STF’s (Sawubona Transformation Foundation) mission. Sometimes, we just need to speak about what we went through to release the power it holds over us.
The next stage of dealing with or resolving your trauma is to be open. The equivalent of emptying your cup, meaning letting go of everything you believed to be right. I ask you to suspend these beliefs while you open yourself up to an alternative way of being considering your acknowledged trauma.
What was profound for me during the healing of my trauma, which was rooted in a space of low self-worth, was that the minute I started using my voice and speaking about that specific disturbing event was the minute magical things started to happen. I would be introduced to someone else who had experienced what I had, and they would share a therapist or healing practitioner that had helped them shift some of the discomfort and limiting beliefs they had been holding on to. The secret is to remain awake to what your body and intuition is telling you, then be open to an alternative way of existing, outside of what you experienced.
A few other things you can do to deal with your trauma is to:
- Remind yourself that you are safe now (on the premise you are no longer in the situation) and find an anchor that brings you back to your body. For some people, an anchor could be gently placing their right hand on their left shoulder when they are triggered. This is a method of self-soothing.
- Meditation is always an amazing go-to. It took me a while to see value in this as I have always been a ‘go go go’ person so being still felt wrong. However, meditation of 20 minutes gifts me not just peace, but a sort of awakening to multiple solutions to problems I’ve been facing. Transcendental meditation takes you to a deeper level of consciousness, and its here magic awaits.
- Emotional Freedom Technique is a form of non-invasive acupuncture as I like to call it. You say a plethora of affirmative sentences that help you acknowledge ‘what is’ or ‘what was’ and then guides you to re-code what you want to become. You can search up free tapping sessions on YouTube if you type in EFT.
One critical thing to remember when dealing with your trauma is to remember that whatever is not transformed, ultimately gets transferred. Either in relationships or how you show up in the world. So, there are choices to be made that go beyond our lives as what we do trickles into future generations.
One final way to deal with your trauma once you start seeking the help and guidance to work through what you went through is to show up for others. To create spaces for others to feel safe, to speak and share and who knows, you could be a great living ancestor as you transmute your paint to power.
This guest post was authored by Yemi Penn
Yemi Penn is an author, documentary producer, speaker, engineer, and all-around fearless thought leader on creating your own memo. A serial entrepreneur with businesses in Sydney, London and the U.S., Yemi is working tirelessly to raise the vibration of acknowledging and healing our individual, and therefore, our collective trauma. Yemi instigates us all to use our trauma as a catalyst for transformation and growth. Learn more about Yemi atwww.yemipenn.com and follow her on Facebook @YemiPenn and Instagram @yemi.penn.