There are two types of trauma in the world. One definition of the word is regularly used by physicians to describe a physical injury the body has sustained, such as from a heavy falling object, or an impact with a moving vehicle. The other type of trauma refers to the emotions, which can cause painful emotional wounds and affect your sense of self. The same way a wound to your body may require medical intervention, an emotional injury requires care and attention to aid in the healing process.
Unresolved trauma can create a fractured sense of self. You are somehow not whole, and it can feel as if your personality is broken and laying in pieces. These broken pieces of your being can make their presence felt in your relationships and cause you to question your sense of worth and place in the world.
Let’s examine emotional trauma a little more, such as where it might originate from, its symptoms, and how it can influence your current relationships.
Where Does Emotional Trauma Originate from and What are Its Symptoms?
Emotional trauma can occur whenever you have cause to fear for your life or your well-being. A traumatic experience could have happened at any time in your life, such as a teacher or parent publicly humiliating you, molestation or beating, divorce, loss of a job, being sent to war, or a life-altering accident.
Regardless of when the trauma occurs, it can alter your perception of yourself and the world. An emotional injury that occurs during your formative years can have a more significant impact because we are generally more vulnerable at a young age and have not yet developed the necessary coping skills.
The human instinct is to protect ourselves from pain and hurt. The most often used strategy is to distance oneself and deny that the hurtful event even occurred. We may also disassociate ourselves from the event and repress the traumatic memory.
The symptoms which manifest from trauma can take many forms, including anxiety, confusion, depression, addictive behaviors, inability to deal with conflict, and an ingrained belief that we have no value to offer the world.
How Trauma Can Affect Relationships
Living with unresolved emotional wounds and the subsequent symptoms which manifest can have a detrimental effect on an otherwise happy, healthy, and intimate relationship.
If you bottle your feelings and push on through the pain, the wounds will fester. The trauma will spill over into your relationships and influence how you treat others, especially in intimate relationships with romantic partners.
There is always the possibility that events throughout life will trigger unresolved conflicts into manifesting as inappropriate emotional responses. The triggers will mostly be the innocent acts of others, which bear some resemblance to the original trauma.
For example, relationships with parents that were cold and emotionally distant, or parents who were physically absent most of the time, may cause you to feel abandoned and rejected when your spouse spends more time at work than usual.
The people you are close to live their lives without the filter of your emotional scars, and therefore, cannot fully understand the reactions you have to their behaviors. Where you see a personal attack, the hardworking spouse sees themselves as putting in the extra work required to secure a better future.
Tips for Resolving Unresolved Conflict
You are not alone in living with unresolved conflict, but all victims can benefit from a few tips on how to address these deeply embedded issues.
Understand how trauma affects your behavior. Educate yourself about trauma recovery or talk with a professional health care worker or therapist to bring it out into the open. You may be able to remember the event in detail, but if you don’t, the specifics are not important.
Tell your story. Create a journal to record your experiences and include both the past and present. Share your experiences with a trusted friend or counselor, and you may uncover the link between your current behavior and a traumatic event in the past.
Be an objective observer to your emotional state. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings, but do it from the position of an outside observer. For example, to an outside observer, a spouse coming home late from work will be just that. Be aware that “this isn’t that.”
Talk about your triggers. You can distance yourself from your emotional response by talking about your triggers when you notice them. When you discuss your feelings, you will come to realize that your emotions may not be truthful or relevant to what really happened.
Confront your feelings. Don’t push your feelings away. Instead, confront them by naming them. Feel the anger. Feel the sadness. Take note of where they arise in your body (do they make your throat feel tight, or do they stir from deep in your chest).
Learn calming techniques. Healing requires tools to help you find the calm in the storm. Practice techniques that will help you find peace. It could be a hot water bottle, a warm shower, or a cup of green tea. When you develop the habits of self-caring, they will spill over into how you treat others.
Consider the bigger picture. Your life is but one of many threads in an infinite tapestry, and we all have our own journeys to complete. Your past is what created your present self. By adopting a different perspective on your experiences, you can use them to craft a stronger, more compassionate, more alive you.
Don’t rush your recovery. We all need to find our own path to healing, and everyone’s journey will be different. If you notice things getting too intense, slow it down and take a minute.
Try EMDR. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, or EMDR, is relatively new psychotherapy developed to remove emotional blocks caused by trauma. In a similar fashion to how healing a wound is improved by removing the foreign body and cleaning the wound, EMDR can work to remove blockages caused by the trauma so healing can begin.
With today’s modern treatment methods, there is no need to suffer on your own. With the right professional help, you can heal the trauma of your past and live a happier life. Click here to learn more: Trauma Treatment