Doing EMDR work regularly now, I am realizing how many people prevent themselves from healing simply by refusing to recognize that their problems are a result of real damage. They say things to themselves like, "Suck it up buttercup! Other people have it worse than you." They compare their pain, or disadvantages to someone else's, thereby discounting their own experience—and preventing their own healing.
They also tell me that since their experience didn't involve guns or violence that it "wasn't trauma." I disagree. In the field of mental health, we often refer to these experiences as the difference between "big T" trauma and "little t" trauma. Big T trauma is what most people consider classic trauma: experiencing a major disaster, getting physically abused, nearly dying, etc. Little t trauma describes the regular experience of what we call a "negative cognition:" repeated events that enforce a negative belief about yourself. Things like,
I'm not [emotionally] safe.
If I don't protect myself, no one will.
If I don't perform, I won't be loved.
Being emotional is weak.
I'm only worth what I produce.
My body/brain is bad/shameful/embarrassing.
All of these negative cognitions damage one's heart and mind! They make it hard for us to feel valued, safe, and connected. They prevent us from fully embracing our unique qualities and from accepting love. And that in turn makes it harder for us to love others.
Did you know that there is healing for trauma? If you can admit that something is broken, or perhaps wounded, then you can begin to heal. Your brokenness doesn't make you bad. It just means you need help.
If you like this blog, you might consider reading my book, Love Well, which is my own story of learning to be loved.