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How to overcome trauma

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Many of us have experienced some kind of traumatic event in the past, and we can take steps to heal.

First of all, what is trauma?

A trauma is a psychological wound that people suffer as the result of a negative event or a series of negative events in their life, which can affect them dramatically, causing lasting pain and emotional suffering. Trauma can change our brains and our personality, and therefore affects our attitudes and behaviors both in the present as well as in the future.

It’s important to clarify that sometimes trauma is the result of a perception, and not what has actually happened. For example, as a child someone may feel rejected or unloved, but this doesn’t mean that, in fact, they were not loved. Nevertheless, since they experienced it that way, they will suffer all the consequences of emotional trauma of it.

Who suffers trauma, and why?

Anyone can suffer trauma, at any age. Nevertheless, people are most vulnerable to trauma during childhood and adolescence, because that’s when they are more strongly affected by what happens to them, for good or ill. At these ages, people don’t have a well-defined personality yet, and they don’t have well-developed abilities to deal with events and situations that negatively affect them.

Some things that happen in childhood mark us forever; how long and how intensely they affect us depends, above all, on the gravity of the event and on the frequency and intensity with which it occurred.

How to overcome trauma

We can’t control whether or not we will experience a trauma in our life. If it happens, the important thing is to face it and not allow it to dictate our lives Therefore, experts recommend the following:

1. Accept the past. Our lives are full of experiences and memories, some good, and others sad or painful. The problem arises when unpleasant experiences leave a deep mark on us—that is to say, when those memories are especially intense for us, and cause us deep pain and anxiety. It’s fundamental that we discover the origin of these feelings so we can learn to face the problem, and in this way, be able to solve it.

2. Turn to friends and family for support. Sometimes, there are organizations and support groups that we can turn to, according to the kind of trauma that we’ve suffered. Victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse, for example, can often find specific organizations and centers that offer, among other things, help for dealing with these traumatic experiences.

3. Seek professional help. Sometimes, the cause of the trauma isn’t clear. The best thing to do in such cases is to discover the cause, so you can understand the problem and, based on that knowledge, find solutions. It’s best to go to a professional so that, through therapy and other interventions, you can discover the origin of the problem and find healing. 

4. Overcome feelings of guilt. There are people who feel guilty for an event that traumatized them. They think they could have avoided it, or that they were the ones who provoked the situation. In these cases, the first thing they need to do is overcome this feeling of guilt. It needs to be clear that they are victims, and did absolutely nothing to cause what happened to them.

5. Make changes to your behavior. This consists of changing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Such changes are necessary when irrational conduct results from a traumatic event. A professional can help you understand the irrationality of these behaviors and deconstruct irrational ideas, teaching you to modify them or change them for healthy alternatives.

Family support and a healthy and stable emotional life are the most effective means for overcoming situations of conflict and personal trauma. Love is marvelously effective at helping to heal our deep wounds.

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