It Affects us All
TRAUMA: Getting to the CORE Issues
Here at CORE, we have a favorite saying that comes up often, especially with new clients who are struggling with overwhelming shame about themselves, their circumstances or their choices:
"Trauma is an equal-opportunity invitation. Whatever struggle you’re suffering, chances are you’ve come by it honestly."
In other words, while each of us IS responsible for ourselves and our behavior, we are NOT responsible for environmental factors that taught us to function in self-destructive or self-sacrifical ways.
Trauma is real.
Trauma is powerful.
Trauma is an explanation, not an excuse.
Trauma is your problem, but trauma’s not your fault.
Why Trauma Matters
Most clients seek treatment hoping to change something about how they behave; the rest seek treatment to change something about how they feel.
For human beings, there’s an important connection between these things. We tend to employ behaviors based on our feelings about ourselves and others. These feelings are dramatically influenced by the messages we experience and internalize from the human beings who surround us.
While some experiences originate in adulthood, many of these messages trace back to childhood. We often refer to these as “attachment issues,” identifying their early genesis in our birth families, or "families of origin.” Attachment issues are most significantly developed between the ages of 0-12, then are meaningfully reinforced during adolescence.
During these stages of child development, any significant negative experience (even the “little” stiff we sometimes downplay) is traumatic. Many of these traumas are felt, diffused and dealt with positively, managed quite well with help from loving and supportive adults. But when these developmental traumas are cumulative and compounded, or ignored and unaddressed, they can result in deeply entrenched and mistaken beliefs about who we are—despite the fact that they rarely represent the truth about our true selves
As the result, many human beings emerge into adulthood with a foundational premise that “I am unworthy.” We metabolize those traumas as evidence of our deepest, most unbearable fears: that we are indeed unlovable, less than, not enough or too much, defined by our many normal human imperfections. Consciously or unconsciously, we seek to meet impossibly high standards. Then, because we cannot help but fail, we prove the presumption that we are worthless, inept or inadequate.
For most of us, that feeling of inadequacy is utterly and excruciatingly unbearable. Our souls and psyches were not created to bear the weight of such perpetual self-incrimination! So what happens next?
Our trauma results in mistaken beliefs.
Our beliefs result in unbearable emotions.
Our emotions result in desperation for relief.
Our desperation results in dysfunctional (maladaptive) behaviors.
Our behaviors reinforce our trauma.
Our trauma creates and procreates harm, against ourselves and our closest loved ones.
When trauma goes untreated, choice-based behavioral change can be effective in some meaningful ways—but without a journey to resolve the trauma that created those once-mistaken (now self-malevolent) beliefs about ourselves, we CANNOT change the core beliefs that either keep us from (or lead us to) our true selves.
So Where Does This Leave Us?
Trauma must be addressed, or it will continue to drive ever-deepening levels of shame, dysfunction, depression and anxiety, leading us to escape via obsessive, compulsive and addictive behaviors.
Here at CORE, we treat trauma as it presents in each of our clients—whether that client is a child or an adult, a man or a woman, a lust-driven addict or a sexually betrayed partner. We don't discriminate against you based upon the experiences of others who share your gender or circumstances, nor do we make judgements about anything that happened to you before you walk through our doors.
Instead, we get curious, and we stay supportive. We follow your lead, and we listen carefully. We ask you all the right questions to learn what we need to know to help you help yourself. As we do, we ask you to trust us—to trust our training, our experience, our reputation and our passion for healing trauma survivors.
And as we do, we’ll hold fast to the principle and promise that is echoed in this favorite quote: "Trauma creates change you don't choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose.” —Michelle Rosenthal