Each person must define traumatic experience for him or herself. It is a deeply subjective assessment. It depends on how threatened and helpless we feel in reaction to an event. We respond to experiences differently. What causes trauma is overstimulation beyond the capacity of our endurance, and endurance capacity varies. Trauma is cumulative and as it builds up makes us vulnerable to further crises. The impact of trauma can be subtle, insidious or destructive.
We don't "get over" trauma; we bear it for a lifetime, finding ways, or not, to integrate the experience into our life. Trauma changes us. And for people who just want life to return to "the way it was", this can be difficult to accept. We are not defined by trauma, but we are certainly marked by it. Trauma is not easy to define. It can be described as the freezing of past and present into a single frozen moment. Traumatic experiences often defy understanding.
Trauma is both a process and a state of being. It is an experience of everything and nothing at once. It defies words, yet demands expression, over and over. It both demands representation and refuses to be represented. The intensity of trauma seems to make it impossible to remember or forget. This intensity which makes forgetting impossible also makes any form of recollection seem inadequate. Often the traumatic event is too horrible for words; too horrifying to be integrated into how we make sense of the world. The intensity of a trauma is what defies understanding and so a description that someone else understands seems to indicate that the trauma wasn't as intense as it seemed to be. Description seems impossible.
If we ignore the trauma, we seem to have neglected an obligation to come to terms with the horror and pain. If we understand the trauma by putting it in relation to other events, we seem to be forgetting the intensity. The dilemma is that we must tell our stories, and yet our stories cannot be told. The traumatic experience is in a sense, timeless. Trauma exists in the forever present. In order to capture the heart of the experience, we must risk another journey back to the trauma. We are both back there and here at the same time; and we are able to distinguish between the two. We remember what happened then without losing a sense of existing and acting now.
We struggle to put our experiences into words. But there are some things that cannot be said. Words seem too inadequate. And yet, it is not okay to state that the horrors of the trauma are too terrible for words and therefore must be left unsaid and unheard. Many emerge from trauma wanting to wanting to talk about what they describe as "unsayable". Despite the content of what is said, what is crucial is that it is said. The significance of sharing a trauma lies not in what is said, but simply that something is said.
To be upset about something insignificant is probably indicative of a larger problem. Insignificant like when someone forgets to say 'thank you' or disagrees with your choice of movies, or when there's no milk for your cereal, or someone cuts you off when driving on Route 1, or when you can't get your earring into the hole. or your sock slipping off inside your shoe, or when someone asks you to do something differently.
I feel so upset with myself when I look back at all the times I have reacted negatively to small things, but I know that doesn't help me move forward. Regretting my past decisions is living in the past which can't possibly help me.
Sometimes the smallest things can unhinge us, even when we are doing our best to improve ourselves and our lives. I know I'm not alone. I see it in my co-workers, family, friends and clients. Sometimes we're so busy trying to be right, that we don't let things go. We let thoughts take over our hearts and minds.
It may take courage to listen to your heart because what it suggests often seems too easy. It might say "Just let it go" or "It's no big deal" and you may be afraid you're going to let someone get away with something. When you tune into your heart, often your attitude adjusts and you find responses that are more satisfying to you.
How can I be calm? How can I let things go that cause inner turmoil?
I have to tell you that I have been crazy and I have been calm and calm is better. Life is often said to be a journey of letting go and realizing that one is already whole and complete. Inner conflict is when you're battling with yourself. To escape inner conflict, troubling thoughts must be put to rest. I can let things go and accept them for what they were.
We need to step back and ask ourselves, "Are the thoughts going through my head actually true or did I create them to be something else?"
I know the true self is not concerned with small things. The heart is where the true self resides. But without practice, it's hard to hear your heart.
I know telling myself "these thoughts are not me" can help me find calm. I know I am not my thoughts. Another way to let go is to ask myself if this will matter in an hour? A day? A week? Usually it won't matter.