Repeating a trauma or giving it what it really wants

When the part of me that feels abandoned surfaces, it’s easy to want to shy away from it and abandon it again. If I do that, I repeat the situation that created it in the first place. I do exactly what it fears. If I am aware of this, I can instead meet it with presence, patience, love, and interest. And the more I do so, the more it becomes a new habit.

– From a previous (and so far unpublished) post.

With trauma, we tend to either avoid or repeat situations similar to the initially traumatic situation.

In this case, both are often at play.

We seek to avoid situations where we may feel abandoned.

And when the feeling of being abandoned is triggered, in spite of our best effort, we tend to repeat the abandoment pattern. We ourselves avoid and abandon the abandoned part of us in pain. We shy away from it.

The remedy is to be aware of this dynamic. And turn 180 degrees and instead meet this abandoned part of us with presence, patience, kindness, love, and curiosity. The more we do so, the more it becomes a new habit. And the less this part of us feels abandoned and in pain.

Some background on trauma:

I am using the word trauma here in a broad sense. Any situation that combines a feeling of threat and helplessness can create trauma for us. It can be a one time event, or – more commonly – an ongoing situation (bullying, unhappy relationship, unkind boss, poverty or financial problems, health challenges etc.) We all have trauma to varying degrees.

With the more ongoing situations, we often see that trauma gets passed on from one person to the next. Hurt people hurt people. This can happen structurally, through policies and ideologies favoring one group and hurting another. (Which, in reality, hurts everyone.) It can also happen in any kind of personal relationships.

Trauma has a bodily component (chronic bodily tension contraction) and an imagination component (associated images and words). It can be very helpful to work on both of these, for instance combining therapeutic tremoring and bodywork with inquiry and kindness practices. (Kindness towards ourselves, the parts of us in pain, and anyone in our life including whomever was involved in the initial traumatizing situation).

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