If you identify with any of the following statements (or something like them), you likely have experienced trauma in your life:
"I am unworthy"
"I am not good enough"
"I never feel safe"
"I am empty"
"I am unlovable"
There is a big gap between what people think trauma is and what it really is. When most people think of trauma, they think of someone who has survived war, sexual abuse, physical abuse, natural disaster or any other situation where their life was clearly threatened. These are examples of one type of trauma called "big T" traumas by therapists. There is another kind of trauma that can be just as devastating, but harder to identify, these are "small t" traumas. If you have identified with any of the above statements, you have likely experienced a "small t" trauma. Some examples of "small t" traumas can include:
Living with a parent suffering from addiction
Living with a family member who was/is chronically ill
Having a parent who was not available, emotionally or physically
Having a caregiver tried to live through you
An organization or authority figure who was shaming as a child
Feeling excluded or not chosen as a child or teenager
Public embarrassment or exploitation
And the list goes on. Essentially a trauma occurs whenever a person's sense of self is threatened. One thing to remember is, that as a child, our sense of self is dependent on the world around us. This means that trauma that occurs at a young age is much different than trauma an adult may experience. Because our beliefs about ourselves are shaped as we grow, these beliefs can get "stored" in us at the age they occur. When this happens, the child part in us that sees the world much differently than the adult we chronologically are, causing a disconnect between what we logically know and what we may feel about ourselves.
Now if you are thinking that this means we need to blame everyone we grew up with for our problems, this is not the case. Healing from trauma means acknowledging what happened to you, owing our own feelings about it and moving through those feelings with the goal of creating a new set of beliefs. Blaming others can keep you stuck where you are. Owning your internal truths and beginning to experience the world knowing those in a way where your head matches your heart is about harnessing your power again, and learning to thrive instead of just survive.
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." - Eleanor Roosevelt