February 23, 2011

Trauma Is Not A Competition!

"...a man's suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the 'size' of human suffering is absolutely relative." ~Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

In working with people who have experienced some sort of trauma, whether it be sexual or physical abuse, divorce, or loss of a relationship, it is very common to hear minimizing statements such as, "It only happened once," or "I know others have suffered worse things."

There is a very real psychological purpose behind minimization - it prevents the person from being overwhelmed by the experience and thoughts and feelings that come along as a result.

However, as one reaches the place where simply suppressing or managing the effects of the trauma is no longer satisfying, these minimizations need to drop away.

As I've told clients,trauma is not a competition! You don't get fewer points for being abused once as opposed to many times. As Frankl states, suffering, be it great or little, has a way of filling our minds and hearts to capacity .. taking over our thoughts and guiding our behavior.

So, rather than trying to escape the impact of the abuse by minimization, take the time to fully acknowledge the extent to which you've been changed or hurt and to what extent that experience is interfering with your life, relationships, and ability to live a life that you love right now in the present.

In doing so, you will be able to deal with the areas of your life that have been impacted rather than remaining stuck, hurt, angry because you continue to believe that your hurt wasn't "great" enough to be justified, to warrant reflection, or to deserve your full attention.

What have you been minimizing and ignoring that you'd instead like to acknowledge and heal?

If you think you'd benefit from partnering with me in answering this question, please don't hesitate to schedule a free 30 minute discovery session! I'm still offering four free sessions to all new clients, so now is a great time to experience coaching!

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