“I feel like I’m damaged goods.” This statement and other similar statements can come from people who have experienced trauma. The trauma may have been a sexual assault or other crime, it may may have been a toxic relationship, it may have been a near death experience. Why so often do survivors believe these events leave them forever damaged?
Trauma does change us. Some of what it can impact includes how we think, the emotions that we feel, our behaviors, our physical response to stimulus, and more. This is a normal response to an event that has shook our world. In time, many will return to their previous (or similar) way of functioning. Some may do this naturally on their own and some find their way back with the support of others.
There are people who hold the belief that what happened to them has left them “damaged.” Trauma impacts our view of ourself and our place in the world. It’s not uncommon to have thoughts like “I’m bad”, “This was my fault,” or “I have no control.”
I think we like to believe that awful things can’t happen. When something awful does happy we try to figure out why. We want to know what we can do to make sure something awful never happens again to ourself or to loved ones. We start to come up with reasons and justifications like “If only I had…” The amount of victim blaming that we hear in society, especially around sexual violence, further compounds the blame that we place on ourselves.
Through the support of loved ones it is possible to begin changing the way we think about our trauma. When someone says to us “it’s not your fault” and “I’m here for you” it goes a long way. We no longer feel alone. Their statements of support start to counter the self blame statements that are in our head. The more we hear these statements of support the more we start to believe them.
Therapy can also help us to heal and to shift those negative thoughts about ourself. EMDR therapy helps the brain to process an event. Instead of having a negative thought about ourself we have a positive thought like “I’m good,” “It wasn’t my fault,” and “I have control.” IFS therapy helps us to release the negative energy, thoughts, and emotions about an event. Once that unburdening happens it invites us to take in other positive qualities like calm, confidence, connection, and courage. EMDR and IFS are two of the therapeutic approaches that can help individuals to heal from their past trauma.
Through support and therapy a person can reach a different understanding of the event(s) and the meaning can change. It no longer defines the person. It is part of their story but it’s a matter of pages and not the whole book. Experiencing trauma does not mean that a person is damaged. The person may change in some ways or their path may change. Life changes us in all sorts of ways.
“Yes I have been through awful things. It wasn’t my fault though. I’m strong. I’m going to do amazing things.” This type of statement and other similar statements have come from people that have worked through their trauma. I have heard these statements from clients in my office.
Are you ready to start your healing journey? Contact me to make a therapy appointment.