When you think about trauma, ideas of individuals who have suffered from a violent or sexual assault or a terrible car accident might first come to mind. But there are many more, subtler forms of trauma that can negatively impact our lives and disrupt our goals, jobs, and relationships.
As a collective culture, we tend to overlook and minimize emotional trauma. We may think we’ve “gotten past” some emotional pain when we have simply covered over and not dealt with our trauma in reality. A breakup, being passed over for a promotion at work, or even a simple but negative childhood experience can cause emotional trauma. Below are four signs of emotional trauma that occur even after subtler traumas. Read on to see if you recognize these signs in yourself or a loved one.
Stress and anxiety may occur in the aftermath of a trauma, causing you to feel inundated in numerous ways. You might feel your sense of control slipping like there is too much to manage, or that individuals in your life are demanding an abundance of time, resources, and attention. If you often feel that your life has become unmanageable, this could signify that you have some unresolved emotional trauma.
A common symptom of trauma is emotional reactions that extend beyond what might be suitable for the moment. Trauma often leads individuals to redirect their feelings of being overwhelmed towards their family members or friends. Unresolved traumas can cause emotions to be bubbling under the surface constantly, and any sense of conflict or unease can unleash these pent-up feelings. Can you recall times when you’ve overreacted or perhaps have even been surprised by your responses? This may be a sign of trauma.
Experiences of Shame
Shame and self-blame are not uncommon feelings for people suffering from emotional traumas to experience. Brené Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.” If you feel shame due to a traumatic event, you may devalue yourself or see yourself as unworthy. Feelings of guilt can leave you with the idea that you are unclean and, therefore, unworthy of admitting the experience of trauma or prevent you from seeking help.
The final subtle sign that unresolved trauma may exist is the tendency to “zone” or “space out.” Trauma can cause feelings of disconnection from others or the difficulty of staying present in social situations. Unresolved traumas often slow you down internally, muting your emotional experience, or leading you to feel exhausted. Due to trauma, you may find it challenging to express painful emotions, and so you subconsciously choose to turn those emotions off. As you withdraw, your relationships with others suffer, causing you further psychological pain.
If these signs seem familiar and you believe you may be suffering from trauma, help is available. A caring, licensed professional trained in trauma treatment can help. Take the first step by signing up for a free 15-minute consultation by clicking here.