I imagine we must all have come across this word "trauma", which for a lot of people is often unheard, unseen and unresolved. Trauma is an emotional-response, perhaps to events in our childhood or our past, which then transforms into experience. It's a psychological wound that hardens us and stops our ability to grow into our authentic selves.
It pains us, and we act out of the pain
It fears us, and we act out of the fear
It causes guilt and shame, and we act out the shame and guilt...
...we are responding to what happens inside of us, in response to the event.
What is 'generational trauma?'
"We keep trying to change people's behaviours without a full understanding of how and why those behaviours arise."
-Dr. Gabor Mate
Trauma is not just personal,
It's historical, and
It's also "transgenerational".
Generational trauma, which is also known as 'trans' or 'multi' comes from a trail of dysfunctional family. It's like a fire in the wood that takes down everything in its path until one one person, in one generation, has the courage to turn and face the flames and break free from the generational trauma providing peace to all generations ahead.
We see children and adults being diagnosed with disease, physiological illness like auto-immune disease, neurologic illness, multiple sclerosis and chronic skin conditions. It is widely accepted that these all have unresolved and unrecognised emotional underpinnings and those underpinnings are rooted strongly in a person's childhood. It can also come from stressful parenting, stressful society or economy. When it's not being addressed comprehensively it just destroys and destroys and moves on from generation to generation.
For example, trauma has often been related to alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, sexual or physical abuse. But, sometimes it's also present there when we don't even realise. It's in the way:
we act, we think,
we perceive, and
...which then leads to anger, rage, envy, insecurity, over-possessiveness, the ache to become perfect, the 'don't care attitude' or being numb to situations, and this consistent behavioural response comes from "being triggered", and we are almost always totally unconscious of that.
We either then tend to become a bottler (in distracting our feelings or emotions by doing something like partying with friends, going out with friends which gives us a temporary ease) or, we become a brooder (in thinking that everything that is happening is because of me, somewhere, something I did wrong, and that I am not the good mum, sister or human being that I should be, and then you think and think some more...)
In both of these situations the emotions haven't faded away. They are just their underneath your other 'on the flow' emotions, waiting at any point, to just pop in. This happens because we are unaware of the root cause of our trigger.
When our triggers are unresolved, we still know that somebody pulled that trigger, however, who's the one carrying the ammunition? It's us. How we handle the trigger, it's our call, but we have to understand that we are the one carrying all the explosive inside ourselves.
The only way to resolve our trauma and understand our trigger is to be open, compassionate, and present to the pain and grief. When we drill down to those core stories we tell ourselves, to understand what we are believing unconsciously, we begin to understand where they came from. To know what that explosive material is we are carrying inside. To know the roots of our trigger will not only help us guide and heal ourselves, but will help us become a person where triggers affect us less, not because we are closed down or shut down or isolated, but because we are becoming aware of ourselves, and that's where the real liberation actually is. We can diffuse the power of a trigger by exposing it to the air, by acknowledging it, that it's there and we can see that. It's actually the best way to know our true selves.
Dr. Gabor Mate, says: "Only when compassion is present, it will allow people themselves to see the truth. Compassion for the fact that we are unconscious, that unconsciousness is a response because it was too painful to be conscious when we were young, not to blame ourselves for what we did as a result of that, but to be compassionate with ourselves, not to fault ourselves, what we did to ourselves and others, but to be curious to why we did it."
Generational trauma can be dismantled when we heal ourselves by being true and present to our authentic self. When we remain compassionate and curious to ourselves and to people around us. By doing this, we are not only breaking the generational trauma, but we are building a better, safer, and kinder world for everyone.
Our workplaces are full of imperfect perfect human beings who have suffered trauma. If we are to create organisational cultures that nurture and support collaboration, cohesion and agility, we need to truly address the needs we have as humans to be both connected and authentic.