The Effects of Trauma: Part I

The Effects of Trauma: Part I

Trauma affects different people in different ways. But there’s one thing trauma always does: It throws you off balance. In fact, the effects of trauma can you leave you feeling so out of sync that you may wonder if anyone understands you—including yourself!

But you are not alone. Every year millions of people experience the effects of trauma. They feel as if their lives have been shattered. But here’s the good news: Both modern science and ancient wisdom can help us not only restore our balance but also create a beautiful new mosaic out of the shattered pieces. 

Trauma, by definition, is an extreme situation that forces us to react in extreme ways. Trauma drives us to respond in ways that are different from our normal way of doing things. And that’s precisely why we feel so “off” during and following a traumatic event.

Sometimes the symptoms of trauma last long after the traumatic situation has ended. This is what psychologists call post-traumatic stress disorder—in other words, the “trauma after the trauma.” This happens when the aftermath of the trauma ends up causing even more ongoing problems than the original trauma itself.

If you have been traumatized, then you know what it’s like to live at the extremes, to feel out of sync with others, and even to feel at war with yourself. Sometimes you completely space on details...and sometimes you obsess over minutia. Sometimes you overreact...and sometimes you feel completely paralyzed. Sometimes you experience a million contradictory emotions at once...and sometimes you just feel numb. Sometimes you overthink with constant worries...and sometimes you make impulsive decisions by not thinking enough. Sometimes you over-rely on other people by acting too needy and clingy...and sometimes you burn bridges that you cannot afford to burn.

In short, not only do you feel like your entire life is off balance and out of whack, you also feel like a complete walking contradiction. With just about everything in your life, you experience either one extreme or the other—and sometimes both extremes at once!

In fact, trauma has a way of throwing people off balance in five key areas: awareness, reactions, emotions, thoughts, and relationships. So it’s no wonder that sometimes you feel “crazy.”