I Haven’t Had Any Trauma in My Life? Or Have I?

Trauma is something that seems easy to define, but it’s actually more complicated than it seems. Many people think of the most severe types of trauma. They think of severe avoidance, immobility, and intense emotion reactions.

It’s true, that these things are reflections of traumatic experiences. However, there are more subtle signs as well. There can be relationship struggles, feelings of being uptight, and difficulties receiving affection can all be from subtle, traumatic experiences. There can be simple elements of unfinished business that can build up over time.

What makes this even more difficult to identify is that it can be from subtle things, early in your life. The need for comfort with a scary situations, medical issues during childhood, etc. There can also be shame responses that weren’t processed through.

These subtle symptoms can also be reflections from your adulthood too. You might have medical trauma from your adulthood, such as a cancer or HIV diagnosis. The social stigma and history of fear associated with these diagnoses can make them still difficult to handle.

Sometimes, by doing the best we can to experience our jobs, be present in our relationships, and live our busy lives, we actually make coping difficult. And it’s hard to know how and when we’ve gotten in our own way.

The symptoms can be difficult to identify, but the origins can be even more complicated. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to identify the original source to process through this. In fact, remaining in the present is sometimes that best way to work through this.

This is not necessarily PTSD.

When people think of trauma, they think of PTSD. This is an outcome of trauma. But there can be traumatic symptoms, without actually meeting the criteria for this diagnosis. So it’s important to know that you might still have something to work on, even if you don’t meet this criteria.

In other words, you might benefit from trauma therapy even if you don’t meet the PTSD diagnosis criteria. There are several well-respected ways to deal with trauma. EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, and Post-Induction Therapy are few of the types of therapy that are correlated with trauma treatment. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy also is known to be effective for some.

You might consider trauma-based therapy if you’re experiencing emotional dysregulation, such as uncontrollable anger, recurrent anxiety, or depression. Such therapy can also be useful in physical symptoms that are coming from an emotional place.

Other evidence of emotional dysregulation can come from numbing behavior. Consistent behavior to help you disconnect from things that you vow to work to stay more connected to can be a sign of subtle trauma. Therapy can help you understand the impact, and work through unfinished business.

It’s simple to overlook the possibility that trauma impacts your life in subtle ways. For those who are able to tend to their day-to-day lives, it can seem good enough. But if you’re struggling to find contentment, and you don’t know why, this may be one place to look.

If you do look into this space, it’s important to do it with a professional. You don’t want to create trauma from experiences that didn’t happen in your life. This is something that can happen if you’re not careful. So explore this territory. Identify what you need now, but do it with caution. In time, and with support, you’re likely to find the space of unfinished business, and work with it so that it doesn’t have to stay with you.


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