The Truth About Trauma (And Why You Should Care)
By Dr. Elena Villanueva
Host of the Mastering Trauma Masterclass – 5 Part Series
With the global events that have transpired over 2020 and 2021, many of us have become more aware of the stress and dis-ease in our bodies and in our lives. As a result, many of us have resolved to live better.
To begin, we are shedding old habits and beliefs that we didn’t realize were keeping us on the same road, not allowing us to have better results for whatever we were trying to achieve. Some of our old habits and belief systems got shaken to the core when lockdowns started. For many of us, it was enough to wake us up to see possibilities for better lives for us, while for others it created more fear and struggle.
My husband and I read an article the other day talking about how thousands of people are not returning back to work, even if their company is protecting their medical rights to not force vaccinations. They are not returning because they finally had their patterns interrupted (during the lockdowns). They were finally able to see other possibilities that provided them with what many of them have always wanted – more time with their children, the ability to work from home, to be able to travel with their families and still get some work done. If we learn to look at new possibilities, lives CAN and DO transform into what WE want them to be.
However, there are many who have suffered greatly since all of this mayhem started in March of 2020. Jobs were lost; homes were lost; relationships were lost, creating more hardship and compounding the trauma in these individuals. I say compounding because it was those who were already in a state of trauma before the events of 2020 who suffered the greatest.
When you are already in a state of ‘Amygdala Hijack,’ it becomes almost impossible to see your way out of a rough situation or to even conceive of other possibilities or outcomes that are far better than what you are going through at the moment. This only leads to deeper trauma and keeps you spiraling down into that endless pit of suffering and misery.
If this is happening to you, it could be the result of unresolved and repetitive trauma. By even talking about busting myths and the stigma around trauma, you can begin the process of becoming aware of it. This is the first step to overcome your past and heal from it.
What we’re going to dive into will leave you with a new perspective and awareness around trauma, emotions, and belief systems that have led to the biggest global health disaster of all time. And it will begin to show you answers and solutions to overcoming trauma and how to understand the enormous power of your mind and your perception. My intention is for you to read this and feel inspired, and hopeful to regain your sovereign power to heal and create the reality that you want for yourself and generations to come.
Trauma and our emotions affect our innermost sensations and our relationship to ourselves, others, and our physical reality. The core of ‘who we are’ gets severely affected when we undergo trauma. This results in a fundamental reorganization of the way that our mind and our brain perceive ourselves and the world around us. Trauma not only changes how we think and what we think about, it changes our capacity to think as well as our capacity to think logically to determine a real threat from a perceived threat.
Busting eight myths about trauma
There is a lot of stigma around trauma, leading people to think they are broken, unstable, and ultimately leading them to lose hope. With all that has transpired over the last 18 months, more people than ever have been seeing the effects of how their trauma and unprocessed emotions are affecting them. I have written this article to empower you, inspire you, give you hope, and bust some of the common myths surrounding trauma.
The truth is we can ALL heal from our trauma, we don’t have to fear those ‘dark’ emotions. Our ‘demons’ can become our greatest allies and our minds can become our greatest servants. We can learn that our healing comes from within, not from a pill. We, and many other trauma experts around the world, are showing people how, because NOW is the time! And the great news is that we don’t have to suffer any longer, nor do we have to suffer to move through and heal our trauma.
Healing our own trauma will not only create transformation for ourselves, it will heal our children and give our future generations liberation from generations of trauma that we have unconsciously been holding onto. Becoming aware of what trauma really is and how you can heal from it begins with educating yourself. Let’s look at 8 myths surrounding trauma and how these myths have been busted.
Myth #1: People can never heal from their trauma.
The truth is people CAN and ARE healing from their trauma WHEN they work with trauma experts who understand that trauma isn’t from the event itself. This emergence of the real understanding of what trauma is has changed the way trauma experts are able to help their clients. The understanding that trauma isn’t the event itself but rather what happens inside the body as a result of a heightened emotional experience that was perceived as threatening, dangerous, frightening, or unsafe in any way has changed how experts are approaching trauma work around the world. Even the old allopathic medical system understands that the neurological and biological effects of trauma live in every cell and organ system in your body, including your DNA, and that trauma, when not effectively addressed, ultimately leads to most of the chronic diseases we see today. Yet their main solution is still the outdated option of pharmaceuticals to try to resolve the problem.
The outdated model and methods for dealing with trauma, from the perspective that the trauma was the event itself, and that trauma needed to be fixed with talk therapy or pharmaceutical drugs, are archaic and have failed on a massive scale. This archaic approach to trauma has created devastating outcomes for thousands of veterans and civilians around the world. This has led our planet as a whole, to be sicker, with more chronic illness than we have ever seen in the history of man. The good news is that the new emerging models and modalities for addressing trauma are highly effective and are being widely accepted because of their consistent positive outcomes for people around the globe, busting the myth that people can never heal from their trauma.
Myth #2: People never overcome it – that it’s a life sentence
This is such a damaging and hope-stealing myth. The truth is that anyone and everyone CAN overcome trauma. The answer lies within and learning how to rewire your neurology, see perspectives that empower you, and gain the wisdom from the event such that you become the victor rather than the victim. With the right coaching, anyone can learn how to overcome their trauma. Attaching to a myth like this only serves to further disempower those who have been suffering from trauma and the first step in tossing this myth to the curb lies in releasing the attachment to this unserving belief.
Myth #3: You only experience trauma after a life-threatening event.
While most think of a life-threatening event as one that involves experiences like assault, rape, a shooting, a bad car accident, dismemberment, etc, most don’t realize that even something seemingly ‘uneventful’ could be ‘life threatening’ from the perception of the person who experienced the ‘uneventful’ experience. This could look like a child losing their parent in the grocery store, or a child (or even adult) witnessing others yelling, or intensely arguing or fighting. It could also look like the loss of a job or the loss of a friendship. Understanding that trauma is the result of how a person perceives an experience and the story they create around that experience is critical to understanding how to then resolve and heal from that trauma.
Understanding this fundamental truth around trauma is paramount to understanding why and how everyone has had trauma in their life. This also uncovers an awareness of how our cultural and religious belief systems, in many cases, create our perceptions around seemingly uneventful experiences, that ultimately lead to trauma in so many people. In addition, social constructs and belief systems in almost every culture have created a strong framework built on the emotions of shame and guilt, which easily trigger the fight-or-flight response in the brain, causing the inability to see all possibilities and create outcomes from experiences that leave us with wisdom and empowerment.
Myth #4: PTSD only affects soldiers in the military.
While the term PTSD was first created to describe the effects of trauma in our military servicemen and women, over the years it has extended into the general public as a ‘diagnosis’ for those who have been unable to have a resolution from their unprocessed emotions or trauma. It is most likely accurate to say that in 2020 and in 2021, PTSD hit the majority of the population of the planet, creating a ‘pandemic’ of mental health and other physical effects including trauma.
The reality is that PTSD is a ‘diagnosis’ (which leads people into the unserving belief that they are ‘broken’ and have a ‘disorder’) and one that the old medical model approaches have had almost no success in effectively curing. Instead they ‘treat’ the ‘disorder’ or ‘diagnosis’ with pharmaceuticals. The problem is that while drugs can be effective in covering up the symptoms, they are not fixing or curing the underlying cause of the trauma. This is why most people who are ‘diagnosed’ with PTSD are on medications and why they cannot get off them. They can’t get off their meds because the problem has not been fixed yet. Unfortunately, many end up with subsequent additional problems because of their long-term use of medications.
The truth is that PTSD is a condition that results from unresolved trauma and unprocessed emotions. It is not a ‘disorder.’ And the great news, again, is that there are amazing and effective tools and modalities available to get to the underlying cause. You can rewire the neurology of the brain and body and show these people who have been suffering that they are NOT broken; they never have been. They just didn’t have the right approach in order for them to heal and now trauma experts around the globe, including us, are educating and teaching on the most effective solutions. People can now reach out for help and get the results they have been looking for.
Myth #5: Trauma makes people unstable.
Societal constructs that label people who are experiencing shock, panic, fear, and anxiety as being ‘unstable’ are one of the most damaging and shame-inducing societal frameworks which have caused so much needless suffering and illness across the globe. The real problem here is the societal teachings that we have all learned, which have created a global society of people who know nothing of emotional intelligence nor how to navigate intense ‘negative’ emotions. Even to say that we have ‘negative’ emotions shows our utter lack of emotional intelligence. The real myth bust here is the belief system that all the actions and symptoms associated with ‘instability’ are not normal. When a person experiences an event that they perceive as threatening in any way, their brain and body instantly rewire, creating new neurological pathways and alterations in their biological systems in order to prepare for survival. The problems start to occur when the mind and body don’t realize that the threat is over or when the mind and body get stuck in that ‘amygdala hijack’ state resulting in the inability to control one’s perceptions or see other possibilities
The actions and symptoms of ‘instability’ are really actions and symptoms of a person being stuck in their trauma, being stuck in their state of fight or flight. Working with trauma coaches who understand this and know how to deactivate the fight-or-flight response and move people through their mind and their body through the trauma, and teach them how to navigate their emotions AND that ALL their emotions serve a purpose and are acceptable, not only provides a safe space and path for healing, it also removes the stigma, label, and shame associated with being ‘unstable’ and replaces that myth with truth, compassion, love, and real solutions.
Myth #6: If you’re strong, you can make it through trauma by yourself.
Let’s explore what it really means to be ‘strong’ in the sense that if we are strong we can deal with our own trauma. Does strong mean we do it ourselves? We power through and push it down? How about the possibility or even truth that being vulnerable is to be strong?! Have you explored how the definition of strong has worked for you? Has your definition of strong given you the results you’ve been looking for? If it hasn’t, I invite you to explore another definition of what it means to be strong, and that lies in being vulnerable.
Many don’t realize that the response of being fiercely independent, doing it all by ourselves at any cost is actually a deep-rooted trauma response as a result of you trying to protect yourself. When our brain and body rewire themselves for protection and think it has to always protect from harm at every turn, our ability to connect to others diminishes. We hide our true thoughts and feelings from others, only showing them what we think they want to see rather than showing them who we really are. Many of us end up ultimately numbing our feelings and emotions from our trauma in order to keep them under control. Many chose self-medication like alcohol, food, self-harm, work addiction, porn, and sleep – all of which lead down the road to more trauma, shame, pain, disconnection, and loneliness. In the end, we find ourselves still stuck in the same suffering with no resolution.
At Modern Holistic Health, we invite our clients to adopt a new definition of ‘strong’ when it comes to dealing with trauma, which is to open up to the possibility that vulnerability is the new strong. Providing a safe space to practice vulnerability leads to great outcomes and the ability to rewire any previous experiences that led us to believe that we would get hurt (again) if we are vulnerable. It is through vulnerability that you find your own power, your own truth, and your own healing. Creating a sense of safety that allows you to speak your truth, express yourself, and be authentic with yourself and others is paramount to healing trauma. It’s one of the first steps in creating your successful roadmap for trauma and emotional healing.
Myth #7: Nothing good ever comes from a traumatic event.
Nothing could be further from the truth. When you are ‘in’ your trauma and perceive that it’s all happening ‘to you,’ it can be easy to feel this way. However, there are inspiring stories all over the world dating back thousands of years in recorded history of those who sustained massive repeated trauma and went through horrific experiences, who ultimately found their power, healed from their trauma, integrated their mind, body, and spirit, then spread healing, light, and hope around the world.
Even in my own life, I can see how my experiences and trauma have created exponential love, healing, and hope for thousands around the world. The power, wisdom, and strength (vulnerability) that I have gained on the other side of it happened for me, not to me. It gave me gratitude and wisdom that healed the anger, shame, guilt, and sadness… in the end. Once I started working with experts who taught me how to navigate and heal from my trauma and how to navigate and understand the reason for emotions, my life transformed. I was inspired to become trauma-informed and extensively trained in trauma work. At Modern Holistic Health we not only have healing and transformation programs with an amazing team of trauma experts working with clients around the world, but we also teach and certify coaches and practitioners in trauma work as well.
Myth #8: The only treatments for trauma are talk therapy, psychotropic drugs or other medications, or even surgery.
Since the onset of mass pharmaceutical use in the 1970s, the United States and other countries around the world have seen staggering and frightening increases in ALL diseases, including mental health disorders and neurodegenerative disease. This is compelling evidence that pharmaceuticals are not and have not been created to cure anything. While medications do have their place and can save lives, they are not meant for long-term use. Not only do pharmaceuticals not cure diseases or conditions, they certainly don’t ‘cure’ trauma. In fact, 99% of all pharmaceuticals, whether prescribed or over the counter, lead to at least 3 other conditions. This is why we see most people start with one medication and, over time, end up on 3 meds, then 5, then 15…because the medication caused more problems (and never fixed the first one to begin with).
The fact is we have done better and there ARE answers and solutions that are effective for overcoming trauma, unprocessed emotions, and the chronic illness that result from long-term trauma. Healing is not found in a pill. Healing is found from within and working with experienced coaches or practitioners who can show you how is priceless. Getting your life back, your health back, your joy back is priceless. Being able to feel again and connect again and love again all starts with you and taking that first step.