One Can Use Three Practical Steps to Transcend Childhood Trauma
Understand the true function of memory, recognise the unconsciousness in others, and believe that moving on from trauma is totally plausible.
Apr 30, 2021
First, understand what memory is. Memory is a cognitive tool, not for biased recollections of the past.
Depending on if we are born optimist or pessimist, our memory is always biased. We might have rose-tinted memories of some happier times, and highlight only the bad bits on the more stressful times.
One proof of this is how we feel after exams. Some people tend to walk out of exams thinking they have failed them because they focused on not knowing how to do a fraction of the questions; whilst some people will walk out feeling good about the exams, only remembering the few questions they knew how to do. The outcome of our exams is usually quite different from what we perceive it went.
Memory is not for defining our past but a cognitive function for survival. One typical example is that we learn from our mistake, remembering what to avoid, in order to successfully complete a task, or avoid danger, going forward. For example, we don't need to relearn that fire can injure us every time we get near it.
Knowing this is the actual function of memory, we should remember with a pinch of salt, and not overly attribute our emotions to what we remember.
From a childhood trauma perspective, the author's personal experience is that she always thought she had a neglective father. This is because all she could remember was him working too hard during her childhood. But in reality, as the author's mum recalled, he has always tried to spend as much time he could whenever he was off work.
Second, recognise the intention and unconsciousness of others. “You forgive yourself by realizing that nobody can act beyond their level of consciousness.” — Echkart Tolle
Another powerful quote from my favourite spiritual guru.
When someone did something to hurt us, ranging from the stupid driver on the road to our parents, we tended to think they did it intentionally. In reality, that’s rarely the case.
Some people may be selfish, some people might have bad execution skills, but they all act at their level of consciousness at that time.
Through psychology, we learn concepts like co-dependence, gaslighting, shaming, etc. They are all great concepts to help us analyse and understand our situations better, but we must ask the question “so what”.
Everyone, including our parents, are likely to have suffered from their own traumatic childhood experience and cultural pressures, act the way their level of awareness allows them to do it.
One way to transcend from our suffering and trauma is to remember that our parents are no superman or buddha. They are just ordinary people.
In fact, it’d seem like the younger generations are always more conscious than the previous generations. The narrative of the younger generations on expressing their feelings and mental health conditions, for example, are much more eloquent than the previous generations. They are more likely to communicate healthily and rationally.
It’s only logical that they don’t know how to do parenting and heal themselves.
Knowing their lack of consciousness can help us to forgive them. I wrote more about this in the article linked here.
And finally, one must believe that transcending trauma is plausible. As we practise choosing happiness over trauma, again and again, especially choosing to self-soothe rather than to overreact, we will learn eventually.
Photo by Mark Williams on Unsplash
Some people I know with expert Psychology knowledge is suffering more than anyone else in terms of forgiving their parents and transcending from suffering.
This is sad but interesting because it shows that knowledge itself doesn’t relieve us. What we do with the knowledge does.
If we believe we are screwed for life because of these reasons and traumas, then we will continue to react the same way with future triggers. The point of psychology and therapist is so that we become aware of the big picture so we don’t do the same thing as an unconscious person with future triggers.
It’s a choice to not react the way we used to.
From the author's own experience, it was ingrained in her memory that she had a neglective father and some other childhood trauma. She believed and confirmed with her therapist that she has developed a fear of abandonment. The author doesn't like being left alone, it’s a big trigger.
So when her partner was super busy with his job, his startup and his social life, the author can feel this triggers the fear within. However, this was also the opportunity to transcend from her childhood trauma.
She noticed that there's a choice: Do we react like we used to, or do we self-soothe with empirical evidence that we are loved?
To transcend from childhood trauma is a tough journey. Initially, most might find that they keep failing to make the right choice - i.e. to choose happiness over fear. There could be tears of fear and vulnerability, we could act like a child because the triggers are too overwhelming. A supportive friend or partner might need to learn to soothe the triggered person.
However, as we practise choosing happiness over trauma, again and again, especially choosing to self-soothe rather than to overreact, we will learn eventually.
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