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  • Writer's pictureSu Chaw (Su)

Three things I have noticed in my trauma clients

It's easy to misunderstand people. It's even easier to misjudge someone else's actions. For most of my trauma clients, they seem to be (often) both misunderstood and misjudged for being too sensitive, too emotional, too angry, too reactive, too clingy or just simply "too much" in general. What do you think it does to them?

  1. They start to feel unsafe with themselves

When someone is repeatedly told that they are too much to handle, it is possible that they may start to not trust their own instincts. They may feel like crying or expressing a need but they start holding it back, swallowing or suppressing their needs. This results in wells of emotional energy being held in their bodies that result in them feeling psychologically unsafe with themselves. It may result in isolating more, having suicidal thoughts, or becoming stuck in dark places in their minds that are hard to get out of.

2. They are unable to get unstuck

What do I mean by hard to get unstuck? Rumination. I have noticed that because trauma can hurt self-esteem, self-confidence and sabotage people's sense of compassion for themselves, it keeps them in a rut. Clients may think of one event again and again, often going through the painful memories again and again in their minds. This results in them becoming dysregualted for hours or days and ruminating on isssues with no solutions.

3. They learn to ignore their own needs

My clients are often told that they need to stop thinking about a topic (they may be ruminating on) and that they are overreacting to something small makes them feel even worse than they already do as it invalidates their feelings. This in turn makes them adopt these sorts of ways to relate so themselves. For example, a parents might have said "Calm down. It's not a big deal. What is wrong with you? Why are you still thinking about this from weeks/months ago?". The message here is how you feel doesn't make sense. Just stop it. This can get reinforced by a partner who says the same things. Both of these interactions teach my clients that their needs don't matter and they should "tone it down" - giving them the message that they need to ignore their needs because they are simply too much.

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