“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.”
— Danielle Bernock
In this piece Dr. Sarah Schewitz shares with us the first go-tools we can use when emotional trauma knocks at the door. At Philofem, we believe that wholesome healing must take place within the mind, body, and spirit so we love Sarah’s psycho-spiritual approach to healing!
Have you ever been through an experience that left you feeling insecure, anxious, and worried that you might never feel “normal” again? Have you ever felt unsafe because of something that happened to you in the past? There’s a name for these types of experiences. It is called emotional trauma, and I’m going to offer some tools on how to navigate your way through these painful events.
First, let’s talk about some of the different types of emotional trauma. This type of trauma differs from physical trauma in that you can’t see scars on your body. With emotional trauma, the scars are on the inside. Some people believe that it’s even harder to heal the wounds that can’t be seen, especially since they can be so difficult to talk about. However, with time and the right tools, healing is possible.
Some examples of events that might trigger emotional trauma include:
Death Of A Loved One
Divorce Or Breakup
Loss Of A Job
Loss Of A Pet
Loss Of Financial Stability
Loss Of Health
Loss Of A Friendship
Loss Of A Lifelong Dream
As you can see, loss is heavily featured in events that cause emotional trauma. This loss, especially if it is sudden, can cause you to question your faith in yourself, your higher power, and those around you. It can make you feel like life is suddenly out of your control and it may make you want to shut down emotionally.
Some of the symptoms that might accompany an emotional trauma include:
Rapid Heart Rate
Basically, you feel as if your world is crumbling around you, and you don’t know what to do. You might even avoid friends and loved ones, or turn to not-so-healthy coping mechanisms like drugs, alcohol, or sex with unhealthy partners to try and make yourself feel better.
While it’s certainly understandable why you might seek out self harming and addictive behaviors as a form of coping, I’m here to tell you that there is another way. Every breakdown can be the beginning of a breakthrough IF you commit to doing the work.
The first part of the work is surrendering to the feelings and letting them flow through you. Many of us try to bypass this part by using the above mentioned addictive behaviors to numb out or by going straight to doing the spiritual work without actually feeling any of the sadness and grief and anger that is boiling up inside of them. This doesn’t work. If you don’t deal with the feelings as they come up, the universe will keep sending you reminders or even more trauma until you surrender and let yourself feel.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to mope around for weeks but it’s perfectly fine to take a few days or several moments of each day to just cry it out, mope, rage, whatever you need to do to express how you are feeling. Rage is a particularly hard emotion for women to connect to because we are socialized not to express anger. Physical activities like boxing or karate can be a great outlet for unexpressed rage.
After you’ve felt all the feelings, it’s time to re-establish a routine. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy and integrating movement into your daily life. Once these things have been established, it’s time to work more deeply.
What do I mean by work more deeply? Well, I believe that everything happens FOR us not TO us. Emotional trauma is often part of our soul’s curriculum or part of the way we were put here on this earth to grow and evolve. Trauma is an invitation to get to know your true self and your true strength and resilience. Trauma can foster incredible growth. This is the time to dig into personal growth through reading, working with a coach or therapist, listening to podcasts, and doing a deep dive into yourself to understand how you can learn and grow from this experience.
Using stories, myths, and folklore as a way to process trauma can also be very powerful. Sometimes, it can be helpful to look at different archetypes – the hero, the warrior, the witch – and see whether you can relate to any of these. For example, in almost all fairy tales, the main character goes through an initial loss before gaining, or remembering, some kind of innate strength. Recognizing loss as an opportunity to remember one’s true gifts is a central theme to psycho-spiritual healing.
Nobody likes experiencing things that hurt. However, if you can learn to see your emotional trauma as something that opened a door for you to grow, you may eventually even be able to feel grateful for your experience; and with gratitude comes enormous healing.
Dr. Sarah Schewitz is based out of Los Angeles, CA and has been working with couples and individuals since 2008. She is passionate about inspiring people to dream big and achieve their “impossible” through improving their life and relationships. She feels no one should settle for a life or relationship that is not full of joy, passion, and fulfillment.
Through her coaching and therapy services, Dr. Sarah helps her clients make lasting changes that will inspire them to create a life and relationships they love!