Life is unpredictable, and some incidents or events leave an indelible impression on our minds and hearts. It is said that the longer we live, the more inevitable it is that we will experience trauma or mental distress. Trauma can be defined as the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness and dismay, diminishes the sense of self, and shrinks the gamut of feeling emotions and experiences. While there is no yardstick or object five criteria to evaluate which events will cause post-trauma symptoms, circumstances typically involve the loss of control, betrayal, abuse of power, pain, guilt, and/or loss. It takes the shape of a perpetual psychological war, which leads to a complete disdain of self and reduces the willingness to be happy. The experiences eventually transcend to be haunting and dreadful, which comprises the peace of mind of a person. A constant restlessness and anxiety prevail in mind, and it, in turn, engulfs all the positive thoughts, turning them into tormenting emotions.
Traumatic situations that cause post- trauma symptoms vary drastically from person to person. It is indeed very subjective, and it is essential to bear in mind that it is defined more by its response than its trigger. Trauma can have both apparent and hidden effects. Just because you can’t see the “injury” doesn’t mean it is non-existent. It is a negative emotion that is known to impact every aspect of life. The inception of trauma may trace its roots from childhood and can impact the way the body chemically responds to stress. In many cases, unresolved trauma can affect the ability to verbally recall memories. Traumatic events take a tremendous toll on the body, mind, and spirit. It needs to be addressed and treated properly. Else, the aftereffects can result in unresolved trauma, which is dreadful.
Signs of Unresolved trauma
There might be a plethora of reasons which can lead to trauma. From the death of a loved one to the end of a meaningful relationship, can all be contributing factors of the same (trauma). In many cases, these emotions are repressed for long, and people pretend to be perfectly, whilst the reality is strikingly contrasting. If the trauma is not dealt with in a proper manner, it can take the shape of negative emotions. Then it becomes hard to recognize trauma on the surface and especially within ourselves. There are signs of unresolved trauma, some of them are enumerated below:
Trauma is known to skew the self-image and take a serious toll on self-esteem, especially if its rooted in early childhood experiences. Ceaseless neglect and abandonment can lead to the path of questioning self-worth. Many people struggle to feel good themselves and have a sense of dismay towards sense. Those deep-rooted emotions scar the image of self for life and make people feel worthless.
Trouble seeking for help
Past experiences of mistreatment from others, make people restraint when it comes to communicating and opening up to friends and dear ones. Consequently, it makes it difficult for people to seek help or assistance for problems. They choose to suffer silently, with a veiled visage of smile and joy, instead of reaching out to others for help. They may fear rejection or judgment from others and thereby tend to oppress their feelings before others.
Being Control Freak
The innate need to stay in absolute control and to feel frustrated when things don’t go in the predetermined pattern can be seen as a sign of unresolved trauma. Wanting to stay in absolute control can be rooted in a traumatic experience that renders you feeling vulnerable and helpless. Hence, you tend to micromanage everything to make sure that everything goes the way it is supposed to and reduces the chances of deviation. There persists a constant fear of anything going wrong or failing.
Trauma has tonnes of psychological effects, and it is not uncommon for victims to have times where it is hard for one to concentrate. Those unwanted and disturbing incidents keep flashing over and over again and disturb the concentration levels. People sometimes suffer from blackouts, memory gaps, and losing a trail of thoughts or emotions.
This is one of the most common signs of unresolved trauma of psychological imbalance. Addictive behaviors especially turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling as a way to push difficult emotions and upsetting trauma content further away. It is kind of a break free from reality so that people don’t have to encounter their true emotions.
Disorganized attachment patterns
Due to those pent up unresolved emotions, people tend to develop disorganized attachment patterns. Here the person can encounter a variety of short but intense relationships or refuse to have any relationship or may even have a dysfunctional relationship. These patterns indicate that the victims are so traumatized that the idea of having a stable relationship becomes very daunting to them.
Living with resolved trauma is a very dark state to survive in. So being suspicious of positive change can be a sign of the same. Whenever something good happens in life, it sets in the sense of guilt or shame to celebrate happiness. People become very cynical towards everything positive and try to resist the same. They feel that they don’t deserve anything good, as they continue to live with unhealed trauma.
Hurting self and others
People experiencing unresolved trauma often tend to lash out at people for no reason. They push their loved ones away and isolate themselves whenever they have to deal with something. Hurting from unhealed trauma can lead to unintentionally hurting oneself and others. People become very emotionally volatile, oversensitive, and out of control easily, which may cause self-harm. They tend to isolate themselves completely and continue to have an emotional imbalance.
Yoga and meditation to heal unresolved trauma
Research has proved that yoga has many physiological and emotional benefits that can help fight mental conditions like trauma and depression. Many practitioners have experienced that yoga has been an indispensable tool to overcome unresolved trauma, as it brings in the sense of calmness and tranquillity in the body and mind. Yoga and meditation can be seen as a form of physiotherapy for those who have experienced severe emotional damage. Some of the yoga and meditation poses for trauma re:
Madhukasana (Frog Pose)
This deep hip opener pose is great for beginners. People tend to carry a lot of stress in their hips, and this pose is quick to make them aware of the same. Establishing a strong mind and body connection is one of the first steps of healing from past traumas. Yoga for trauma is a very helpful tool in order to attain this balance and also gives a safe place to explore the sensations of the body. Frog Pose helps to form a strong body-mind bond and give the space to feel and be held simultaneously.
Tadagasana ( Pond Pose)
Binding in the diaphragm can be the result of panic, which can be caused by unresolved trauma. Stretching out the body in pond pose lengthens the abdominal cavity and opens the chest so that the diaphragm can move easily. When the breath is free, the nervous system is calm, and we feel less desperation. It is highly recommendable to people suffering from unresolved trauma.
People with unresolved trauma and often guilty of running away from their feelings as they feel uncomfortable or afraid. The hamstrings are an important part of our fight to flight mechanism, and some believe that people hold grief in the hamstrings, which is one of the most difficult emotions with which to stay present. Pyramid Pose releases the hamstrings and contracts their antagonist muscles and the quadriceps.
Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand)
The human head weighs around 8-10 pounds, and handling the same is quite a task. Many of us jut our heads out in the front of our torsos, creating strain, instead of moving from our pelvis. While performing Salamba Sirsana, the head is forced to align with the body. It tends to improve the alignment of the whole body while strengthening the neck muscles. This position helps the practitioner be focused on the present and resisting the mind from dwelling in the past or future.
People suffering from unresolved trauma often experience a whole scene played before their eyes, scene by scene. They lack a deep connection between the body and mind so as to be able to conquer those dreaded emotions. Meditation helps in achieving awareness and mindfulness of the breath, which is especially useful for trauma survivors, who tend to hold their breath as a way of not connecting with the present moment. The core practice of healing trauma is learning how to feel strong emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them. Practising meditation and yoga helps the survivors in responding to those emotions better and helps in creating a psychological defence to deal with those complex emotions. Healing trauma is a day-by-day journey requiring courage, resilience, and faith. Yoga and mediation can be crucial support in the journey from trauma to wholeness.