Do you sometimes feel victimized, beaten down, and out of control emotionally? Are you a hot mess? If so, you are not alone. Everyone has life trauma, especially during these uncertain times. By setting bravery goals, YOU can shift NOW from VICTIM to VICTOR, using your life traumas and emotional triggers as tools to transform your life. How can you do this?
Emotions: The Spice of Life or Too Hot to Handle
Emotions are like spices. A little hot spice can make life more colorful, delicious, and delightful–but don’t swallow a mouthful.
A few days ago I was creating miniature pizzas. I added sauce, avocado slices, mozzarella cheese, herbs, and basil tomato sauce. I continued decoratively adding spices, not thinking about the consequences. When it came time to take the first bite, I was surprised to taste a mouthful of pepper. Not wanting to be wasteful, I ate it anyway. Later, my stomach was not happy with my decision. I knew then, that a better decision would have been to throw it out and begin again. My comfort and well-being is worth it.
Learning to love our emotions is a key component and gateway to feeling in control, discovering our life purpose, and transforming our lives.
Emotions are like spices. A little hot spice can make life more colorful, delicious, and delightful, but don’t swallow a mouthful. We need our feelings to help us navigate through life. But it’s about balance. If our emotions are out of control or we overly dramatize, amplify, or build upon our emotions, we will create a toxic situation. We want to build an amicable partnership with our emotions to boost our transformational power. Life traumas trigger a truckload of emotions and can send us spiraling out of control. There is hope. You can get back behind the wheel and in control of your emotions, even during uncertain, stressful, and traumatic times.
Hey, is that You Hiding Behind a Life-Trauma Mask?
Life trauma can dramatically affect self-identity.
Are you wearing a life-trauma mask? No worries. Most of us are. Trauma is part of navigating through life. We might complain and say, “My ex-husband was an alcoholic,” or “I have chronic back pain.” As life-changing as these experiences are, this is a mask of our true identity as a limitless, powerful, spiritual being. However, as we will learn later in this article, there are different types of trauma. If you are in the midst of a dangerous, life-threatening, situation, this exercise is not your first step. Instead, you must seek help immediately. Call your local or county social services department or a help crisis line. This link is a good place to start. You are lovable, valuable, and important. The quality of your life matters.
This article iis about facing past traumas and moving from victim consciousness to victor consciousness. Life traumas dramatically affect self-identity. We all experience trauma, but before we decide to try to remove our life-trauma mask, we need to take a good look in the mirror. If you’re not in immediate danger and are ready to step out from behind the mask of trauma-victim, this is a good place to start. First, let’s look a the types of traumas. Traumas are generally divided into three categories:
- Acute (a single event)
- Chronic (ongoing trauma)
- Complex (multiple traumatic events).
What are Some Common Acute Life Traumas?
Most people have experienced simple, acute trauma. Common life traumas occur as we navigate through childhood to adulthood. Here are some of the most common:
- being a child of a broken home (separated or divorced parents)
- moving to a new home
- peer pressure
- puberty or menopause
- starting a new job
- workplace stress or deadlines
- death of a family member, friend, loved one, pet
- getting a new housemate (or cohabitant leaving)
- getting married
Birth is a welcome life trauma event that triggers a variety of emotions.
- giving birth
- personal breakup, separation, or divorce
- being fired, or work position eliminated
- standing trial or testifying before a judge in a court of law
- financial difficulties
Let’s Look at Severe, Chronic, or Complex Life Traumas
Severe, chronic, or complex traumas are more serious life events that may be ongoing or multiple traumatic occurrences.
- emotional abuse, harassment, threats, or bullying
- domestic violence, family violence, dating violence
- plane, train, car, or another vehicle life-threatening accident or collision
- sexual assault, abuse or rape
- physical assault and battery
- kidnapping or attempted kidnapping
- community violence (shooting, robbery, burglary, etc.)
- natural disaster (hurricane, fire, earthquake, etc.)
- war or political violence (terrorism, refugee, etc.)
- homelessness, living on the street or in a shelter
- incarceration, arrest, imprisonment
- starvation or extreme physical deprivation
I am not my trauma label. I am a spiritual being. And as a spiritual being, I am limitless. You are too.
We all are susceptible to emotional triggers from trauma. And I am sure you would agree that these are quite gloomy and horrible for anyone to experience. Fortunately, most of us have not experienced many (or any) of these profound or severe life traumas. I have experienced all of the common, acute traumas and eleven of the severe, chronic, or complex traumas, some multiple times. But, I am alive, laughing, and doing a happy dance every day! After years of recovery, I have learned valuable techniques to help me use my past traumas and emotional reactions to create balance and harmony in my life. Today my default emotion is joy, gratitude, and celebration. With the help of intensive therapy and a life coach, I have learned techniques and skills to shift from victim to victor. I am grateful for my traumas because they have allowed me to be successful as a compassionate, caring therapist, and coach. I am no longer living behind a mask of my trauma labels. I am a happy spiritual being. And as a spiritual being, I am limitless. You are too.
Let’s Start with Your Self-Identity. How Do You See Yourself?
We judge, rank, label ourselves, and decide who we are based on how we compare with others in similar life situations.
Let’s get real. As I mentioned earlier, life traumas dramatically affect our self-identity. If you genuinely want to change your life, you must first take a good look in the mirror. How do you define yourself? Most of us determine who we are based on life relationships, achievements, events, and feelings. We say, “I am a student,” “I am a home-owner,” “I am a domestic-abuse survivor,” “I am diabetic,” or “I am nervous.” We judge, rank, label ourselves, and decide who we are based on how we have faired in life situations. Some common categories include:
- Relationships — mother, son, boyfriend, ex-husband, boss, neighbor, stranger, widower, divorcee, parent
- Occupation — teacher, computer programmer, babysitter, musician, mechanic, waitress, volunteer, doctor, hairstylist
- Rank Status — winner, loser, drop-out, owner, assistant, over-achiever, novice, apprentice, leader, professional, competitor
- Illness or Health Condition — asthmatic, paraplegic, deaf, healthy, depressed, allergic, far-sighted, stutterer
- Traumatic Life Event — domestic violence survivor, homeless, jobless, broke, assault victim, a victim of child abuse
- Weaknesses or Less-Redeeming Qualities–pouty, critical, lazy, thoughtless, angry, sloppy, frightened, oblivious, nervous. evasive, unreliable, explosive
- Redeeming Golden Qualities –creative, mechanical, kind, insightful, happy, tuned-in, patient, compassionate, brave, focused, smart, peaceful, responsible
Who are you? You are limitless and unstoppable.
So who are you? Take an honest look and see the limitless possibilities of who you are and who you were meant to be. You are limitless and unstoppable.
Remove the Target and Shift from Victim to Victor
It’s time to remove the target.
It can be challenging to honestly face and love your less-redeeming qualities. You might feel bullied, targeted, ashamed, or afraid to face your faults. In that case, it may feel easier to close your eyes and hide. But if you see these less complimentary qualities not as unfavorable, but as qualities that are not yet golden, you can clearly discover your life mission and purpose. It’s time to remove the target. These less golden qualities are essential to discovering our transformational power. When we choose to love and nurture our weaknesses, these qualities will become beautiful, brilliant, and golden.
Use Your Superpower to Go From Trauma to Transformation to Triumph
“You have the superpower to use your trauma memories to take the necessary step toward life transformation .“
How can you move from trauma to triumph? The key is to embrace the emotion and not hide from it. Each life trauma generally creates profound emotional reactions or emotion-based judgments and opinions. New life traumas, whether mild or severe, can trigger memories and reactive patterns from previous traumatic events. You can use traumatic memories to take the necessary step toward life transformation.
For example, when I was a young mother, I lived in a women’s shelter for domestic violence. It was a time when I needed to work through many emotions: grief, anger, hopelessness, frustration, and shame before I could fully love myself and take a step forward. Years later after my divorce, I started a new life and new marriage. Then our financial situation changed and we needed to move a smaller home. That triggered past memories of homelessness and instability.
New similar life traumas, trigger old emotional reactions, which can sometimes be inappropriate and escalated.
Although the situation was quite different and less traumatic, my emotional reactions felt the same. This is not uncommon. New similar life traumas, trigger old emotional reactions, which can sometimes be inappropriate and escalated.
Trauma treatment can include medications, hypnotherapy, play therapy, trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and others. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps children or adults identify the trauma, emotions, and self-limiting beliefs and take steps forward to transition or shift from trauma with “bravery goals.” Let’s take a closer look at cognitive-behavioral therapy.
A Case Study: Angel Uses Her Superpowers and Reclaims Her Life!
Angel reclaimed her life by identifying past or current traumatic events, related emotions, and taking the next step. You can too!
Angel was driving home from the store and a man backed out of his driveway. He almost hit the front of her car. She swerved out of the way, preventing a serious accident but pulled over to the side of the road, experiencing feelings of panic. The driver drove off, unaware of the potential accident. After spending a few minutes recuperating emotionally, Angel called her friends and family, emotionally enraged at this stranger. She could not drive the car home and a friend picked her up. Later, she settled down with her journal, writing out the incident and further exploring the frightening sensations. As she closed her eyes and felt these emotions, she remembered a traumatic experience she’d had fifteen years ago.
Angel took baby steps toward facing and accepting her trauma triggers.
It happened while vacationing in Florida, many miles from her home and family. Angel was hit by a car and went into a spin, crashing into the side of the road. She spent a week in the hospital, separated from her family, who were unaware of what had happened. This incident had brought back old feelings of panic, fear, and vulnerability. But Angel knew how to use triggered emotions to identify the trauma and set several bravery goals as baby steps to move toward feeling safe driving again. She spoke and wrote about her feelings and beliefs to shift from panic to purpose. Angel soon was able to get back into the car and behind the wheel. You, too, can reclaim your life by identifying your emotions and shifting from trauma to transformation.
A Transformation Exercise For You
Let’s get started. Look in the mirror and identify those icky feelings.
Ready to take off the mask and transform your life? Let’s get started. We will create a chart with three vertical columns. The far left column will be where you will list the emotions you are experiencing. As I mentioned above, the first step is to take a good look in the mirror. Identify those icky feelings. There might be one or more feelings. For example, Angel put the word “panic” and “helpless” on her list.
So, close your eyes once more and get in touch with that feeling. What is the traumatic event that triggers that emotion or feeling? Write this down in the middle column. Angel identified all of the emotions as being related to her traumatic head-on collision.
Imagine a spectrum of colors. Within every hue, (whether it be blue, red, yellow, green, etc.), you will see the colors range from pure white to dark black. It is also true with emotions.
Now for the third and final column. Close your eyes and imagine that these difficult qualities are qualities that are becoming golden redeeming qualities. They are actually positive qualities, that are not yet perfect. Imagine that you are looking at a full spectrum of colors on a color chart. Within every hue, (whether it be blue, red, yellow, green, etc.) you will see the colors range from pure white to dark black. It is also true with emotions. For example, panic is not totally negative. It is not totally dark and without color. If we look carefully we will see its positive colorful qualities.
In this far-right column, write down how this emotion (or emotions) can help you transform your life in a positive way. For example, Angel discovered that panic is like a fire alarm, telling her that something is potentially dangerous. However, sometimes that fire alarm keeps going off in minor situations. We overreact. Her rage toward the man was overreacting. After the incident, she decided to check out her environment, take safety precautions, and protect herself if needed. She took responsibility for not seeing the car pulling out of the driveway. She let go of her anger toward the man.
Angel learned that when she doesn’t take responsibility, trust herself, and her intuition, she starts feeling helpless.
The feeling of helplessness helped Angel realize that she had been ignoring her gut and intuitive instincts. There were other incidences in her life where she had chosen to ignore her inner guidance, not take responsibility for her life, and become angry at the thoughtlessness of others. Angel learned that when she doesn’t take responsibility, trust herself, and her intuition, she starts feeling helpless. She decided to spend some time journaling and writing down her instincts before blaming others.
After spending time discovering the blessings of these challenging emotions, the final step is heartfelt appreciation. Close your eyes and express gratitude to your emotions for helping you take these next steps.
You’ve Got This. I Believe in You.
Okay. I’m not saying it’s fun. Letting go of the victim consciousness and choosing to take full responsibility for our health and happiness is not an easy path, especially for those who have experienced severe, chronic, and complex life traumas. No one should have to endure horrible, acts of violence, pain, and tragedy. Yet, it does happen. It gets easier. You can do this. First, take care of yourself. Then start reclaiming your life and taking steps to love your emotions.
It is possible to go from victim to victor. You are an incredible, brilliant, brave, being. You have within you this amazing superpower to transform your life. With the help of loving and supportive friends, family members, and trusted health and wellness professionals you can gain control over your emotions and learn to use your life traumas to transform your life. Embrace your emotional triggers. They are the secret to success. You’ve got this. Take it step-by-step. I believe in you.
References and Resources
Devilly, GJ,; Spence, SH,; et al. The relative efficacy and treatment distress of EMDR and a cognitive-behavior trauma treatment protocol in the amelioration of posttraumatic stress disorder, Journal of anxiety disorders, 1999 – Elsevier
Feeny, NC; Zoellner, LA; Foa, EB, Anger, dissociation, and posttraumatic stress disorder among female assault victims, Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2000 – Springer
Ironson, G, Freund, B, et al, Comparison of two treatments for traumatic stress: A community‐based study of EMDR and prolonged exposure, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2002 – Wiley Online Library
Lee, C; Gavriel, H; et al, Treatment of PTSD: Stress inoculation training with prolonged exposure compared to EMDR, Journal of Clinical Psychology, First published:19 August 2002
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Remedy Live – 24/7 Anonymous Crisis Chat
Trauma Survivors Network
Veterans Crisis Line
Jean Voice Dart, is a published author, speaker, transformational coach, and wellness coach, and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist (RMT), Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder, and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, a 501(c)3 health education nonprofit organization. To find out more about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance visit www.montereybayholistic.com
Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products, and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.