Many of us have experienced trauma. It's part of being human. And while we may not like to think about it, that trauma informs every aspect of our lives. From the way we breathe to the way we make eye contact with others, everything about us is shaped by the trauma we've experienced.
Some of this is conscious—we may have developed coping mechanisms or emotional responses that help us deal with our trauma. But much of it is unconscious, too. It's simply become part of who we are, informing everything we do without us even realizing it.
How Trauma Informs Our Everyday Lives
There are countless ways that trauma can shape our everyday lives. Let's take a look at a few of the most significant ones:
The way we breathe: When we're stressed or anxious, our breathing tends to quicken and SHALLOW. This is because our bodies are preparing for fight-or-flight mode. Over time, this can lead to problems like anxiety and panic attacks.
The way we make eye contact: People who have experienced trauma often find it difficult to make and/or hold eye contact. This is because they're afraid of being seen—of being vulnerable. Eye contact can also trigger memories of the trauma itself.
Our posture: When we're constantly living in a state of fear or anxiety, it takes a toll on our posture. We may start to hunch over or tense up, which can lead to physical pain and health problems down the line.
Our coping mechanisms: Many people who have experienced trauma develop unhealthy coping mechanisms as a way to numb the pain or make it more bearable. This could include things like substance abuse, self-harm, or disordered eating habits.
Our habitual emotional response: When we've experienced trauma, our stress levels tend to be constantly elevated. This can lead to us feeling on edge all the time, even when there's no immediate threat present. We might find ourselves constantly on alert, ready to defend ourselves at a moment's notice.
All of these things shape how we interact with the world and the people around us. They inform every decision we make, both big and small. And while they may not always be positive, they're an integral part of who we are—a reminder of what we've survived and how strong we are because of it.
We all carry trauma with us in some way or another. It shapes every aspect of our lives, from the way we breathe to the way we interact with others. And while it's not always easy living with trauma, it's important to remember that it doesn't define us—we define how it affects us and what role it plays in our lives.