I call trauma the subconscious effects imposed on a person through interactions.
A person; alternatively mankind, one(self), the author, the reader, we, and the applicable derivatives of all the former = any being capable of reading this text.
Trauma is directly correlated to the importance we place upon said interactions.
It can dictate something as mundane as whether you wipe your ass standing up or sitting down. Something more impactful, like a person’s sexual preferences (beyond gender). Trauma can dictate your defining traits (it can separate a killer from a saint).
For the sake of this piece (specifically), trauma means both the good and bad. I am expanding the definition of the word, or better yet, stripping it of any perceived ethical implications or judgement. Laying it bare, purely for the sake of this analysis, to mean nothing more than the unsolicited residual effects of single or cumulative interactions.
I am doing so, because it clears a path to a much easier analytical framework. Now… we can focus on trauma and its effects on a purely pragmatic, and thus simpler, fashion.
To quickly provide better context of trauma in its different forms (or through different sources), I will use extreme examples. To do so, means running fast and potentially ruffling some feathers. It is not my intent to offend, but purely to use these examples for their practical use.
Reminder: we are purposely withholding matters of judgement, for the sake of analytical dissection.
Examples (not exhaustive):
1. Trauma through the unknown. This is why “our firsts” are memorable. They’re new, the excitement and/or fear that we feel from it (and thus, the implicit importance we assign to it) tend to imprint in our memories.
2. Trauma through pain and suffering: Just like scorned dogs, human behavior can be guided and curtailed through physical and emotional abuse: slavery, Stockholm syndrome, battered spouses, physically abused children.
3. Trauma through gain: They say only those already born to wealth or good looks claim they don’t matter. Analogously, people who grew up without wealth and then proceeded to attain it, may go to great lengths to keep from losing it.
4. Trauma through awareness. The deeper you go, the murkier it gets. Awareness of our impending death, is the chinese water torture of life. The awaiting darkness behind our mortal coil, has driven many a man mad.
Trauma is unavoidable.
All we can (and should) do, is attempt to steer clear of any foreseeable hindrances. Like warriors leveling up through a quest, we must steer clear of all avoidable damage along the way. Damage reduces our chances to successfully progress through the game of life .
However, we must remember that trauma (in itself) is only powered by the importance we give to it. And while there are (undoubtedly) great lessons that trauma can teach us, which improve our chances of success in life. Using trauma, as opposed to being defined by it, is a strength; and failure to do so, a weakness.
As good a lesson as trauma can provide; being able to objectively analyze and assess its net benefit or detriment, is healthier and more logically sound than not doing so.
And by definition; the only way to objectively analyze something, is by not taking it personally.
Easier said than done…. I know.
So let me “preach it down”, and conclude in a more direct manner.
Trauma often leads to circular (self-reinforcing) behavior; it is important to recognize when it is.
Let’s double-click on that.
Trauma often (certainly not always) leads to behavior which creates either vicious (bad, or detrimental) or virtuous (good, or constructive) cycles of behavior (some examples in next paragraph). The problem with these cycles is that the good ones can switch, while the bad ones rarely do. Thus, keeping track of all self-reinforcing cycles is key.
Examples for clarity:
· Bad (Detrimental) Cycle — Children who experience domestic abuse during their formative years are more likely to display violent behavior as adults. Thus, risk creating a negative cycle of domestic abuse. A child of domestic abuse has no fault whatsoever upon the harsh circumstances of her birth, but does well to overcome said trauma. Overcome, in this example, meaning: to understand the negative effects caused by said behavior and restrict herself from continuing said pattern as an adult, especially against a child. She must separate her own self from her past trauma; take the good and discard the bad.
· Good (Constructive) Cycle — Children exposed to parents with strict work habits are more likely to value hard work as adults. Nevertheless, to an extreme, an unbalanced work-life can lead to long-term unfavorable results (workaholism; deterioration of family dynamics). Once again (regardless of the apparent positive nature of her cycle), she must objectively separate herself from her own past trauma, to understand that working habits are only as good as their ability to be sustained (take the good, discard the bad).
However, it’s not always as easy… The lines tend to become increasingly foggy as one pushes further away from the extremes. Only when things show a clear path, are they easier to recognize; but also, correspondingly harder to stop.
This is, again, why objectivism is key.
A tougher matter to dive into (of many), are people’s sexual preferences.
It is the author’s opinion that, while inherently inborn, these are undoubtedly affected (to some degree or another) by trauma . Thru the interactions and examples that one is exposed to during her formative years, even our inborn preferences are (to some degree) affected. A person who grew up a in a house where monogamy and family unity were strictly upheld (even if at least perceptibly), is prone to value said traits in a sexual partner.
Reminding the reader that all comments are devoid of judgement. It is no one’s place to judge, but one’s own. In this work, good and bad, are simply what create either a gain or loss of wellbeing, respectively.
So, what does this all mean then? Beyond the rant, that is.
Trauma can be both good and bad. It is often impossible to open oneself to one, without (even if inadvertently) doing so to the other.
However, given that good trauma can lead to wellbeing, the best way to maximize wellbeing is to sustainably maximize our ability to process as much trauma as possible, while still being able to successfully take the good and discard the bad.
Failure to successfully process trauma leads to net loss of wellbeing.
It is up to each of us to find the amount that sustainably maximizes our own.
Ceteris paribus, increasing the amount of bad trauma we can sustainably discard, increases our ability to maximize wellbeing.
Foresight = Vision, see The Game.
In my own, albeit controversial, opinion.