So many people from all around the world have grown up with a traumatic past.
Trauma or unwanted experiences in one’s childhood has the ability to wound, especially when it includes physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect.
To overcome a traumatic childhood is not an easy task or a task that is easily faced. However, it is doable. People have undesired past experiences both in their childhood and adult years, which still today can trigger stress and anxiety. The sufferer tends to believe that the stress and anxiety they are currently experiencing is directly caused by something traumatic they experienced in their past.
However, this is not necessarily true. It’s not what happened in your past that is causing you to suffer from stress and anxiety today. It’s constantly thinking about what happened in your past. Remember, the brain has a very difficult time distinguishing between something real and a vivid thought. That’s why if you think about someone you love getting hurt, even if you know they’re safe, you’ll probably feel a lump in the pit of your stomach.
The average person has thousands of thoughts every single day and for those who suffer with chronic stress or anxiety, not only are a lot of these thoughts the same thoughts they had the day before, a lot of these thoughts are either dwelling on something bad in the past or fearing something that could potentially take place in the future. If something traumatic happened in your past and you continue to think about this on a regular basis over and over and over again, your brain tends to react as if that situation that you’re thinking about is actually taking place right now and can trigger that fight or flight response.
Only considering one traumatic experience that took place in the past is kinda like thinking that one big greasy meal you ate caused you to gain 50 pounds. No one would ever think this, as it’s not one meal that can make someone gain so much weight. It’s the dozens of snacks and meals we eat day after day that can cause that kind of weight gain. The same holds true for a past traumatic experience. It’s not directly the one previous experience that’s causing someone to experience stress and anxiety today.
It’s the hundreds and thousands of times they’ve relived that dreadful situation in their mind. Every time you relive that past traumatic incident in your mind, your brain can send a signal to your adrenal glands to equip you to fight or flee. Now as you know, in this situation you don’t need that extra burst of adrenaline because you are not in any danger. However, your brain doesn’t know this and does everything it can to ensure your survival. So remember, it’s not directly that one past experience that is causing your current anxiety. It’s continually thinking about it over and over and over again in your mind.
Therefore, if thinking about a traumatic experience in your past can cause your brain to force the body into a fight or flight response, does that mean you should never think about or talk about something traumatic that happened in your past? Of course, it doesn’t mean this. If you have a history of abuse, neglect, or another kind of traumatic experience you have not adequately dealt with, sitting down and talking to a therapist or another mental health professional is very important and can be extremely beneficial.
If you were the victim of crime, chronic illness, or had to endure the pain of taking care of a loved one suffering from an illness, one of the best things you can do is to talk to someone about this experience. Never suffer in silence. We all need someone to talk to and reaching out for professional help can be so incredibly valuable and beneficial.