In this Burnt Out to Lit Up Podcast interview, I chat with Alyssa Mancao, LCSW all about trauma.
Trauma is anything that overwhelms our capacity to cope. Big T’s are the wars, violence, the things you see on TV. The Little T’s are things that can happen everyday- i.e. the shame you get when your teacher gives you an odd look when you ask a question.
We’ve all experienced trauma to some degree- whether or not we develop trauma symptoms is different Alyssa explains. How we integrate the information from the traumatic event, our support system, or coping styles can affect how we experience trauma.
If a wound hasn’t been resolved, it will be repeated in our lives. Our subconscious mind will gravitate towards similar experiences, which is important for us to get to the root of our trauma. A traumatic event gets recorded on all levels- it gets recorded in our thoughts, shape our thoughts and how we feel about ourselves and others, and in the primitive part of our brain.
SIGNS OF TRAUMA
Physical signs of trauma:
- Difficulties falling asleep
- Physical pain
- Not eating enough or eating too much
Other symptoms of trauma:
- Difficulties trusting people
- Irritability, feeling on edge
A core belief that can be held in our subconscious is the belief of not being good enough, which is something that we may not even be aware of. This belief can manifest in small yet powerful whispers that we tell ourselves, such as:
“I’m not going to raise my hand because my answer is not good enough.”
“I’m not going to apply for this position because I’m not smart enough.”
FEELINGS AREN’T FACTS
Feelings aren’t facts, yet they feel so real and they can solidify how you feel about yourself. However, what you are feeling is valid and it is information. The story you’re telling yourself around what you’re feeling isn’t always true and isn’t a fact.
A technique Alyssa talks about is putting your beliefs on trial and bringing objective facts to the table. For example, if you believe if you’re not good enough because you didn’t get the job, bring in the evidence and break it down. You didn’t get the job because you’re not good enough at LIFE. We tend to let our subjectivity skew the facts.
You are not what happened to you is a mindset you can take with you to help you recovery from trauma. You grow through trauma by learning who you are and what your identity is. Connecting with your inner child can help as well. Your inner child is the first version of yourself that has experienced shame, disappointment, sadness, anger, etc.
A question that Alyssa asks her clients is: “How old is your inner child?” When they are experiencing anger or vulnerability. That youngest version of yourself screams to be heard and to be heard and understood by the person you love.
Some of the things we say to ourselves as adults can be harsh and highly critical of ourselves. Imagine that your child self is sitting right in front of you and you are saying those things in front of that child. Would you want to be just as critical, or offer more love and reassurance? Learning how to talk to your inner child gives you more compassion to others.
Our shadows are the parts of ourselves that we reject and don’t acknowledge. If we treat people poorly, there is something in them that reminds us of ourselves and we don’t want to acknowledge it.
Alyssa works with her clients using a technique called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which is a somatic therapy that reaches parts of the brain that talk therapy does not. This is helpful especially if you do talk therapy and you rationally know that you can overcome XYZ, but your body is still holding on to the trauma.
The eye movements during EMDR simulate the eye movements that occur during sleep (during the REM cycle) that helps people to process events.
The good thing about this type of treatment is that you can see small improvements occurring after each session. The duration depends on the trauma that the person has experienced.
Connect with Alyssa:
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