Trauma + Internal Inquiry

Apr 07, 2023
Trauma and Internal Exploration

"Wonder is the beginning of Wisdom." ~ Socrates


On Internal Inquiry + Trauma


Sometimes the hardest direction to look is inward.


We all have aspects of ourselves that we don't like. We all have done things we are not proud of. We all sometimes behave in ways that we wish we didn't.


Being perfectly imperfect is part of the human condition.


All people have regret.


Trauma can take this to a new level, though.


Trauma often puts us in a position to choose from a menu of bad options. Children who are being abused by their caregivers are often presented with uniquely painful choices that place love and safety in competition with each other. Often, we will choose love over safety because without it, anything else doesn't have much meaning. Not even safety.


In case you missed it, here is a link to a blog post on Childhood Trauma:


It places us in a no-win situation and also changes the way we behave after the fact.



Some of the effects of trauma include:


-Social isolation and disconnection from those we love

-Emotional dysregulation


-Reckless behavior

-Efforts to numb overwhelming emotions or imagery using substances or other forms of addiction

-Distrust in others, ourselves, and the world

-Disrupted sleep (further challenging our ability to manage emotion and behavior)


Many of the behaviors or emotions that are consequences of history can seem alien, confusing, and as though one has departed from who we knew ourselves to be.


Sometimes, we violate our own values or principles on the heels of history or in the context of interpersonal abuse. Again, a traumatic situation is typically void of healthy options. People do the best they can at the time but then carry the weight of shame later.


Shame becomes this sort of wall that makes looking inward quite uncomfortable. Intolerable, even. The avoidance of looking at ourselves then becomes the mechanism of maintenance. Things don't change without an internal assessment. But gosh, it can be so painful to introspect in this way.


If we can give ourselves enough grace to turn inward through a lens of curiosity and compassion, this is where we can find our footing again.


Wonder really is the beginning of wisdom.


When our clients ask us or themselves why they behaved a certain way, it's often with a tone of exacerbation or judgement.


If that question is posed to me, I encourage a true inquiry that is rooted in wonder rather than judgement.


Behavior is generally purposeful. Emotions have reasons.


We just need to understand the purpose behind the problem.


There is a great book called "Feeding Your Demons" by Tsultrim Allione that offers some wisdom on how to relate to the aspects of ourselves that are more troubling. In the event you are curios, here is a link to the book on amazon:


Essentially learning more about ourselves through a lens of curiosity and openness strengthens our ability to determine how we want to behave in the here and now.


Internal inquiry:


-Offers choices that did not exist in the past.


-Provides opportunity to make meaning of our history + to find purpose in response


-Softens shame


-Allows us to make room for self-forgiveness


-Provides insight to the protective nature of trauma-generated responses


-Highlights the fact that when we are presented only with bad choices, we are going to make a bad choice.


Looking inward is the beginning of making change, allowing us to integrate our past into the present, make meaning of it, and to utilize it to become a stronger and more dynamic version of ourselves.

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