When you’ve experienced trauma in your life, it only makes sense that you’d want to forget the situation (or situations) altogether.
In attempts to erase the memories from your mind, you might suppress the experience, brushing all traces of it under a proverbial rug or to the four corners of your mind.
After all, we human beings are hardwired to escape danger. And when your memories feel as though you’re in danger, fleeing is undoubtedly a natural response.
But it’s not the best response to trauma. In fact, suppressing traumatized thoughts and feelings might feel good for one moment, but in the long run it holds you back in life.
Here’s why it’s important not to suppress the trauma.
Suppression Prevents Healing
As much as we’d benefit from trauma healing as effortlessly as a scraped knee, for example, that’s just not the case. The impact of trauma is deeper—like a crushed bone–and takes deliberate treatment to properly heal.
With this in mind, suppressing trauma is not unlike ignoring a crushed bone. Although your body tries to foster some type of healing, it’s really forced to just compensate for the compromised area.
What this does is prevent proper healing. It’s more than healing with a scar. Rather, it’s not healing at all but a simple shifting of “bone fragments” to reposition the wound.
Suppressing trauma simply redesigns your wounded fragments, per se, and undeniably prevents you from healing.
It Compounds the Problem
Because of the constant shifting of your wounded inner parts, trauma often causes other issues—anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
It’s not uncommon for your mind to hide traumatic memories, rendering you unable to retrieve them. You may know that something is off but find it hard to pinpoint where the uneasy or complicated feelings originated.
In short, this is trauma at work. Because of how much it can cause you pain and the unique way your entire system works to get rid of it, suppressing trauma compounds the problem.
Of course, in retrieving those memories, you likely want to avoid reliving the entire experience all over. Yet, it’s vital to process traumatic experiences. Which is why some therapeutic treatments such as EMDR are so effective—it allows you to process the trauma, but bypasses the emotional association.
Trauma Informs Your Whole Life
Unsurprisingly, the impact of trauma can surface without you really knowing it. It can be surprising, and it’s usually negative. Really, trauma functions in your body and mind like a devious jack-in-the-box, popping up when it’s triggered.
The human body is amazing; it never forgets. Your body will store traumatic experiences for your entire life. And the primary way of reclaiming some sense of normalcy is to process those experiences.
The trouble with trauma is that it can inform every area of your life. Without you realizing it, trauma changes the way you view the world, how you interact with others, and the relationship you have with yourself.
Suppressing trauma works like a water system, trickling down from the most hidden part of you to your everyday behaviors. The way to safeguard all the parts of you is to challenge the trauma, allowing yourself to fully process it.
It Influences Your Entire Body
Trauma has a way of impacting your nervous system, trapping or freezing your defensive instincts on overdrive. Unchallenged trauma only allows those memories to influence your entire body even more.
This “freezing mode” often results in unexplained aches and pains, sleeping issues, digestive problems, inability to concentrate, etc.
As mentioned, your body remembers the trauma that you experienced. To suppress trauma means putting your physical body under intense strain. And trauma is very difficult to store.
Your flesh and bones frequently can’t handle the pressure and pain stirring inside of you. As a result, you hurt in various ways.
To help your body find a reprieve from this storage responsibility, it’s critical that you allow your mind to process the trauma.
Take the first step…
If you are ready to address the trauma that may be impacting your life, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT