005B. A Conversation on Overcoming Trauma

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Key Quotes:

We acknowledge success, but recovery from trauma isn’t a priority. The priority is to get back to work. You’re socially obligated to do a lot of things, but healing isn’t one of them, at least, unless you actually can’t work anymore. – Andrew Gilley

Trauma is invisible unfortunately a lot of the time as well, because it’s like these invisible scars that are imprinted on your psyche and your body, and they completely alter the way that you perceive and then thus navigate the world around you. – Wesley Jackson

Episode Summary:

In this episode, we delve into the unseen realm of trauma. Unfolding like a hidden chapter in one’s life story, trauma silently weaves its tale through personal distress, leaving invisible impressions on the mind and body. But what happens when our fast-paced, technology-driven world intensifies our exposure to traumatic events?

We trace the outlines of this delicate issue, shining a light on the invisible wounds many carry, with the COVID-19 pandemic as a poignant example. We question how coping mechanisms, like emotional detachment, might shape our worlds and why empathy and compassion are vital in helping others navigate through their painful pasts.

Does denying trauma merely amplify its shadows, or does acknowledgment open pathways to healing? We ponder this crucial question and underscore the significance of facing traumatic events head-on.

We highlight how trauma indiscriminately affects everyone, disproportionately impacting certain groups. In revealing these truths, we gently urge a shift in perspective—an intentional mental pivot—to steer us from involuntary reactions to more mindful responses.

We explore how engaging in open conversations about trauma can cultivate healing. Unraveling the complexity of this silent malady, we reveal its unexpected potential to ignite personal growth and profound transformation.

Finally, we share how acknowledging and recognizing the presence of trauma is the first brave step towards healing. Piecing together the puzzle of past experiences and their mental implications can bring about a profound sense of understanding. 

Dive with us into the realm of collective healing, where shared experiences are the stepping stones towards empathy and connection.

Full transcript:

[00:00:00] Andrew Gilley: How do you think overcoming trauma is related to mindshifts?

In today’s self-help podcast episode, we explore why overcoming trauma is worth revisiting today in that context of mindshifts. We then examine the nature of trauma and we share insights we have compiled to effectively handle the difficulties we may all encounter with overcoming trauma.

Welcome to Surviving Humanity: A Self-Help Podcast, where we shift your perspective to help you overcome the obstacles in your life. We are Wesley Jackson and Andrew Gilley, and we hope to foster a sense of connection and community over our common struggles while providing you with tools to overcome them.

As always, our FacebookSubreddit, and Twitter are the best places to go for community, connection, and support. Links to these are in the show notes.

So, let’s get started.

Let me ask you a very basic question. What is trauma? Open that can of worms.

[00:00:41] Wesley Jackson: It’s deeply personal, complex, and it’s this multifaceted phenomenon that goes way beyond the realm of just simple definitions. Both you and I know that and have experienced that. Liken it to this like kind of tapestry, which is your narrative or your story, and it’s woven from all these threads, which in this case of trauma are distress, hardship, pain, and more often than not, generational suffering, at least in my own case. As I learned from my own family dynamics that this kind of trauma, let’s call it cycle, had very little to do with me actually at the time, and more so to do with the way my parents were raised by their parents. It just became this kind of cyclical feature.

It’s not only affecting the individuals who directly experience it, but also their descendants, in my case, for example. Because trauma, if it’s unresolved, that is, it leaks out in your behavior, right? Trauma is a lived experience. It’s the aftermath of events that were just too overwhelming to fully process at the moment that they occurred.

Your mind just shuts down in order to protect itself from the amount of pain and suffering that you’re experiencing, essentially. And trauma is invisible unfortunately a lot of the time as well, because it’s like these invisible scars that are imprinted on your psyche and your body, and they completely alter the way that you perceive and then thus navigate the world around you.

What would you say Andrew?

[00:02:00] Andrew Gilley: Absolutely. Yeah. A traumatic experience itself is by its nature, highly stressful and deeply overwhelming. They’re events too big for the mind to handle, whether you’re looking at childhood abuse, grand scale disasters like earthquakes, or hurricanes, or pandemics. These things are much bigger than us and we can’t deal with them on our own.

The nature of trauma is that you can’t really recover on your own, not fully. You need help for it, you need some kind of support. Because trauma teaches us bad ways of dealing with the world. It teaches us bad coping strategies. Shutting down will work to stop the pain, but it’ll also stop everything else.

It’s emotional hardening, detaching from the world. These are the real effects of trauma that get their roots inside the psyche and change the way you relate to the world and the way you frame your life in relation to other people. It’s an event that really shatters your sense of self.

[00:02:51] Wesley Jackson: I really liked what you said there, how it, it doesn’t just stop the pain, this response to trauma within the moment of it, but it stops everything else also.

[00:03:00] Andrew Gilley: Yeah. When you learn that and do it for a long time, you’re dissociating is literally what it is.

I did that for a long time and that’s really the effects of trauma; to make sure you’re not hurt again.

[00:03:11] Wesley Jackson: Why would you say it’s relevant today though?

[00:03:13] Andrew Gilley: A lot of it is just the nature of interconnectivity with the internet and social media. Even if you’ve never seen a mugging in your life, you go home and on the news they’re gonna report on crime rate and everything like that. You’re gonna be scared of that violence. Turn on the news and there’s another war on, and now we’ve got video footage of the war. It’s all online now. It’s debilitating to be in that kind of environment.

Every technological development changes the way people relate to themselves and to the world, and we’re in the middle of that right now with the internet. It happened with the written word, and then we move from the written word to radio, to video to the internet, and each time we’re thinking of ourselves a little bit differently.

So, the ways in which we think of our minds in all these different ways are tied in with this trauma too, because these new developments in technology are intertwined with the higher levels of trauma that we’re exposed to there. We need an idea of how seeing this stuff and being around all this stuff all the time really takes a toll on you.

[00:04:09] Wesley Jackson: Yeah, totally. If it’s in your face all the time, every day, it becomes like a habit even too, like a thinking habit, right? Because if you can’t help but think about the trauma that you’ve experienced on a daily basis, you just get stuck in the negative feedback loop.

I think trauma is also really relevant today because our understanding of it, like you just mentioned, with our understanding of the brain, it has developed over years, right? Like we have deepened our understanding of a lot of things, especially in the realm of trauma.

And we now know that it’s not just limited to its immediate victims, right? It’s not just a kind of, “Oh, that happened to those people, and then it’s done, that’s their problem, that’s their trauma.”

But we finally realized, “Oh wait, there’s kind of a aftershock effect essentially, right?

Let’s consider the trauma the initial earthquake. But what happens after are all the aftershocks and those reverberate throughout families, throughout communities, generations… and I think it’s also important to understand that while trauma, is different for every single person, right?

It’s a deeply personal experience. It’s also not one that is abstract, because it is tangible and because it has actually happened out here in the real world, it has, I would say, much more significant and immediate effects as a result as well.

[00:05:23] Andrew Gilley: Yeah, I think understanding the fact that we all have access online to trauma is an interesting thing. Some people will like compulsively search out shocking videos. I did this when I was young and not really understanding how to deal with emotions.

So, you can traumatize yourself online. It’s pretty easy to do.

[00:05:41] Wesley Jackson: I was totally in the same boat. I have seen way too many people die on the internet.

[00:05:45] Andrew Gilley: Yeah, a lot of guys around our age in particular, did that. It’s a form of self-harm.

[00:05:49] Wesley Jackson: Yeah, definitely. It’s like psychological, emotional self-harm, isn’t it?

[00:05:53] Andrew Gilley: Yes.

[00:05:54] Wesley Jackson: Hmm.

[00:05:54] Andrew Gilley: So, how is trauma important to our lives here?

[00:05:58] Wesley Jackson: Like we said, trauma doesn’t just affect the person that it happened to.

It lingers and it’s like a shadow, right? Or a specter, that’s just haunting you until you actually deal with it and resolve it. And like we also talked about, it shapes our behaviors. And so our behaviors affect our relationships, right? And even our own self-image or self-worth. And in my experience – I’ll describe what it felt like, basically.

It’s like this weight that I’m feeling in my whole upper body region, I would say. And it feels like you’re just carrying, let’s say like this huge sack full of bricks, everywhere you go. And it’s not just the physical weight of the bricks, but the bricks, are talking constantly. Each of these bricks are a different traumatic experience that has happened to you and each of these bricks are representing several different negative thought feedback loops, right? And you’re holding this big bag of talking bricks everywhere you go.

This is a really weird metaphor, but yeah, I think that’s how I would say it feels and I think that’s why it’s important because there are a lot of people around you and you have no idea whether or not they’re carrying this giant bag of talking bricks or not, because it’s invisible. And you don’t know unless someone actually talks about it. And even when someone does talk about trauma, you have the issue of people’s reaction to other people’s trauma, right?

Sometimes when someone, let’s call it “trauma dumps”, and once they do that, they have a less than ideal response from the person that they were talking about this with.

It can really further scar you, because then you get yet another signal that it was not safe for you to express yourself in that case and express these deep, dark emotions that you’ve been toiling with for so long. And so I think that’s why it’s really important for people to understand it, today especially. What do you think, Andrew?

[00:07:44] Andrew Gilley: On that note, yes, trauma dumping is a thing where the traumatized person doesn’t really appropriately know how to deal with their emotions, because you’re doing yourself a disservice when you trauma dump, because like healing from trauma requires a level of trust. It’s trust in the other person. And if you just go up to a stranger and in the first five minutes do that, you’re doing yourself a disservice, even if they end up being nice about it.

Because I’ve done this before. And even if they end up being nice about it, it’s like that person didn’t earn your trust, you don’t have that sort of relationship, so it’s not fulfilling, it’s not healing in that way. You might feel better getting it off your chest, sure, but that’s not healing, that’s venting. You can vent, that’s totally fine, but we have to recognize these are separate things.

[00:08:21] Wesley Jackson: I really like that comparison between venting and like actual healing. Because venting is like when the “steam” is just too much. The heat and the pressure are too much, so you just gotta let it off just for a little bit.

[00:08:31] Andrew Gilley: Yeah, that’s different than trying to really be productive and build and, you have different energy for different things at different times, but, yeah, it’s relevant to our lives because like you said, a lot of people have it and you don’t really have any way of knowing, like you said, the invisible bricks are, to extend the metaphor a little further:

…and sometimes one of those will like fall out and land on someone’s toe, you know, that’s the way it works. Trauma’s gonna make you act badly. It’s gonna make you do bad things and you’re not really gonna know why a lot of the time, that’s the scary part.

Sometimes you don’t really understand why you’re doing stuff. So, it’s important to our lives because if you aren’t traumatized yourself, somebody you care about is; you likely know somebody.

So, knowing that people can be hurt this way and approaching that from a place of compassion is really important.

[00:09:11] Wesley Jackson: Yeah, I agree. I think you’re a hundred percent right. Every single one of us knows someone, if not our own selves, that has gone through trauma. Just with, the last few years, right, with the whole COVID-19 pandemic.

That was a collective trauma experience, pretty much, that I think every single person had to go through in some way, shape, or form. And it looked completely different for every single person. Everyone has a story from those years, and it’s different, but at the same time, it’s the same. And so I think one thing though that’s important, in terms of how it shapes our lives is this kind of reframing of, “Yeah, trauma while it’s a part of our past, it does not have to dictate our future. Like we have the power in ourselves to make that choice, we just, like you said, we need help.

This is not something that someone can go through on their own, that’s the whole point of trauma. It was so overwhelming that you couldn’t do it yourself, so you had to shut your brain off basically in order to survive it.

But, what reason would you say there is for urgency, Andrew?

[00:10:05] Andrew Gilley: I think you hit on exactly what I wanted to say for this. It’s the pandemic, it’s the COVID-19 pandemic. If you did not have any trauma before, you do now, even if you don’t realize it. Because we got acclimated to mass death very quickly, and that requires sacrificing a part of yourself. When we passed a hundred thousand, they put the name of each person on the front page of the New York Times. When we passed a million, I don’t think it was in there at all, or if it was on page 10 or something like that.

We are not grappling with this at all. We are trying to pretend it never happened. We’re trying to move on. We’re trying to do anything but actually acknowledge the fact that we as a species are wounded by this because we have the shared trauma that we didn’t have before.

This is very different from the last global pandemic early on in the 20th century. We have a completely connected world now through the internet, and that trauma shares across everything now. There was a point where if you’re, like a middle class guy working a laptop job, you sit at home and the only thing you can do is look at all the news reports of people dying and you can’t leave your house. Or, if you’re an essential worker, it becomes very obvious immediately. It’s like, “Hey, we are prepared to sacrifice you and we are also not going to give you any more money.”

[00:11:14] Wesley Jackson: Yeah, it was a really ironic title.

[00:11:16] Andrew Gilley: Yeah. So in some way or another, this event really changed the way we relate to other people, like in a very literal sense, physically, we had to change the way we related to other people for a while and it’s unresolved completely and I think that’s the urgency.

The urgency is we all have this and we have no idea how to talk about it.

[00:11:35] Wesley Jackson: The news cycle moves on and the capitalist beast must continue to consume. Yeah, I totally agree with you. Like we’ve already said, trauma even on the individual level, right? You can’t just act like it doesn’t exist.

Denial does not work. It only works for so long until it comes back to bite you in the ass. And if we try to collectively deny a collective trauma experience that like everyone was there, right? It’s not like it didn’t happen. It just doesn’t work that way. And I think like you said, that’s why there’s a sense of urgency now because if this is left untreated, trauma is going to fester.

Especially if it’s on this scale, it’s gonna seep into every single facet of our lives as we’re honestly already seeing, like here within the US for example, there’s like the term collective psychosis, right? Because we are just denying that this has happened, we’re denying how badly it really shook us on an individual and a collective level, and I think to deny the pain that one has experienced and say that it doesn’t exist, just causes it to get worse.

To use another metaphor, trauma is not like this vacuum. It doesn’t happen in isolation. It’s a ripple in a pond. It is touching and influencing all kinds of facets of life, not just on the personal level, but at the societal level. And like you said, it affects our societal interactions with each other. I think the fact that we are trying to just move on already and get over it and sweep it under the rug is having this effect of a lack of empathy, as a result. Which is really sad and ironic as well because of how badly we needed that during the actual pandemic itself. And then to see things just do this kind of complete about-face and just flop right over on its head and it’s like, “Everyone who’s still struggling with this, they just need to get over it.”

And I think that kind of mentality is not doing anybody any favors because speaking on a personal level, that’s exactly what happened in my own story of trauma. Like I was basically shamed into just trying to get over what happened because everyone else was acting like it either didn’t exist or didn’t happen, or they were continuing to downplay it, or they were downplaying my own reactions, thoughts, feelings, and emotions towards what happened. And so to have that happen for such a long time – like mine was just on the individual level within my immediate family – but to have all of society treat you that way in terms of like your response to the whole pandemic, I would say is really, dehumanizing. Let’s go with that.

[00:13:57] Andrew Gilley: This word is overused to death, but it really is gaslighting.

[00:14:00] Wesley Jackson: Yeah, definitely.

Where would you say this problem comes from though, this whole notion of trauma?

[00:14:05] Andrew Gilley: We never try to deal with anything; the continuing push to move on. On an individual level, it often just feels easier to never acknowledge a bad thing and just push it down as deep as possible. This will mess you up long term, but it is the easiest way of dealing with something. And then, in general from a societal perspective, it’s just isn’t the sort of thing that our culture really acknowledges.

We acknowledge success, but recovery from trauma isn’t a priority. The priority is to get back to work. You’re socially obligated to do a lot of things, but healing isn’t one of them, at least, unless you actually can’t work anymore.

That’s what it comes from. It’s that cycle of trauma because nobody ever resolves their trauma, so they pass it on to other people. And that’s a big thing. Familial relations, their social structures, their biology, and their culture, and the way your family interacts with the world at large are going to shape you. And so if we’re starting from a place of unresolved trauma, we’re just going to move with that trauma forward, and we’re gonna be moving forward, but we’re gonna be holding ourselves back.

[00:15:03] Wesley Jackson: Yeah, I think not even just in the familial aspect, like people bring trauma behaviors into the workplace too. And I think that’s why we see such an issue with like workplace toxicity, this notion of, survival of the fittest is another one, this culture of dominance within the US. I think all of these are just symptoms of the sickness, let’s call it, that we’re collectively experiencing far before the pandemic even.

The problem also comes from, I think, at the core of it, I touched on this in my monologue episode last week, is an inability to sit with and process negative emotions, but especially sit with, because I think so many people, so many of us, especially in the US with this culture of instant gratification and fantasy even, we want to just escape from our bleak reality.

And I don’t blame people for the desire. I’m no angel. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I’ve gone through addictions. But, I think this is what it is at the core. Because we’re so afraid of these emotions because we don’t even know how to process them, that we just run away from them, whether it’s mentally or physically. And I think it’s also important for people to understand that emotional pain is just as valid as physical pain, right, and mental pain, and I don’t think that gets enough credit within our culture. It leads to this whole culture of denial around someone’s emotions. Especially with how hectic and how out of balance our work life balance is in the US, it leads to people just trying to sweep things under the rug on both sides of the equation.

Yeah, it’s a systemic problem at the core of it, and it’s an emotional one, I would say.

[00:16:37] Andrew Gilley: I was going to ask you, we’re looking at this pretty broadly, a universal perspective on trauma, but is there anyone you feel is more vulnerable than others?

[00:16:45] Wesley Jackson: I would say anyone who is already genetically predisposed to mental illness of any sort. They are definitely I would say most at risk for trauma. As well as anybody who is, let’s say, neurodivergent or neurodiverse in any sort of way. Anyone who has any sort of disability, whether it’s physical or mental, like a learning disability, like for example, dyslexia, dyscalculia, I think they’re more prone to being traumatized because of this lack of understanding of, in this case, the fact that people have different brains, and thus, they function differently.

And if you have a different brain that is hardwired differently, chemically, at the chemical level, you’re gonna have a different way of thinking and looking at things too as a result, because this is a direct, physical relation here. And so I think this particular group of people – and there’s a lot of us too – I think it’ll resonate the most with them when it comes to overcoming trauma. Because these are the people who are the most vulnerable to it and these are the people who have experienced it the most. These are also the people a lot of the times who end up becoming therapists for example.

And what they do with it after they get through it is they use it as a force for good. And yeah, that’s great and all, but I think we can all agree that the world would be a better place without so much trauma because – we need strong people, don’t get me wrong, but – I feel like we need let’s call it love much more so than strength these days, especially as we’re recovering from this collective trauma of the pandemic, I don’t think we need to be so strong anymore. I think it’s time to let go of that survival mode and enter, like you said, into that healing mode.

In order to do that, we have to acknowledge that it actually happened. What about you?

[00:18:20] Andrew Gilley: Yeah, trauma affects everybody. There’s nobody immune to trauma. So, in that sense, there’s no category of people who are protected from it. No matter how rich you are, you can have an abusive parent.

We do know who the most likely victims of traumatic events are, and those are gonna be the people who are usually the most affected by anything: non-men, young people, children in particular, working class people, black and indigenous people in the United States, and trans people. Anybody – essentially anybody who’s not “cis”. All of these people are more likely to be victims of violent crime or, sexual assault. There’s just a stark numerical reality there that certain groups in the US are victims of trauma and historically have been. Two big groups I mentioned, they’re black people were enslaved and indigenous people were nearly wiped out in the creation of this country.

When you are looking at this, how could you not be traumatized? Because you come into this world and your family is dealing with that sort of pain, the pain of being “othered”, the pain of being “less than”, and you grow up, you see that around you, and it sinks into you.

The less resources you have, the less healing you’re able to do. Like I’ve been through some bad things in my life, but I’m lucky enough to be able to afford therapy and medication and things like that. A lot of people just don’t have those options. They don’t have those tools to deal with trauma.

Like I said, you can’t do it by yourself, so that’s who’s vulnerable too: anybody isolated, alone. It’s really heartbreaking to see.

[00:19:36] Wesley Jackson: Yeah, and of course these people are gonna be angry and of course they’re not gonna stop talking about it because of what we just said: we just keep trying to act like it didn’t happen.

Especially in the case of, African American slaves, and then also Native Americans, indigenous people, both of these people have suffered an unimaginable amount of collective trauma at the hands of the people who ruled this country for so long.

And to try to deny that in any sort of way is just unthinkable. It’s very dehumanizing. And if you have generations of your family holding onto that and not being able to heal because of the fact that it’s being denied that it actually happened or being denied that it was as bad as it was, it really is no wonder that they can’t get over it still.

Every bad part of life that you can imagine happens more often to these people, unfortunately because of where their position is, like, let’s call it socioeconomic and politically speaking. And so why, like for example, you and I, Andrew, we’re obviously not indigenous.

We’re not part of an oppressed ethnicity of people we’re as white as they come, right? So why should we care? Why should we all care? In cases like this where there are specific groups of people who are experiencing trauma more so than others?

[00:20:47] Andrew Gilley: I mean, there’s a brute answer to this: it’s just like, you should care about people.

Some people find that unconvincing just as an argument itself. I think it’s the only argument that really matters. But yeah, I think we should care because these are human beings.

But beyond that, a lot of traumatized people have ways in which they’re better at dealing with trauma than we are. I can tell you this, just from personal experience. The perception of strength you were talking about earlier is something I wanna return to here because I think there’s kind of a false strength going on when you refuse to talk about things like that, and I think communities that have really suffered know a lot better how to navigate that kind of grief. We do have to remember that the US is pretty young as far as cultures go, 250 years old ish, that’s not very long.

A lot of the societies on the continent have been here a lot longer than we have, and they understand their relationship with the land differently than we do. So, one, people who have been traumatized understand trauma and understand themselves and their relationship to the world a lot better.

And hearing these stories helps a lot, not only, just because we should hear these stories, we should listen to these people, but we should also just listen to victims because they tell us things about society that we aren’t really privy to. There’s a lot of victims of childhood sexual abuse out there, a lot of them, more than you think.

And a lot of that’s the realization of talking to them and coming away from that realization that children are really vulnerable here: we don’t really talk to children, we order them around, it’s a different thing. It’s important to be able to help other people and to be able to help yourself to be able to help dig ourselves outta the hole here. To dig ourselves out of this collective trauma pit that we’ve all dug for ourselves here by refusing to acknowledge it or being unable to either because it’s too painful or because if you try to break it up, you get shouted down.

There’s a lot of mechanisms to make sure that you don’t really talk about this. And so it’s important because of the ways we can learn from victims and the ways we can restructure society to make sure there aren’t more victims of trauma. You can’t really start any kind of plan until you really know the landscape. So learning these stories is important.

[00:22:46] Wesley Jackson: Yeah. If we’re so busy talking, then we’re not working, right? And that’s not “productive”.

[00:22:51] Andrew Gilley: Right.

[00:22:52] Wesley Jackson: Yeah, I agree with you. Like we both said already, the more we acknowledge and understand the nature of trauma and what has happened on both an individual and a collective level, the better we can actually break these cycles and then ultimately cultivate healthier dynamics, not just in our families and immediate communities, but at large as a society as well.

We should care because trauma is not the end of the story. That’s not the climax, that’s just the beginning, really, a lot of the time. And, while it can serve as this really profound, positive starting point ultimately of transformation, growth, and resilience, like I already said, we’re better off collectively if it didn’t happen in the first place. And I think that is the kind of world that we should all continue to strive for. In order for us to ever actually move on, we need to actually process those negative emotions, and if it’s not happening, then it’s just gonna go on forever.

So let’s kind of shift gears, we’ve been talking a lot about trauma. Let’s now tie this topic of overcoming trauma back to mindshifts. So, how would you say that works, Andrew?

[00:23:51] Andrew Gilley: Trauma both shifts your mind and requires a mindshift to get out of. Generally, a lot of the trauma responses are gonna be negative. Shutting down or lashing out are the big two. It’s a physical response within the brain and the body; trauma does change you physically too, it changes the way you carry yourself.

So, that’s a big shift that happens and it’s an involuntary shift. So, you have to get back out of that, and you need support and help and understanding to do that, and that requires a more intentional, conscious way of changing your thinking.

That’s the big thing about the ways in which your mind changes when you’re exposed to trauma because your mind is forcibly altered and then you want to alter it back, but you can’t, You’re never going to become un-traumatized” in the sense that you can rewrite your life because our histories are our histories.

The past is the past, but what you can do is rewrite your brain to incorporate that, to incorporate support and to move forward; and that mindshift is really hard.

[00:24:46] Wesley Jackson: Yeah. We can’t deny that ultimately, it’s a destructive force at the core of it. Unfortunately, it’s up to us to pick up the pieces of what’s left over after that destructive force has, let’s, liken it to a hurricane, right, once it’s moved through our “town” and destroyed everything.

Or we can also liken it to a wildfire, right? Fire, it burns down forests, but then new life springs forth ultimately, like no matter what, inevitably, every single time. If we liken that back to trauma, It can serve as a really good catalyst for immense personal growth and transformation within a single lifetime.

And because of that, it’s a very powerful motivator on both sides of the coin. Out of anything in life, trauma, I would say, is one of the biggest make or break” concepts that exist out there. Because if you allow it to, it can define your entire existence, moving forward from that moment.

Or you can use it and grapple with it and get through the extremely difficult healing processes within it, and ultimately turn it into this positive force for good, which, not everyone can do, and nobody, not a single person on this earth can do it on their own completely.

Everybody has help in some shape or form when it comes to getting through this stuff. And I think that’s, One way to tie it back to mindshifts, for example, like you said, it shifts your mind, involuntarily from the beginning, but you have the choice and the power and the tools and the resources and the help if you are able to find it.

And that begins with understanding it, right? And that starts with the individual. So, we all hold the capacity to be able to understand what happened to us. Even if other people might deny it having happened, we know, even if we’re being gas lit left, right, and center by our family, by our friends, by our coworkers, we still know deep down inside our body and our mind what actually happened.

We are the owners of our authentic truths and lived experiences, and as a result, we have the power sitting there for the taking to take control back of that narrative and then rewrite our own story, so to speak, moving forward after the traumatic experiences. And I think that would be, in my opinion, the most powerful mind shift one can make in regards to trauma. Because otherwise it’s just all too easy to get stuck in all those cycles of addiction and negative thought feedback loops and stuff like that resulting from it.

But on the topic of that, I was mentioning the individual, right? What do you think, Andrew, that we as individuals can do about this problem of trauma?

[00:27:15] Andrew Gilley: It’s a big question and difficult to answer, but I would just say if I had to pick one thing: talk to people. Talking about it makes it better, as scary as it is, and like I said, make sure you’re talking to somebody who deserves it. Doing it with somebody you trust is important in starting that dialogue. And now there’s a caveat here, of course: what if you don’t have anybody to talk to?

And that’s really hard and there’s no easy solutions for that. But, I find a lot of people online are willing to talk about it. I found on Twitter a lot of people talking about being neurodivergent, mentally ill, I think online gets a bad rap from us too, but it is helpful to find support groups online, sometimes, if you have nowhere else to go. It’s not as good as having a friend to talk to, but it’s a lot better than nothing, and I know that from experience.

[00:27:57] Wesley Jackson: Totally. Even parasocial relationships, like an Instagram account, even that is an example if they’re posting about trauma.

[00:28:03] Andrew Gilley: Yeah, So I think. Just acknowledging it and knowing that you’ve been hurt and that you didn’t deserve that, and that, you need to take some time to heal from it, and it’s not your fault that it’s difficult to heal.

[00:28:14] Wesley Jackson: That last one is a really big one for people to remember.

It isn’t our fault that we live and have grown up within a culture that denies people’s struggles so often on a regular basis. We have no control over that, we just live in it.

[00:28:27] Andrew Gilley: It’s hard. So what’s your advice? What would you say to the individual?

[00:28:30] Wesley Jackson: Acknowledging that it actually happened, first off, step one. And then step two, trying to understand it and connecting the dots, so to speak, both in real life and then like within our own minds: “Oh, no wonder, this is why I think this, because this happened.”

And I think trying to piece together some cause-effect relationships, not necessarily all of them, but just a little bit so that you go from this kind of shift from chaos within your mind to coherence.

I think just that step alone really helps bring a lot of kind of inner peace and contentment to people because once you start to understand something, in this case, you begin to appreciate it more. And so if you learn to acknowledge and actually understand and appreciate the trauma that you went through, not like in a sense like, “Oh, thanks, I’m so glad I went through that trauma.”

But as in like appreciating the struggle that you had to go through in order to survive that and all the years that come after. You then appreciate it within other people as well. And I think that’s also a really important mindshift that we can make on the individual level is one of empathy. Because if you’ve been through shit, it’s most likely other people have as well.

And so there’s a kind of common thread that you can find within anybody, because what it all comes down to at the end of the day is we all experience the same exact emotions, whether they’re positive or negative, and that is how we can come together and heal collectively. And it does begin on the individual level, and I think it begins with empathy. I think that’s what we can do individually in order to get through all of this.

[00:29:55] Andrew Gilley: I think that’s a great place to leave it. You wanna take us home?

[00:29:57] Wesley Jackson: Let’s do it. This was a longer one than normal.

[00:29:59] Andrew Gilley: Yes.

[00:30:00] Wesley Jackson: So, thank you everyone for listening.

Tune in next Tuesday where we will have Tuê-Si Nguyen on the show to share his experience with overcoming trauma and how through our understanding of it, we may just survive humanity.

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