With a look of despair, she said “I will never be the same.” Trauma, regardless of the origin (e.g., childhood abuse, narcissistic abuse, natural disaster, stranger violence), changes us. I have spoken extensively regarding the psychological and cognitive symptoms that arise from trauma. But I have rarely discussed the other side of the coin. There are many positives that can arise from trauma, particularly after an individual has achieved some degree of balance and calm.
Trauma can make you wiser.
Please do not misunderstand. I am not saying trauma is a good thing. Clearly, trauma is an involuntary, horrific experience that happened to you. It shocked your central and peripheral nervous systems. It warrants a recovery process.
But I want you to keep in mind that although it may change you in negative ways (e.g., the creation of psychological symptoms and pain), it can also facilitate growth. You can blossom from this experience and move forward realizing your full potential as a human being.
Did you know, I never would have created Neuroinstincts to help victims of narcissistic abuse had it not been for my intimate experience with a psychopath? Yes, I hate that I went through such agony and pain. But going through that also created changes in my personal and professional life. It propelled me to share neuropsychology with an entirely different population of people – not only my patients. I am grateful for that unexpected gift.
Does Trauma Damage You?
I don’t like to view trauma in that way – as a damaged person. I am not damaged!
You are not damaged!
We were strong enough to keep fighting for what is right and for self preservation and love (self) in the face of unbelievable betrayal, cruelty and adversity. We are compassionate, moral people with the ability to bring light into the lives of others.
Trauma can create specific brain changes that lead to symptoms like PTSD, complex PTSD, health problems, depression, anxiety, etc. However, the process of healing can get the brain and body back on track in many ways.
Will there be some permanent changes – yes, probably. But, these changes are usually both positive and negative. And you can manage the negatives, particularly if you are practicing some kind of healing program (self created, self-help, and / or professionally guided with in-person treatments).
Trauma can open your eyes and allow you to see and understand the multilayered complexities of human behavior at a deeper level than most others. To know there are cruel people in the world who we should avoid and protect our loved ones from (family, pets) is extremely valuable information on its own. Because, imagine believing there is “good in everyone” or that with love and patience everyone can change. That is a dangerous set of beliefs to hold if you have a pathological narcissist in your life.
Traumatic experiences also make it crystal clear that we are not all neurologically the same. We are not all built with a properly functioning emotional system. There will be realizations about our society that will come after exposure to abuse, which will be carried with you throughout your life.
Trauma allows you to see what happens when a toxic person holds a position of trust in your life. You also had the chance to see first hand that our brain is extremely responsive to the people we interact with. Their words, their actions, their manipulation and mind games can harm you neurologically.
List of possible positive changes that arise from trauma:
- Heightened Instincts | Some may experience this as having the instant ability to detect pathological narcissism in others.
- Compassion | Some might experience this as increased compassion for the suffering of people and animals.
- Overwhelming desire to help other narcissistic abuse survivors.
- Heightened Morals | Some develop a clarity in what is right and wrong and strongly follow their new moral stance.
- Appreciation of your intact emotional abilities.
- Full realization and acceptance that not everyone has the ability to love or bond.
- Stronger Boundaries | Some will adopt an absolutely ‘no tolerance’ policy of the poor behavior of others.
- Recognition that your opinion of self should be valued over all others.
- Viewing life in a completely different manner, such that you realize you can pursue your dreams and hopes.
- Giving high regard to people who are gentle, kind, and compassionate – realizing just how special people like that are.
- Recognition of the importance of concepts like self-worth and self-care.
I wish you the best in your recovery. And just know that I am here if you would like my assistance – come see me in my narcissistic abuse course
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