I was listening to a talk by Dr. Gabor Maté and he was speaking about trauma. He said it comes from the Greek word for wound. And that trauma can be like an open wound that is painful when touched. Or it can be something covered over with a hard shell of scar tissue that has no feeling and is difficult to break through.
He also explained that in his opinion addictions are a coping mechanism to deal with that trauma. There are many forms of severe abuse that are traumatic, but trauma can also be the loss of a family member, a contentious divorce, not feeling loved or supported, and countless other circumstances.
He said addiction is a behaviour that gives someone a good feeling but ends up with a bad outcome afterwards. It could be drugs or alcohol, but it could also be eating or shopping or gambling or working or time online. So many of us have addictions. And until we address the wound we are trying to heal with those actions, we cannot change the behaviours.
He also explained that when we react with anger to something, it is most likely not a reaction to the situation at hand. We might get upset at our children who interrupt our workday or at a friend who let us down, but the reaction is the result of something from the past. An experience that upset us previously. And that anger comes out as a reaction to the current situation which stirred up that old feeling.
We should pause before we react and ask ourselves, “why am I feeling this way?” We might find a trail back to who we are. We must walk through the fire and suffer to heal so those hard questions have to be considered. We must discuss our story with ourselves. And we must remember that the trauma is inside us so we can control the healing of that wound.
Maté said, “Knowing oneself comes from attending with compassionate curiosity to what is happening within.” May we all have compassionate curiosity about our yesterdays that leads to the healing of our tomorrows.