Tips for Not Allowing Trauma to Define You

When someone experiences trauma, it changes them. They may see the world differently, or they may even see themselves differently. It is normal for someone to feel the effects of trauma, but letting their trauma define them takes away their power. Trauma is and will always be a part of the person who endures it, but it doesn’t negate the rest of who they are and what they do. Although often painful, scary, and challenging, trauma does not need to burden the rest of a person’s life.

For children, this is especially true. When someone endures trauma during such a vulnerable stage in their life, their reactions to such an experience often significantly impact their future. More than 60% of children in the United States reported experiencing at least one traumatic event by age 16. With such high rates, it is vital for those children to understand their trauma and how not to let it define them.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is intense stress that impacts a person’s ability to cope. Often, trauma results from a specific event or repeated experiences of physical or emotional harm, abuse, or neglect. There is no tried-and-true scientific definition of what sort of event does or does not lead to trauma, as traumatic experiences are unique and personal to how each person understands and reacts to their experience.

Trauma can be a significant defining factor in someone’s life. They often ruminate on the event or memory and may develop negative feelings about themselves in the process. Avoiding the subject or denying the trauma can lead to more intense negative effects. However, addressing trauma can lead to growth, healing, and strength. Rather than losing hope, gaining fear, and anticipating the worst, with proper treatment like trauma-informed care, survivors can recover.

How Trauma Can Affect Children

Trauma can significantly alter one’s life immediately and for years to come. For instance, childhood trauma has been linked to substance use disorders, mood disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTDS). Approximately 70% of adolescents in treatment for substance abuse have experienced trauma.

Children can begin feeling and displaying the adverse effects of trauma at a young age. Children under 10 years old may become anxious, feel guilty or shameful, have trouble focusing, or have night terrors. As children grow into their preteen and teen years, the effects of trauma can manifest as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm, substance abuse, dangerous actions, and risky sexual behavior.

These issues generally do not resolve themselves without intervention, meaning trauma can affect children well into adulthood. Survivors of childhood trauma may experience learning impairments, difficulty maintaining a job, addiction, legal troubles, and even long-term health problems.

How to Cope With Trauma

Although the experience of trauma cannot be erased, its impact can be altered, adapted, and lessened. Someone who has survived trauma does not need to suffer from the effects forever.

Trauma is something that happened to someone; it is a major life event they lived through. However, it isn’t their whole identity. It can be difficult to make that distinction when trauma seems to be the defining moment in someone’s life. Fortunately, trauma-focused treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy, holistic healing methods, and healthy coping mechanisms can help trauma survivors manage stress, anxiety, and pain. Rather than avoiding the trauma, these methods are linked to a trauma-informed system that understands trauma reactions at a deep level to address a survivor’s needs. Seeking help from professionals and working with them to develop the skills required to recover from trauma impacts one’s success and wellness.

Tips for coping with trauma include:

  • Develop a trusted support system of friends, family, and professionals
  • Maintain a treatment plan to monitor progress
  • Build and sustain self-esteem
  • Take part in joyful and productive activities
  • Work on developing interpersonal relationships
  • Practice meditation and mindfulness
  • Spend time with animals and nature
  • Engage with a trauma support group
  • Develop a sense of purpose
  • Analyze and align priorities

When one works on the above methods of removing the negative impacts of trauma, they will see and feel a change in themselves. However, as one does, they should remember recovery takes time and patience. The memories might not be gone entirely, but people can learn to manage the symptoms of trauma and build their confidence back up. They can learn how to cope with triggers and painful emotions.

These tips for healing from trauma help survivors build resilience and strength. Taking trauma and turning it into something positive allows for more self-awareness and growth. Experiencing trauma means it is a part of someone, but it doesn’t have to define them.

When someone experiences trauma, especially at a young age, it can be difficult to shake. That moment or experience can feel like it has taken over. From anxiety to attachment disorders and beyond, the effects of trauma can be long-lasting and intense. When a child survives trauma of any sort, they are at risk for several psychological, behavioral, and even physical problems. Their trauma can define them without realizing it, but it doesn’t have to. With proper treatment, therapy, and attention, children and teens can develop the skills they need to recover from trauma. At Havenwood Academy, we work with young women to challenge their past trauma. We are experts in providing personalized care based on their needs while offering unmatched support, family therapy, education, and financial resources. Call us at (435) 586-2500 today. We’re here to help you and your teen daughter. 


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