These 12 signs that we are recovering from our traumatic experiences are as follows:
1) More able to live in the present:
We finally come to the full realisation that the past is truly over and that the trauma we experienced need no longer be central to our identity nor define us as a person
2) Greater inclination to contemplate the future:
This is due to the fact we are no longer trapped in our past nor obsessed with ceaselessly analysing it
3) Become less avoidant:
Before, we may have felt it necessary to avoid situations and people which reminded us of our traumatic experiences. However, we no longer feel compelled to do this as we find such reminders less difficult for us to cope with
4) Able to participate more fully in life:
Our energy is no longer exhausted by merely just about managing to cope and survive ; we can begin to start actively pursuing positive activities
5) Our trauma-related thoughts, feelings and memories become easier to deal with :
We still experience such thoughts, feelings and memories but no longer with the intensity which we previously found so overwhelming
6) Become less reliant on dysfunctional coping mechanisms :
For example,we may find we have more control over drinking too much alcohol, drug use, over-eating etc
Above: Posttraumatic growth. See number 12 below.
7) More able to control our emotions :
For example, anger and fear (emotional volatility and dysregulation is often one of the hallmark symptoms resulting from the experience of childhood trauma).
8) Reduction in negative thoughts about ourselves:
Another extremely common symptom of having experienced significant childhood trauma is the development of the false belief that we are an intrinsically bad person (click here to read my article about this phenomenon).
Part of our recovery involves rediscovering our positive qualities which may have been lying dormant or may have been masked by feelings of anger, self-absorption, resentment and cynicism.
9) Reduction in feelings of helplessness :
It is also extremely common for survivors of childhood trauma to develop a condition known as learned helplessness (click here to read my article about this).
However, when we start to recover, this feeling of helplessness begins to disperse and we subsequently become more aware that we are in a position to choose to do things to help ourselves and to exert some control over our future. In short, we start to feel more empowered.
10) Feeling that we are starting to get back some self respect :
(Many who experience childhood trauma lose their self-respect – this may involve self-sabotaging behaviour, continuously putting oneself at risk, believing oneself to be unworthy of love or happiness, complete lack of interest in appearance etc).
11) A cessation in the forming of unhealthy relationships:
If we have suffered severe childhood trauma, many of us develop what is known as a repitition compulsion (click here to read my article on this) which involves us (unconsciously) seeking out relationships with others who are likely to treat us very badly. We may, too, put up with bad relationships as we have developed (again, quite possibly unconsciously), a kind of ‘ I don’t deserve any better’ mentality.
However, with the return of our self-respect, we can decide to no longer tolerate such destructive relationships.
12) No longer feel like a victim:
Instead, we can start to concentrate upon posttraumatic growth. This may entail, for example, using our former deep suffering to initiate positive change eg becoming a stronger and more resilient person, gaining a better perspective on life, developing a better ability to empathise with the suffering of others, and to help them.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).