We can identify 4 levels of trauma:
1. “Big T trauma” – sexual abuse, war zones, car crash, hurricane etc
2. “Little t 1 trauma” – developmental or relational trauma with huge impact
3. “Little t 2 trauma” – developmental or relational trauma with smaller but significant impact
4. “Little t 3 trauma” – developmental or relational trauma which results in “hurt”
For the “Little t” at all levels, it is a case of the four Ss – safe, seen, secure and soothed – not being experienced enough in childhood. For some this results in profoundly believable negative self-beliefs that end up ruling the person’s adult life, for others it is a feeling that something just doesn’t feel right or good. These negative beliefs cause a person to live in fear – even if they don’t realise they are in fear.
To varying degrees, these childhood wounds need to be anaesthatised, and this is where we have the changing levels of self-soothing, from the chronic heroin/meth/crack/alcohol/sex/gambling etc. user, right through to the highly functioning house Mum or city worker on net a porter or adrenaline rushes respectively.
Anyone who reaches externally for something to make them feel better in that moment, is soothing a past pain or hurt. The sadness is that as a society we have come to see these “addictions” and/or “self-soothings” as acceptable and even the norm. Sometimes one is actually seen as “abnormal” or “weird” for not wanting to indulge in external pursuits of anaesthetising!
The reality is that we are a nation of hurt and wounded beings, unable to connect with our true selves, reaching for external things to soothe that internal pain – and aspiring to a social norm that is not only inauthentic but also self-perpetuating, encouraging a life of disconnection.
What to do about this:
In order to live a life of connection and fulfillness, we need first to understand that we are hurt. Then we need to face our pain and work through it.