Trauma Creates Behaviors Learned Early in Life Keeping Society Off Balance from Seeing Their Worth
Updated: Jan 17
Trauma is a situation, experience or event which causes stress. Trauma impacts us at birth as we are born clear with two parents to get life for balance of safety and security. When a person is born into the world they are in complete balance, yet the minute we are exposed to air we transition into breathing on our own creating independence no longer being connected to our mother for oxygen which is stressful. This starts the external journey of life; hopefully having two parents to help balance us as we progress through our childhood. However, we also take on the challenges that each parent has experienced, and the behaviors learned from the traumas of those generations before us. We learn the positive and negative behaviors we are exposed to in our family environments. These experiences we learn in other environments too which we take through life. People are not taught that we experience trauma in childhood, we learn a level of comfort in our environments that are our "normal". This can be calm, or it can be chaos. The chaotic behaviors we take on to learn from the challenges of our parents and previous generations follow us through life. It is interesting many people I speak with not educated about trauma when the subject comes up in conversation are not aware it is experienced in many ways and explain their "perfect" upbringing not realizing trauma is tied to problems experienced as adults. America is in denial of trauma because we are lacking awareness in education of the many aspects of it. We do not understand the extremes we see in black and white thinking holds us back from becoming healthier and keeps us stuck in many ways which is a result of trauma. Life is not perfect, people are not perfect, and society can pretend that we all do not experience challenges or trauma.
This is why mainstream society is not aware of the fact we all are exposed to trauma in some way from our learned behaviors, and it impacts us in every environment we live in and adapt to as we go through life. It reflects on us through the people we are exposed to or come in contact with, and we then absorb some of their behaviors. Each person we come in contact with impacts the others from those behaviors learned early in life, and trauma can create conflict. It is important to understand that the further we are from balance in our relationships, the more trauma we experience because it causes stress and keeps us off balance which effects how we view ourselves and our self-worth. A well-balanced childhood creates strong self-worth and teaches us as we get older to be independent, grow and get ahead. We are not born to hate or be kind, however it can be learned as a consequence of trauma and stuck behavior patterns in families and environments. When we question our view of ourselves, we learn it early as a consequence of unbalanced environments and it creates a need to get our value or self-worth from the opinion of others which is external not internal validation. A person off balance either wants to be the controller or ends up being controlled and this is what is called the pedestal effect in relationships that are off balance, and we see it in every environment. This is all an effect of early trauma, society is built on being off balance why we experience disparities, judgement, bias, insecurity, etc.
Learning about trauma, and trauma informed practices early in life is important because this is when we can make a real impact on the behaviors that evolve with each person in their lifetime and bring more children into balance to grow into independent secure adults. This can look like many things which the Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs study highlights from the ten (basic) trauma indicators in it, which range from having a parent with mental health issues, living with abuse, poverty, separation from one or both parents, etc. however there are many more than those ten. No matter where we live, what job, title, income, race, sex or background we all experience some trauma and learn reactive behaviors from it. The long-term outcomes show up the same and the more trauma experienced early in life or learned from previous generations impact our health as getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental health issues or addictions that range from drugs or alcohol and power or control. Society masks the outcomes of trauma sometimes for high achievers as being positive, the reality is that these individuals are off balance. This is not any different from someone addicted to spending too much money, drugs, sex, gambling or any other vice. Children who are exposed to high levels of trauma can end up being stuck learning to be disempowered by parents unknowingly. It effects self-worth because it keeps them co-dependent in chaos of addictions, trouble with the law, health problems, failing to get ahead and/or thrive independently as adults. Parents unaware that trauma causes pressure on kids with controlling behaviors in early environments. Balance is support and off balance can include chaos, control, stealing the spotlight, creating insecurity to finish school, indecisiveness switching majors, schools and dropping out. A child who grows up too soon or adult child taking care of a parent, other family member or younger siblings, quitting things, etc. all which fails to have the ability to follow through on their own decision-making being controlled or stuck by parents or family not aware that this is a trauma. Trauma creates poor boundaries in any environment so a person it pressured to do more than they feel comfortable with, creating stress, pressure and impacts relationships with friends, family, spouses, their children and can cause issues such as divorce, arguments, all from stress of not being self-aware and secure to say No. This does not just occur in families, we see it in the work environment, school, social and other places which creates an imbalance. Children who are exposed to high levels of trauma can be the overachievers, getting high grades, big jobs, entry into good schools, the perfect child and always seeking perfection yet glorifying others for their achievements to maintain a controlled environment which can keep them below the radar of the chaos caused by trauma. Both are extremes and are off balance not secure which are addictions, yet society overlooks people who are considered successful. We see a high number of addictions, suicides, mental health issues, etc. in those with high powered jobs such as successful businesspeople, actors, professional athletes, high achievers can also succumb to. This is from being off balance, external needs for validation are insecurity from trauma which can look like a person who is never satisfied, in relationships, always busy, too many or an extraordinary number of "friends", "followers", "power", "things".
Today social media can create trauma and insecurity because many people are addicted to gaining external validation promoting their lives for others to see overachieving and/or underachieving. The need to share every private detail of a persons' life with strangers is the norm in today's society for all ages. This allows for a high level of control as parents take credit for their children's successes, a lack of privacy in access to all the friends and family; and promoting pictures with others sometimes without knowledge or permission. People may not understand this effects the persons' self-worth and security by seeking validation externally from large numbers of people or sharing details with people in their posts. Social media is a trauma that we do not see the full impact of, and it will probably be studied at high levels for decades to come. When traumatic events happen, one of the first places looked at is social media for clues about a person's thoughts. behaviors and who they are communicating with. This is a safety issue for parents because no matter how many levels of security the sites implement there is little safety or privacy for a parent to protect their children from on social media. People can have their voices taken, authenticity lost or be bullied by promoting information as they are judged by the people who view their profile which causes pressures that would not normally be there and is a level of control. The purpose of social media is to get likes, which creates a need for generalizing as people who like the information also are typically very similar. Social media can keep us off balance because we are looked at and seeking external validation at the same time spending time not living.
Trauma in families can keep children stuck, co-dependent in relationships which may be viewed as healthy but is not usually the case. These behaviors go with a person to college, sports, workplaces, boards, organizations, social clubs, neighborhoods, relationships, family and friend circles. Behaviors learned early in life creates comfort in friends who look or act like them because it is their "normal". Those in families tend to be closer to those who act like them and accept the norms learned in the family. In society and the workplace, we see that changing the dynamic or thinking differently than those in environments creates challenges such as black and white thinking like politics, religious beliefs or anything that is different. There is a strong need for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in companies and society. Some people look down on those that have different beliefs or who look different and can be hostile to those who do not want to vote or act the same way for example. The irony is that mainstream society is not aware that prejudice, bias and judging people because they think differently is a learned behavior from trauma which keeps them stuck and holds them back from evolving. It is not healthy, creates stress which causes anxiety and shows up in health issues such as skin disorders, cancer, heart disease, depression, etc. This information and outcomes are on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website under the ACEs study. Society accepts unkind behaviors as normal; the country was built on black and white thinking as we see in the justice system and politics with the us vs. them mindset. The news rarely plays stories about good things that happen every day, they keep us off balance with threats of bad weather, shootings, crime, fights, which is chaotic. People live in fear from watching the news which can be traumatic and keeps people stuck, like the grocery stores that sell out of food because of a snowstorm prediction. The same goes for social media, gossiping or secondhand information and we all know from the whisper down the lane game that the further you get from a source the less likely it is to be accurate. Also, why do we want to know so much about everyone else's life which prevents us from experiencing things ourselves? This is all an aspect of trauma, why because we learn to accept these thought or behaviors or not to from our family and their experiences.
In closing, trauma is something that everyone experiences early in life from the minute they start breathing on their own. The reality is that we are supposed to learn to be independent and secure from both of our parents. The ACEs study shows us that not everyone gets to experience both parents, and this is very unhealthy no matter what the reason. Life is not perfect; pretending is wearing a mask to cover insecurity and both extremes are off balance. America is off balance why we see the pedestal and black and white thinking. We cannot know what happens in a family and a mask of perfection does not hide that everyone has trauma. The ACEs study outcomes shows we experience this in any environment results do not change. Mainstream awareness and knowledge of trauma informed practices will benefit everyone. This should start in the homes, schools and doctors' offices as early in life as possible to improve self-worth. We cannot wait until someone has a crisis to react, we need to work to be kinder and understand we can be healthier by learning this. Trauma education and awareness keeps us balanced. We would not second guess ourselves as adults and need external validation from others on social media, getting people's opinions, questioning our decisions or hiring coaches because we would be much more secure and self-aware if mainstream awareness focused on education of trauma informed practices. This would help people to avoid unhealthy relationships and environments or to stay there because they would feel confident in themselves if we started to educate this early in life. The further we get away from the balance, the more difficult it becomes to learn that calm, peaceful, clear-headed thinking, feeling safe and secure within is positive self-worth. We are not going to heal trauma, but we can accept that it happens, start to grow and feel secure with ourselves first which is healthy and balanced.