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Counseling Center of Cherry Creek

3 Ways To Recognize If Past Trauma Is Getting In The Way Of Your Relationship

July 7, 2014
Posted By: Counseling Center of Cherry Creek

Unresolved trauma can add an element of crazy-making to your relationships that can leave you stunned and confused. You might feel like you are ready to run out the door when these difficult patterns emerge in your relationship. 

That’s because trauma keeps the nervous system in a state of alert, always looking for danger, and ready to fight, run, or shut down, in an instant.   When your partner is feeling stressed and tries to communicate, your system senses danger, and you react as though you are under attack.  

What is trauma?

You experience trauma when you are afraid that you may be hurt or abandoned and your life is threatened in some way and we’re unable to stop a negative event from happening.

Trauma protects you from danger.

The brain and nervous system take note of the cues and circumstances involved in the event, and store it as a warning system to quickly run, fight, or shut down automatically without thinking about it first, when something similar appears to be happening. 

If a disagreement you’re having with your partner starts to have similar cues that happened when you experienced trauma, then your nervous system will respond as though you’re in that situation all over again. Instead of operating out of your brain’s frontal lobes where tender feelings, compassion, and connection happens, you’re suddenly operating out of your amygdala, in which fighting, running, or going blank are the only responses available. 

At that point, you’re not actually able to stay in calm connection with your partner and work things out, but are instead in a survival mode in which you instinctively see your partner as a threat. 

This is why it’s so important to take a break from arguments that aren’t getting anywhere, so you have time to reflect and come back into the frontal lobes – a place where calm understanding and connection can happen.

Some common signs of unresolved trauma are:

  • Getting too angry or upset over things that end up being not that important.
  • Inner talk that leaves you feeling ashamed and worthless.
  • A tendency to shut down your feelings and refuse to share your inner world. 
  • Finding it easy to kick your partner out of your heart, and making them all bad.

Ask yourself the following questions to see if past trauma may be negatively impacting your relationship:

  1. After arguments do you notice that you review the conversation and realize that you have reacted to something that you thought you heard your partner say but it was actually not what your partner said or meant? 
  2. Is it difficult for you to believe your partner when they say they didn’t say or mean something the way you took it? 
  3. Is it hard to trust your partner?  Do you assume your partner lies to you, or keeps things from you in order to avoid your reactions?

If you find yourself saying “yes” to any of these questions, call today 720.457.3342 for a free 20-minute phone consultation or schedule online. Today is the day to begin having the life and relationships that you want to have! And P.S....the purpose of these tough times in relationship...well, they may just be there for a reason.

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