Written by Joann Thach
We all come from different experiences, backgrounds, perspectives and values. Ingrained in this journey we call “life” is trauma, or as I define it, processed or unprocessed hurts that happen in our journey and are out of our control. These pains influence our conscious and subconscious behaviors and inform us on how to avoid this pain in the future. We don’t like to be vulnerable. Unfortunately, avoiding pain without reflection or thought usually results in unconscious living. Some call this spiritual bypassing; others use substances to dull the pain of living. Unless we are able to work through the trauma and understand ourselves better, we will continually be reactive to triggers that show up in our day to day.
The problem is that many people have not taken the time to get to know themselves, what they want or their limitations. In the famous words of Esther Perele, “How did we get here?” To understand our journey, we have to look at the environment in which we have been nurtured as a child.
I am a by-product of two humans who each suffered from a form of addiction. They parted ways when I was a year old, resulting in a lonely upbringing where I felt like I had to support myself. Looking back, this aspect plays a large part in my adult behaviors, and it is extremely difficult for me to ask for help. I used to see it as a form of failure, and I never questioned “why?”
A series of events led me to seek out a therapist sporadically in college, and more seriously in my mid-20s. I uncovered a lot of ingrained assumptions I had about the world, what success meant, why I was reactive to certain phrases or situations, and my internal narrative. Uncovering your blind spots is definitely a two-person job. Finding a compatible therapist with the appropriate therapeutic training also takes time; we all have different goals that we are working towards in seeking out help. After continuous therapy for about 4 years now, I have become intentional about how I live, how I show up, and where my limitations are.
Trauma can be something that unknowingly controls us. However, trauma can also be something that transforms us. Once we accept that premise, the journey to unlocking our human potential begins. Imagine how harmonious our lives can be if we could each collectively unpack our pains, move and communicate mindfully in the world around us. We would have the clarity to recognize the joy and opportunities in front of us, knowing who or what is worthwhile of our time and what is not. Self-clarity is the best form of knowledge when developing your potential. Let’s begin today.
Here is an exercise you can do on your own that I adapted from Professor Sasha Strauss, founder of Innovation Protocol:
I am ______________ (identities that are important to you)
Who is known for _____________ (special qualities, values, or style that people know you for)
And helps people __________________. (the higher level purpose of your being, your “north star”)
Example: Joann is a compassionate leader who is enthusiastic about unlocking people’s potentials and helps people thrive in ineffective systems.
Please note: If you are experiencing domestic violence, intimate partner violence, gender based violence, please see our resources.