What is emotional trauma?

Emotional Trauma

Published May 8, 2020

Emotional trauma is often the silent trauma that no one really talks about.

We generally think as a society that we have to “just get over it” when we have been treated poorly by others. The same way some may expect us to “just calm down” from anxiety (see anxiety therapy for more information about anxiety) or “just cheer up” from depression (see what to expect in depression therapy).

Have you ever have been told, “Stop blaming your parents or ex for everything”? Well, you can and you should if they caused you emotional (or physical) trauma (see trauma/ptsd therapy). With any form of trauma, it is actually healthier to blame the other person. They did it – not you. It is their fault.

Often, the effects of emotional trauma are longer-lasting, become ingrained beliefs about ourselves, evoke PTSD (or other related trauma/stressor disorders), and can overall affect the way we see ourselves and connect with others.

What are Emotionally Traumatic Events?

Perhaps before found this article, you didn’t even realize you were the survivor of emotional trauma. But how do you know if you have experienced an emotionally traumatic event?

Common emotional traumas

  • Verbal Abuse (yelling, put-downs, name-calling)
  • Working for a toxic boss
  • Being bullied
  • Alienation from family or loved ones
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Neglect from a parent
  • Not being validated, emotionally supported or encouraged as a child
  • Gaslighting
  • Being consistently lectured
  • Having you feelings disputed
  • Being in a relationship (romantic, family, friends) with someone with a personality disorder such as Narcissistic personality disorder, Sociopathic Personality or Border Line Personality Disorder
  • Being in a relationship (romantic, family, friends) with someone with an untreated substance use disorder
  • Engaging with people who frequently violate your trust 

How it Sticks With Us

The lasting effects of emotional trauma can foster negative beliefs about ourselves that are not actually based in fact. But, over time when we are in situations that cause emotional trauma, we “learn” these to be true. Emotional trauma that can lead us to question ourselves “maybe I did something wrong?” or even questioning our own sanity “am I going crazy?”. Even worse, we may start to believe that this is the way we deserve to be treated.

Negative Self Beliefs

Some more negative self-beliefs and the way we question connection with others that can result from emotional trauma are

  •  I am worthless
  • I am “too much” to deal with
  • Relationships are dangerous
  • I will not be listened to or acknowledged
  • Love will go away
  • I am a weak person
  • I am not loveable
  • I cannot be assertive without danger
  • People will not like me as I am
  • I don’t deserve to be happy
  • I will inevitably be rejected
  • People will betray me
  • I don’t deserve to be happy
  • I am not enough
  • I will never be happy
  • I am bad

Healing From Emotional Trauma

Working with a therapist that specializes in trauma is the first step to healing from the effects of emotional trauma. Remember, the negative beliefs that you feel about yourself or connection with others are not actually true. A therapist trained in trauma-informed care can help you uncover the real truth – and the real you.

Laura Richer
Seattle Couples Therapist
Anchor Light Therapy Collective
(206) 765-8265
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