Issue #1 - The Link Between Trauma & Self-Sovereignty
Welcome to the first issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. The newsletter exploring what it means to be free in an increasingly not-so-free world.
Whether you're looking to locate your authentic self or investigate sovereignty, you're in the right place! Each week, with just a few minutes of reading, I aim to expand your awareness through a quote and a piece of content that made me go hmm...
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First Post Welcome!!!
Welcome to the first Qi of Self-Sovereignty post. Why the name, you ask?
Qi (pronounced "Chee") is the traditional Chinese medicine word for the vital energy that gives life to the human body. It is qi that keeps our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health in balance.
However, how can we find balance and locate our authentic selves without the ability to control one's body, mind and the course of one's own life?
Therefore, within each post, I will dive into a particular topic, sharing any personal insights, all with the goal of deepening one's understanding, self-sovereignty and authenticity.
I hope you find value in this newsletter.
“We experience life through our bodies. If we are not able to articulate our life experience, our bodies speak what our minds and mouths cannot.” - Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No.
Sometimes you stumble upon a quote that makes you rethink your beliefs. This is one of those quotes. Prior to falling down the Gabor rabbit hole, I had never connected the dots between illness/disease and authenticity. With my limited understanding, I assumed our ailments were purely a product of our environment, genetics or diet. Boy, was I misinformed.
A perfect example debunking this:
One of my best friends grew up in a household where her mother did not support her emotional and attachment needs. In turn, she never quite developed the ability to express herself fully. Internally this created a sense of helplessness and loneliness. During this same period, she developed hypochondria and severe anxiety.
Fast-forward twenty years. In a short period, she was sexually harassed, her partner was overcome with financial stress, and then her best friend left the country. While trying to keep her head above water, she started to have intense anxiety and physiological reactions.
Only through looking inwards did she realize that the issues that coincided with these events were not a coincidence but rather unconscious methods of emotional expression. In each situation, her psychobiological symptoms resulted from her emotional and attentive needs not being met.
The hypochondria was subconsciously the only way she knew how to garner her mother's attention, and as an adult, when her partner and best friend were emotionally unavailable, the intense anxiety and physiological reactions was her mind resorting back to its childhood cognitive programming.
This quote brought back memories of a book I read a few years back. So I went back over my notes, and as expected, there were many links.
Insightful content which made me go, hmm...
Peter Levine's "Waking the Tiger" is an eye-opening book exploring the depths of processing trauma. I highly recommend checking it out!
As Peter puts it:
"Held within the symptoms of trauma are the very energies, potentials, and resources necessary for their constructive transformation. The creative healing process can be blocked in a number of ways—by using drugs to suppress symptoms, by overemphasizing adjustment or control, or by denial or invalidation of feelings and sensations."
This book really highlights that feelings and emotions are simply energy. When we sit with our bodily sensations, feeling our emotions fully, the energy causing this response can pass through us.
Trauma, illness and disease arise when we suppress these emotions. Pretending they don't exist. This aligns with Gabor's point above, "our bodies speak what our minds and mouths cannot."
What is often misunderstood about trauma is that it is subjective. Many children aren't traumatized because they were physically hurt, but instead, they were alone with their hurt, or in other words, their internal pain. They had no one to speak to, and their emotional needs were not being met.
We should all ask ourselves, as a child, who did we speak to? If our parents weren't in the picture or were emotionally unavailable, we would have no one to talk to about our vulnerabilities and feelings. In turn, we may have unintentionally learnt to disconnect from these emotions to detach from internal discomfort. This breeds that same sense of helplessness that my friend highlighted above, as we never learn how to process our emotions effectively.
Moreover, due to life's circumstances, if we relied on stressed, distracted and unavailable parents that failed to meet our emotional needs when we felt unsafe or upset. Due to increased theta brain activity during our developmental years, we may impart these experiences into our implicit beliefs. This then gets baked into our developing brain, instilling us with helplessness, anxiety, panic and despair.
However, if we could express ourselves and our parents made us feel loved and picked us up as children when we felt unsafe, we would have learnt that the world is safe and that we don't have to be anxious about it. As our brain develops, we should develop the ability to self-regulate, growing into a calm, emotionally in tune and mature adult.
Anxiety, depression, stress etc., are not a disease. They're trauma symptoms in individuals who have forgotten how to express their authentic selves.
What has this got to do with self-sovereignty, you ask? Self-sovereignty is "the ability to control one's body, mind and the course of one's own life." We often forget that we don't experience reality as it is, but instead, we interpret life through our own personal experiences, beliefs and fears.
When we fail to process or recognize unresolved trauma, not only can it lead to consequences down the line, but it impacts our response to the present. When triggered, we will be unable to effectively and rationally respond to the given situation. Instead, we unknowingly react from our past.
Next time you're in a triggering situation. Ask yourself two questions:
- Is my response in line with the stimuli I am being presented with? If you recognize you were over/under-reacting and your answer is no, you are most likely responding from our past. If so, ask yourself...
- What about this situation am I taking to mean about me?
The goal of these questions is to slow down our thought processing so we can catch and control how we respond to stimuli as opposed to autonomously reacting from the past. In doing so, we will be one step closer to self-sovereignty.
Thanks for taking the time to read the first issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. I hope you found it insightful.
I always welcome feedback and thoughts. So, do not hesitate to respond to the newsletter email, comment on the article or reach out via Twitter.
The future is bright!