Ultimately, trauma u2013 or more precisely, the negative effects that we experience from trauma u2013 arises largely from a lack of emotional connection. u00a0So whether weu2019re trying to prevent the harm thatu2019s come from trauma, or overcome the impact trauma has caused, the most effective strategy is the same: We create and nurture safe, attuned connection with others.
Healing trauma. The impact of trauma on the brain comes from a lack of connection. The neural pathways we need didnu2019t develop.u00a0 The good news is, we now understand that the brain is capable of building new pathways and reinforcing existing ones throughout our lives.
Simply by having meaningful conversations with people, we develop and strengthen these pathways. Listening to others share their stories, their successes and failures, and connecting with them is one of the most powerful ways we have to heal our brains. Authentically sharing our own story, and having someone sit with us, hear our story, and validate our experience helps our brains attune to others. Both of these rebuild or enhance the neural pathways that are deficient.
Building resilience. We canu2019t keep our children from being traumatized. No matter how protective we are, kids or teachers or friends say mean things. Some kids get bullied. Others, for whatever reason, have difficulty making friends. We might be distracted or upset and say something thoughtless. These experiences are part of nearly everyoneu2019s childhood. But these traumas do not have to impact our children, or put them at risk of addiction or other difficulties.
We can start, today, to build resilience in our children. First, we can listen without judgment. We can look at our own wounds or experiences, and what unconscious messages we might be sending, and do our best to change that.u00a0 We can encourage our kids to be open and honest by validating their feelings, never minimizing or ignoring them. We can practice unconditional positive regard. (Never easy, but incredibly beneficial to the child.)
And if thereu2019s a child in our lives that maybe doesnu2019t have someone who can listen and validate and be there for them, maybe we can be that person.