We begin life with enormous potential for growth and development. As we move through life, many of us will encounter experiences that impair our sense of safety, our confidence, and our innate capacity to explore, connect to others, and fully become our best, whole selves. Traumatic experiences may occur through ruptures and uncertainty in our initial relationships with caregivers/parents and/or throughout our lives in several other ways. Experiences that cause us to feel threatened, overwhelmed, helpless, taken off guard, abandoned, terrified, trapped, rejected, humiliated, and powerless may impact us in significant ways we may not even know. As humans we have an amazing capacity to adapt and therefore survive such experiences, however; such experiences may also manifest immediate and long-term symptoms that include emotional, mental, behavioral, relational, and physical impairments.

Our adaptive responses to these events may include a general sense of guardedness, difficulty connecting to others, difficulty initiating action, a tendency to appease others at our own expense, and an inability to protect ourselves in threatening situations. We may be unable to relax or sleep, overreact to sounds and situations which remind us of past events, and become avoidant of others and life, in general. Often, we establish and internalize false beliefs, such as, being at fault for what has happened to us, we are different, I am defective, or I am “bad.” We may feel hopeless and lose any sense that life can be different or that we can learn to love ourselves, be ourselves, and find safety, belonging, and joy again.