As a panicking humanity runs from the fires it set off, it risks seeking refuge in the coping mechanisms and dictators who will validate its trauma and continue the cycle.
Trauma is a part of life. It is what shapes us. What makes us. It teaches us valuable lessons. It even makes us a better person. We all vaguely remember the first time we fell on the ground and cried. We remember how harsh the gravel and dirt felt against our sensitive skin. Or the first time we felt embarassed and wanted to disappear. When we got bullied and felt powerless. When we were stood up on a date and felt worthless, or when we got fired from work right before the weekend. With each traumatic experience, we became a new person.
Trauma is the most effective way in which humans and other animals learn. But it also has powerfully transformative and regenerative effects on the psyche and spirit. It is often said that people who have lost something or someone are nicer people overall. They tend to be less arrogant, more empathetic, more open, more wise. But most of all, they seem to be mysteriously connected with everything. They radiate some kind of quiet infinite wisdom. When you look into their eyes, you can see Earth.
Trauma’s transformative powers only become available to us under one condition: if we allow it to shape us, to run like electricity through our body, like a ravaging forest fire that tears through our soul and demolishes our pride. If we stop fearing trauma and instead accept it, mysterious and powerful psychological mechanisms are activated that are similar to a near-death experience: these mechanisms give us access to new insight, to a level of consciousness that transcends time and space. We become connected to the world, to every single plant or animal that has ever felt pain, to every insect or even bacterium that has ever been squashed. By feeling our trauma we connect to an ancient cycle of trauma and regeneration that defines all forms of existence on Earth. In this way our traumatic experience becomes more than just learning “what to avoid next time”. It becomes a spiritual transformation to a new type of existence: one that is open, aware, introspective, connected, compassionate. We become Time and Space.
All religions have tried to tap into the power of trauma: from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, to the wisdom of the Karma and reincarnation. But trauma releases its tremendous healing power only if the person traumatised allows their experience to humble them, to open their eyes and realise their fragility, their fallibility, their imperfection yet determination to live. Realise that they are an insignificant piece of the universe, an imperfect human, and that they need to forgive and be forgiven for their imperfection. Trauma is a celebration of our mortality, our humanity and humility. It is a celebration of our Spirit.
Our Trauma Denial means that we have created a civilisation that traumatises us. Every Single Day
Human civilisation and “progress” have strived to cover up trauma rather than process it. Our fear of death, the ultimate form of trauma, has made us go into denial. It has made us tremendously insecure, and desperate to find ingenious ways to tell ourselves that we are immortal. Whether it is building empires, hoarding natural resources, shopping, or smoking, we have been trying to distract ourselves from death. Greed, the pursuit of success at all costs, the breakneck speed of technological evolution and quest for growth and progress have been our psychological coping mechanisms in avoiding dealing with our mortality, much like overeating or drugs help us cope with psychological issues we do not want to open up. We are avoiding processing our trauma at any cost, even if that involves inflicting more trauma on ourselves and others on the planet.
From Traumatised to Traumatisers
In fact, the irony in all of these coping mechanisms is that they include trauma. We are using trauma to keep ourselves distracted from facing our core, original trauma: facing the truth that trauma and death are part of life, they are natural, and most of all part of being a biological organism. We are ashamed of being biological. Rather than celebrating Life, we celebrate the defeat of Death. It is not the same.
But the more we resist and deny our core trauma, the more trauma we need to inflict around us. It is a cycle of destruction. It is a desperate attempt to re-live our core trauma, because deep down we know that only through trauma can we feel truly human, truly alive, truly ourselves.
Addicted to Trauma
As part of our trauma denial, we have deprived ourselves of the right to cry, to feel pain, to grieve, to go into retreat. It is very sad that we are trying to feel pain instead by destroying the world. How much more pain do we need to feel, or to inflict, so that we can come full circle, and wake up, accepting that we are a beautiful life form as we are, a life form that does not need to create huge CO2-emitting empires, one that does not need to bring other species to extinction in order to feel secure?
Only if we process our trauma, accept our vulnerability, our mortality, will we come out the other end neutralised, balanced, in peace with past and future, enlightened, awakened, content, and in control of our destiny. We are responsible not only for us but for millions of species that live on this planet. Our unprocessed trauma and the addictions we have created to cover it up are blinding us from seeing this. And we have formed civilisations and societies where we are terrified of sitting still in the fear that we might become aware of our mortality and fragility. We look down on sitting still as a form of laziness, and our obsession with achieving and destroying has brought about a sleeplessness epidemic, causing our anxiety and depression to skyrocket even further. Yet at the same time we take mindfulness meditation classes so that we can remember what it used to feel like to just sit, to need nothing else but our breath, our existence. No shopping, no wealth, no employee of the year awards at work, just our breath. Just feeling alive, just being.
We are a species that thinks it is not from Earth.
Our refusal to accept our mortality has meant that we constructed civilisations that looked down with contempt on the natural processes of life and death that occur in nature. Our civilisations look to “shield” us from anything that dies, anything that is “wild”, anything that reminds us of the fact that we in fact came from the “wild”, that we are an animal that came out of the jungles and savannahs, and that we will return to the soil one day. It is no wonder then that our polluted cities and civilisations are toxic to biological life. To our life.
The industrial revolution, the look and feel of our modern cities, our cars, our houses, have all served to try and convince us that we are not of this Earth. We are more, and we are immortal. And we have the right to impose death on the animals and plants of this planet, because they are not like us. Our paranoia about our own mortality has driven us to stress-eat our way through nature’s free buffet of resources, and to commit crimes against nature so that we can make our insecure ego feel even bigger.
Rather than consciously processing our trauma we are subconsciously trying to re-live it, by inflicting it all around us
Why isn’t Earth fighting us back?
Earth doesn’t know revenge. Because Earth is not addicted to trauma like humans. It doesn’t need to keep destroying. Earth only destroys as much as it creates, keeping itself in balance. Water forms clouds and then rains down to form rivers and oceans. Volcanos spew lava while tectonic plates sink into the mantle to create more lava.
Besides, Earth doesn’t need to fight back. It doesn’t want part in a destructive co-dependent relationship with humans. It has millions of other healthy relationships with other species. Humans are the one species that is on a path of self-annihilation.
Trapped in a Toxic Reward System
Much like Class A drugs like opium and heroine attack and take over the Reward Centres of our brain, we have designed our civilisations to offer us little “rewards” each day for the level of trauma that we endure. These rewards ensure that we become even more addicted to the system. Our corporate world traumatises us with meaningless soul-sucking “bulshit jobs” that only “push paper” and CO2 around the globe, and end up pushing us towards anxiety and sleeplessness, for the reward of a salary. Our cities traumatise us with pollution, noise, traffic and loneliness, offering us rewards in the form of shopping, food and electricity. The more traumatised we are, the more rewards we need to keep up the false impression that we are sane and healthy.
what else can I smoke to distract myself?
who else can I kill to make the fear of death go away?
what more can I buy so that I can feel loved?
can someone punch me harder so that I can feel myself?
As our civilisation becomes more toxic, it layers trauma upon trauma simply so that it can continue to perpetuate itself. The only way out of this build up is to stop and process what has been happening to humanity for the last few hundred years. We need new history books.
to be continued…