Traumatic events can happen to all of us

  • Jul 26, 2021
Traumatic events can happen to all of us

We live with the illusory belief that misfortunes only happen to others and when they happen to us the disturbing question arises: why to me? To answer it, you have to take into account a truth unquestionable: our world is a dynamic system, is in continuous movement due to the action of the different forces of nature, which necessarily causes changes that are largely due to chance (although there are numerous regularities in it), nothing remains the same indefinitely.

In addition to changes in the physical environment, with the passage of time there are also changes in people (in their physical and psychological state) and in the relationships that they maintain with the physical environment and with other members of their group, then to think that things will remain the same throughout life is absurd. This law of continuous motion facilitates the occurrence of a multitude of events in the human-environment system, so the probability that any of them may affect us negatively is certain, constant and, to a large extent, unpredictable and inevitable. In this Psychology-Online article, we will learn to accept that

traumatic events can happen to all of us.

You may also like: What is a psychological trauma


  1. Accept the possibility that we may have a traumatic experience
  2. Accept the suffering generated.
  3. Accept our biological nature.
  4. Keys to overcome a traumatic situation

Accept the possibility that we may have a traumatic experience.

It is therefore a matter of probability: the more elements are part of our living environment (material and personal) and the more relationships we have with them, more events occur and, therefore, more likely to affect us negatively. This forces us to accept that a change in The state of things It is possible at any time and place in the environment in which we are and, therefore, a traumatic event that affects us is likely to derive from it. In this regard, we should accept uncertainty as part of everyday life

It is possible that the model of the world that we have built (how things are and how things work) has some deficiencies or errors that may be the origin of the traumatic event and that we should assume and accept, thus overcoming the natural tendency to look for excuses to justify them (rationalization, blaming, etc.). Among the most common deficiencies are:

  • The mental representations that we had built on ourselves and on the other elements of our environment (especially with the people) regarding their particular characteristics, their position, their function and the ways of relating, contained errors or anomalies that masked the true reality.
  • Our predictions and illusions for the future they were unfounded, either had no real basis, or determining factors had not been taken into account when making them.

The existence of deficiencies or errors in any of these factors also forces us to accept that it is necessary to make modifications or abandon our current model and replace it with a new one. Any personal model based on mental representations of our world is not immovable, it can be modified, and neural plasticity is the biological mechanism that makes it possible..

Nevertheless, create a new model of the world valid is costly, requires time and effort, because you have to overcome the resistance of the mind to change a model already consolidated by being forced by the new situation (on this point, what Chinn and Brewer pointed out in its taxonomy of a person's possible responses to anomalous data). Furthermore, from the physiological point of view, all the biological processes required to form and consolidate the neural networks that represent a new model are complex and take time to fit in (it's akin to the gym hours it takes to grow the muscles of the body). Body).

Traumatic events can happen to all of us - Accept the possibility that we may have a traumatic experience

Accept the suffering generated.

Psychological pain It is a response of our emotional system to an event that affects us and which we classify as harmful (dangerous, harmful, threatening). Its purpose is to encourage the person to pay attention to the disturbing situation presented and act by taking the necessary measures to deal with it effectively.

Since pain is an imperative of nature that serves an alert function to maintain survival, it is not in our hands to eliminate it (it is not under the control of the will, is due to the autonomic nervous system), so we have no choice but to accept it and try to control it so that it does not affect our everyday life. Accepting the necessity and inevitability of pain, despite the deep and bitter feeling of not deserving it, is the first step to begin to overcome it.

In the traumatic events has been generated a state of affairs unforeseen, such as the loss of what we had (health, work, family) and / or the impossibility of having what we want (being parents, social recognition, giving and receiving affection and affection) and, in addition, it is accompanied by a great negative emotional charge (more pronounced when crucial links for psychological well-being are broken: family, social, labor). In this situation, our mind is in a state of confusion, of mental agitation, unable to reason sensibly to give an adequate response to the situation.

We try to resort to intelligent reasoning to understand the situation and be able to accept it, but with them we only get acceptancecognitive or intellectual (We tell ourselves: I understand what happens and I know that I have to accept it), but this is not enough to make the pain disappear, because even if we accept it intellectually, being the emotional nervous system autonomously, we cannot avoid the distress and the unpleasant physiological sensations that it generates (anxiety, insomnia, stomach discomfort, lack of attention and concentration, etc.). What's more, to accept it is necessary analyze and understand all the circumstances of the event and this involves paying attention to it and reliving it, thereby intensifying the emotional disturbance, thus making it difficult to understand and accept it.

Accept our biological nature.

The traumatic event activates the emotional system causing them to emerge negative emotions, but this activation depends both on the emotional activation potential inherent to the event and on the emotional sensitivity of the person (there are people who find a grain of sand like a mountain, or an inappropriate but innocent comment becomes an insult demolition Man). The biological processes involved in both factors take place in various brain structures and various components are involved (mainly neurotransmitters, receptors and hormones). All of them depend to a large extent on the genetic structure of the person, and we cannot change it, so it can be said that the composition, structure and functioning of the brain system are elements that influence the formation of a traumatic event, and being specific for each person, they are part of our biological identity which we are also forced to accept.

In people whose biological nature gives them a greater emotional sensitivity the negative impact of the event will be greater and, therefore, they will be more vulnerable and their acceptance process will require a greater exertion (it is proven that a lower amount of serotonin and dopamine makes a person more prone to anxiety and fear excessive).

Traumatic events can happen to all of us - Accept our biological nature.

Keys to overcome a traumatic situation.

As we have seen, in the traumatic event various factors intervene: biological, psychological and environmental conditions that determine its rating as such. From the psychological perspective, the Acceptance goal is to assume a situation that violates the model of the world established in the mind (It implies overcoming the contradiction between the consolidated internal model and the external reality). But this involves a great effort, the sum of all the obstacles that can occur in the partial acceptances indicated shows the difficulty of the process, hence the therapeutic treatment should focus on using appropriate techniques for each of the acceptances. In addition, the acceptance process is not the same in all people, there are some who achieve it with more efficiency and speed, such as those with a great sense of coherence (according to Antonovsky, 1979) or the resilient.

Based on the reasoning presented, it is easy to come to the conclusion that we must accept traumatic events because there is no other option, it is a necessary requirement to adapt adequately to vital changes. Since we cannot change the facts, the "sensible" thing to do is to accept everything that we cannot change or transform. Accepting the obvious, what does not admit evidence to the contrary, discussion or controversy, is the natural way to achieve psychological stability and adaptation to the new situation. The longer you take in this process, the more time wasted to spend on pleasant experiences. Therefore, what interests us is to establish the appropriate strategy so that the acceptance process, which is slow and complicated in itself, occurs more quickly, effectively and with less effort.

But it also implies learning to live daily life accompanied by the psychological pain caused by the trauma, which operates as a burden that is carried on the back and never disappears (at any moment the mental representation of it can emerge to consciousness), but you have to move on, walk the path of life that is within our reach and not stand still with the sole mission of resigning ourselves to changes produced.

By virtue of the above, overcoming a traumatic event requires, in addition to great mental strength, a proactive attitude based on three basic premises: the acceptance of the past, the adaptation to the present and the illusion for the future.

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to Traumatic events can happen to all of us, we recommend that you enter our category of Cognitive psychology.

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