- Trauma, even “little t” traumas like chronic stress, can impact your business and income. Becoming aware of how trauma affects you is an important first step.
- Trauma creates learned helplessness – the belief that you can’t change your circumstances. But you can shift limiting beliefs and break free.
- Don’t dig into all your past traumas. Focus on how trauma is impacting you now and release its hold.
- Triggers relate to past traumas or beliefs you currently hold. Increase awareness of triggers to make empowered choices.
- You have the capacity to rewrite, reprogram, and view trauma through a new lens. You are not a prisoner to your past.
Today we’re talking about trauma. I know you might be like, what the heck does trauma have to do with business? That does not even sound like those two things go together. Well, let me tell you that trauma can actually have a big impact on your business.
And it doesn’t have to be a big trauma like your house burning down or being in a natural disaster. It can be a small little trauma like chronic stress like we’ve all experienced over the last few years or being bullied in the schoolyard when you were a kid or your parents getting divorced when you were younger. This is what we like to call in psychology a big T trauma, which is like those really big life events that seem really overbearing and foreboding and you can say, like, my house blew up in an explosion or something versus Little-T trauma.
Little-T traumas being these small things that we often don’t think of as traumas. Things like being told to stop your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about. Well, that can turn into a trauma when we hear that enough and we learn to stop trusting ourselves and we learn to stop trusting our emotions, and we learn to stop trusting our own internal narrative and our own intuition and our own inner voice, those turn into traumas.
So something small and seemingly insignificant can actually become a trauma that impacts your ability to be successful and make more money. Now I’m a former psychologist. I have my PhD in psychology.
And when I was a psychologist, I actually specialized in trauma. I was the head of trauma at a 50,000 student university in the States, and I ran the trauma program for sexual assault, for physical trauma, for emotional trauma, for identity trauma, when folks are stepping into LGBT identities for all kinds of things, childhood traumas, all kinds of trauma. I was the head of training, new therapists and new doctoral students on trauma and in heading events for this university and the city I lived in on trauma.
And so I have a lot of expertise in trauma and the mind body connection and how these traumas essentially get implanted into our bodies. Now. As I transitioned into working with entrepreneurs and as a coach and helping people build businesses and helping people create conscious wealth, I realized that there is so much trauma that goes on in the background that influences our behavior.
And our choices and our actions in the here and now, in our businesses, in our ability to create wealth, in our ability to generate more abundance and prosperity and happiness and fulfillment and impact and legacy in our lives and freedom, that these traumas actually end up holding us back. But we don’t talk about it this way. We talk about trauma like it’s something that other people experience or that it’s this thing that veterans experience.
But if I haven’t experienced a big trauma, then I can’t really talk about it. Well I’m here to tell you that we’ve all experienced trauma and that we all have trauma in our background, myself included. And that only when we give ourselves permission.
And I know that sounds weird, but permission to say I’ve had some trauma. And when I look at it and when I can address it I can stop it from holding me back from what I want. In the present moment we then become empowered to shift things in ways that we never thought possible.
A lot of people are stuck in their ability to generate more income, to generate more success in their business, to go bigger, to reach a bigger audience, to have more freedom. All of this stuff because of these deep roots that are going on beneath the surface that relate to these old traumas. And so the first step in really understanding the impact of trauma on your business and your income is understanding that it exists.
Is understanding that it exists. And it’s not always big stuff that creates these traumas. Trauma is not only these singular experiences but as I said trauma is also the compounded effect of stress.
When we have experienced stress over a longer term period whether that’s a month, six months or a year that repeated stress becomes a trauma. Think about it this way. Here’s an example and it’s a silly example but sometimes those are the best ones.
If somebody were to tap you on the shoulder a few times it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. But if somebody were to tap you on the shoulder repeatedly for a month straight twenty four seven, that would actually probably become almost a traumatic experience because you would then be triggered anytime someone would tap you on the shoulder because it would give you that feeling of needing to flinch, because it would just be something that bothered you so much and had such deep roots and was so conditioned in your body as this thing that was annoying and persistent and wouldn’t stop and that you had no control over. And that’s somebody tapping you on the shoulder.
Now imagine something persistent that you didn’t have much control over like the state of the world the last few years. Or chronic underemployment or chronic underearning. Or feeling as though having beliefs that you don’t deserve to have more in your life.
Or having ancestral stories that tell you that money is hard to come by. Money is hard to come by. Money is hard to come by.
These things actually end up becoming almost traumatic experiences to us because they’re chronic, they’re repetitive and we feel as though we don’t have much control over them. Now the beautiful thing is we have a lot more control than we realize. But we have to activate, we have to acknowledge, we have to understand that we have this control in order to actualize it, in order to make something of it, in order to do something with it, right? So what I mean by that is something like a belief, like money is hard to come by.
That’s a belief, right? But if we don’t have the awareness that we can shift that belief and that belief just keeps going on in the back of our head, and the people around us are saying that over and over again. And we see it in our neighborhood, and we believe it, and we don’t think that we have the power to shift it. What happens is we actually can’t shift it.
We have to have the belief that we can shift it in order to shift it. So there is this guy, Martin Seligman. He’s a psychologist, famous psychologist.
He’s actually one of the inventors of positive psychology, if you’ve ever heard of that. He did these experiments in the they sound kind of sad, but none of the animals got hurt where he put I believe it was a dog in a cage where the floor of the cage was electrified. And that dog eventually learned that it couldn’t escape the electrified shock at its feet.
The electrified shock was uncomfortable, but it didn’t permanently harm the dog. Just like being poked in the shoulder, like what I was talking about earlier. So the floor of the cage was electrified.
The dog learned it couldn’t escape. Then he put the dogs in a cage where only half of the floor was electrified and the other half was not. The dog went on the electrified part and it actually didn’t move.
It didn’t move to the part of the cage where the floor was no longer electrified and it would be comfortable. And the reason it did this was what Martin Seligman called learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is essentially this idea that we learn that we can’t do anything to change our circumstances.
We learn that we’re helpless. We learn that we don’t have any control. And so this is what these dogs were learning in this circumstance.
This is what this experiment showed. And so when we apply this to ourselves and when we apply this to success and money and impact and freedom and all of this stuff, if we have had limiting beliefs and we have had these traumas throughout our life that have taught us that we cannot change things, guess what happens? We don’t move to the other part of the cage where we’re no longer electrified or we’re no longer limited or we’re no longer held back. Instead, what we do is we stay put, we stay stuck, we stay in place.
And then we wonder why things aren’t changing. This is why addressing these kinds of deep layers of trauma that have impacted us for so long is so important. Because we end up staying stuck, and we don’t know why.
Because we’ve learned that we’re helpless to change things. Luckily, as I said, we are not helpless to change things. It’s just a thought.
This learned helplessness is just a thought. It’s just an idea that we can reframe, change, reconceptualize, reprogram. We have the capacity to shift all of this, to shift this entire narrative and to go into something brand new once we realize that we’re not helpless and that we have the capacity to create a whole new world, a whole new bridge and I don’t know, ball of opportunity.
But we have to understand that this stuff exists first. And that’s why I say understanding that trauma exists for all of us is one of the most important things that we can do. As I’ve said, these can be really micro, micro traumas.
Things like a parental divorce, things like somebody telling you that you don’t get to have nice things until you get your homework done or you get an A on that test, or you just have to work harder. These things probably don’t sound traumatic, but when you’re told them over and over, what happens is you start to feel helpless to have nice things until you feel as though you’re worthy of them. And then you hang having more abundance, more prosperity, more success, more beauty, more freedom, more nourishment on feeling worthier instead of realizing that you were always worthy and you didn’t have to earn it.
This is the nature of how these systems work and why they’re a bit more complicated and complex than we often think they are. So there are obviously these small micro traumas that I’ve talked about. There’s also a lot of times really much bigger traumas that can be experienced.
Things like perhaps losing a parent, they died or you had to caretake them because they had mental illness. And so you learned that in the first case, good things always leave and then you transfer that to your beliefs about money or success. Or in the second case, if you had to caretake a parent who had mental illness, you might learn that I always have to take care of other people.
I always have to caretake other people’s. Needs always come first, which means I always have to work really hard. And so these beliefs end up becoming planted deep within your subconscious mind and influencing your behavior because of these traumas that you’ve experienced when you were younger.
Trauma can also come from things like education or old jobs. We always joked in my PhD program that a PhD is like a whole experience of just being traumatized the whole time because the professors are all like, you have to work hard and we’re going to make you suffer to get this degree because we suffered to get this degree. I don’t know why they talk like that, but everything’s better with funny voices.
But that was traumatizing. A lot of times we’ll have stepped into a leadership position at an old job and we were bullied in the leader position. And then we are afraid to step into a leadership position in our business because of that bullying or we have these experiences at old positions where we felt as though we weren’t treated right or our ideas weren’t listened to or whatever we tried wasn’t successful.
All of these things end up creating patterns that influence us in the here and now. This is what money mindset is about. This is what mindset is about.
This is what really setting yourself and your business up for success by building the foundation right to begin with is all about. Because when you address these things first, what happens is you’re not building your house on sand, you’re building it on a firm foundation. So what I mean by that is the house that you’re building is your business.
But if you’re building it on sand, you’re building it on all of these beliefs that are trying to crumble beneath your business and are sort of sinking below your feet. But when you address these mindset issues to begin with, as they’re arising, as you’re building your business, instead of ignoring them, thinking, well, I don’t need to do that stuff, and realizing that this is foundational, you understand that you can build that structure no matter what. One way that I like to talk about this with my clients is I like to talk about how it’s like planting a garden.
When you plant a garden, you might put 100 seeds in the earth, but only six of them sprout. But you’re not going to be anxious about, why didn’t the other 94 seeds sprout? Because you know what a garden is about. You know that you fertilize the soil.
You know that you’re going to grow these amazing plants from this soil that you have fertilized and prepared to grow these plants to begin with, you and your business are like this garden. The business being the plants that you grow. The zucchinis and tomatoes that you eventually harvest is the income and the freedom and the impact and the legacy that you’re harvesting from the garden of your business.
And the seeds and the soil are the mindset and the foundation in which the business can grow and feel fertilized and feel nourished and nurtured so that it grows those big, juicy tomatoes instead of those dry, shriveled up ones that taste like paper. So this is why we really need to understand these mindset issues, like how trauma has impacted us and how trauma can impact our business and our income. So other ways that trauma can show up are things like feeling resistant to structure.
How many of you have felt as though structure isn’t your friend? I’m not doing structure. I know. I personally hate the word discipline because discipline also means punishment.
However, I do like the term routine. I like getting into a routine where I know what to expect and I know what I need to do next. That feels really good to me.
Sometimes changing our language can be really powerful, but when you’ve had a parent driving you like a drill sergeant or when you’ve worked inside of a system. Like maybe you came from the military or maybe you came from a difficult industry where structure felt really constraining. Suddenly creating structure in your business is something that you rebel against because of that trauma.
And it impacts your ability to create consistency. So you can see how this is so multifaceted. We can also be retraumatized by things in the present moment that have threads to our past that remind us of things from our past, like working with a client that reminds us of our father or something like that.
Those things can become retraumatizing. And we don’t know why we’re responding, why we’re triggered so much by it. Triggers come in two flavors.
Triggers are there because either we believe something about what it is that’s being said or communicated to us, or it is connected to something that happened to us in our past, to a past trauma. And so if you find yourself triggered, i. E.
You are emotionally reactive to something that’s happening. It’s either because part of you believes it, like if somebody’s telling you you’re a big dummy with blue hair or whatever, it’s because you have blue hair and you believe that you’re a big dummy, or it’s because it reminds you of something from your past that was traumatizing. So what do you do about this? What do you do about having these traumas from the past? Well, there’s a lot of different aspects to it, but the long and short of it is a becoming aware of it.
You have to become aware of how these things are impacting you in the present moment. Now, this is a key component that I make very, very clear to my clients and in my work with my clients is that you don’t want to go through and just dig out every trauma you’ve ever experienced and lay it out on the floor and just examine it all. There’s not really a lot of point to that.
And it actually can become retraumatizing to just dig out all of your freaking trauma. I do not recommend you do that. And if you’re going to be digging out traumas, I definitely recommend you work with somebody who specializes in trauma, whether that is a therapist or it is a coach who specializes isn’t just trauma aware, isn’t just trauma acknowledging or informed, but specializes expertise in trauma.
Because otherwise some of these things can become retraumatizing. But the focus needs to be on what is happening in the present moment. What is going on today in my business, in my relationships, in whatever it is that you’re looking at in terms of this trauma and how does that relate to a trauma? And then how can we release, reprogram, rewrite the impact of that trauma from the past on our present moment so that it no longer has the reach, the impact and the subconscious holding back, holding us back that it has had up until this point.
So going back to what I was talking about earlier with the dog in the cage and the learned helplessness, we can teach that dog look over here, your paws aren’t getting shocked. You put that dog over on the other side of the cage over and over again until it realizes that it’s free and that it doesn’t have to be shocked. That’s the kind of process that you can go through.
You can do that over and over again. But we’re actually far more intelligent than dogs. There are other processes we can use like reprogramming memories, like rewriting some of these things that have gone on so that they are no longer impacting what’s going on in the present moment.
We can bring things like compassion, forgiveness nourishment and understanding to those pieces of us that have experienced these traumas so that it no longer like a child trying to get your attention, is constantly trying to say hey, pay attention to me. Because we have listened to it and because we have given it voice, it releases its grasp upon us. And what we can do is we can really begin to see triggers for what they are and begin to empower ourselves to make choices through the awareness that we have of what is actually going on.
The more aware, the more perception we have of how we’re being triggered by these old traumas and what part of us is being triggered. And so to summarize it becoming aware realizing that we have the capacity to change utilizing our tools for change like rewriting, reprogramming reconceptualizing these things through a new lens and understanding that we are not a prisoner to our past we are not a prisoner to those ancestral traumas to those childhood traumas to those experiences that we may have had and we can always break free. If that last point is the only thing that you can take from this podcast you’re going to change your life.
Knowing that you can break free means that there is an open road ahead of you. It’s just a matter of making it happen. And I know that you can make this happen because I’ve done it and I’ve seen it with every single client who’s attempted to work through traumas.
Every single client I’m going to tell you this every single client thinks I don’t know if I can do it and I have never seen one fail. As long as you have the openness, willingness and courage to go there, you will get through it.