Individuation: Can Developmental Trauma Cause Someone To Feel Comfortable Being An Extension Of Others?
Just because someone acts as though they are an extension of others, it doesn’t mean that they will be consciously aware of this. Furthermore, even if they were to become aware of this, it doesn’t mean that they would be able to simply change their behaviour.
Through being in this position, their life is going to have very little to do with most of their needs and feelings. Instead, it will have a lot to do with the needs and feelings of others or perhaps one person in particular.
They are then going to have their own vehicle with which to experience life but they won’t act this way. It will be as if they are in another person’s vehicle and therefore, have the same needs and feelings and are going in the same direction as them.
Another way of looking at this would be to say that they will typically be outer-directed. Whether they do or don’t do something or if they feel happy or sad, for instance, will generally be defined by what is going on externally.
In general, they might not be aware of how they feel and most of their needs could also be a mystery. By not having a strong connection to themselves, they could typically believe that the needs and feelings of others are their needs and feelings.
Or to be more accurate, the needs and feelings of others can just be experienced as their own. What this is likely to show is that they have a well-developed false self that sits on top of their true self.
When it comes to their true self, this will be the part of them that will provide them with their true feelings and real needs. And, while their false self will be located in their head, their true self will be found in their body.
As they live in this way, then, it will show that they typically live in their head and don’t have a strong connection with their body. This false self is going to dominate and outmuscle their true self.
The Gate Keeper
Until this part of them is loosed up, so to speak, and their true self is allowed to see the light of day, they will continue to abandon and betray themselves. This will stop them from being able to express who they are and live a life that is worth living.
The trouble is that thanks to how strong this disconnected false self is, they are unlikely to simply wake up and see that they are living in the wrong way. Also, a big part of them is likely to do what it can to keep the feedback that shows they are living in the wrong way out of their awareness.
Experiencing anger, frustration and a sense of helplessness is likely to be a normal part of living in this way. But, these feelings could largely be moved out of their conscious awareness and this could mean that they often feel low and depressed.
With this in mind, it could take something significant for them to realise that they are living in a way that is not serving them. What could lead them in this direction is a breakup or another kind of loss.
Nonetheless, if something like this was to allow their false self to weaken and their true self to break through, they could still feel compelled to behave in the same way. This will be harder to do, of course, but the need will still be strong.
If they were to think about acting as an individual and expressing themselves and no longer blending with others, being a non-entity and both embodying and expressing their needs and feelings, they could experience a lot of fear and anxiety. Due to this, it is not going to be much of a surprise that they will continue to behave in the same way.
A Big Risk
Being connected to their own body and living their own life should be something that feels comfortable, not something that is seen as a threat to their very survival. Until this changes, they will continue to be out of touch with themselves, focused on others and live a life that is not in alignment with who they are.
At this point, they could wonder why living in a way that doesn’t serve them is what feels comfortable. They won’t live in a prison but it could be as if they are in a prison that can’t be seen.
A Closer Look
What this may illustrate is that their developmental years were anything but nurturing, with this being a time when they were deprived of the nutrients that they needed to grow and develop in the right way. Practically from the moment they were born, they may have often been left and when they were given attention, it might have largely been misattuned care.
This would have greatly traumatised them and their brain would have atomically repressed the pain and arousal that they experienced to allow them to keep it together and function. Additionally, they would have gone into a shut down, disconnected, collapsed and frozen state.
A Brutal Time
They would then have been born with a strong connection to themselves but, through being traumatised, they would have soon lost touch with their body and, along with this, their needs and feeling and created a false self. Moreover, they wouldn’t have been able to go through each development stage and start the individuation process.
Instead, they would have been born in an enmeshed state and they would have stayed this way, with them being too traumatised and estranged from their aggression/fight instinct to want to break away from their primary caregiver and to start to explore their surroundings. Staying close to and doing whatever this caregiver wanted would have been their priority.
A Build Up
The trauma that they experienced during this stage of their life might have also been compounded by trauma that they experienced as a child. So, as a result of what they have experienced, acting as an individual will be seen as something that will cause them to be left and for their life to end.
It won’t be seen as something that they can who whilst also being supported and being able to truly thrive. For this to change, they are likely to have a lot of pain and arousal to work through.
If someone can relate to this and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.