Sense Of Safety: Can Developmental Trauma Cause Someone To Believe That It Isn’t Safe Enough To Exist?
When it comes to living a life that is worth living, it will be essential for someone to have a felt sense of safety. The reason for this is that this will allow them to be connected to their body, so their needs and feelings, and thus to express themselves.
This will mean that they will look like an individual and they will actually be able to act like one. However, although this will be the ideal way to live, it is not how everyone experiences life.
A Different Reality
When someone doesn’t have a felt sense of safety, what will be normal is for them to spend a lot of time living up top, so to speak. As a result of this, a number of their needs and how they feel will typically be a mystery.
As for expressing themselves, this is going to be something that is a challenge. Still, this is not to say that it will be a challenge in all areas of their life; there could be certain areas where this takes place.
So, they might be able to express themselves through words or pictures. Unlike expressing themselves through their behaviour and through speaking, this is something that can feel safe.
They might not share what they write or draw with others, though, or only with a small amount of people if they do. When they engage in something like this that is creative, it will be a time when their true self is able to see the light of day.
A Big Difference
When they are around others, they could typically act more like an extension of others than an individual. They are then going to act how other people want them to and how they think they want them to.
In general, they could come across as easy-going, happy and needless. Due to this, some people are likely to find it easy to be around them and enjoy being in their company.
At certain times, that’s if they are creative, they will feel free, alive and empowered but this won’t be how they typically feel in their day-to-day life. When it comes to their inner experience, they are likely to find that they often feel trapped, drained and helpless.
But as most if not all of their life won’t be a reflection of who they are and they won’t be able to freely express themselves, how else would they be? They won’t be living inside a prison but it will be as though they live in an invisible one.
By not having a good connection with their body or generally being embodied, they can have moments where they don’t even feel real and as though they actually exist. During these moments, they won’t feel anchored to anything and they will feel insubstantial.
It may feel as if they are simply floating around, are not part of anything and are nothing more than a detached observer of life. Consequently, it is not going to be a surprise if they often experience anxiety and fear and even terror.
If they are not putting on an act around others, they could be by themselves and have no desire to be around anyone else. This may allow them to be more connected to themselves and it can just be what feels comfortable.
Sooner or later, they can end up feeling deeply alone and have the need to be around another. The trouble is that as they are unlikely to feel comfortable enough to express who they are, they won’t be able to truly connect to another.
If they were able to get to the point where they were able to step back from what is going on, they might soon wonder why they are this way. They may find that they have more or less always been this way and could believe that this is just how they were born.
What this is likely to illustrate is that their brain has blocked out the information that would shed light on why they are this way. There is a chance that they are this way due to what took place during their developmental years.
Practically from the moment they were born, they may have been left and when they were given attention, it may have largely been misattuned care. This would have caused them to experience a lot of pain and to associate the world with being unreliable, unpredictable, overwhelming and terrifying and therefore as being unsafe.
As they were powerless and totally dependent, they were unable to change what was going on or find another caregiver. Their only option was to automatically repress how they felt and to go into a shut-down, collapsed, frozen and disconnected state.
A Key Stage
This stage of their life, from when they were born until around a year, should have laid the foundations for them to build a strong sense of self and grow into a strong and capable adult. Instead, it would have deeply traumatised them and stopped them from being able to move past this stage of their development.
Of course, their physical body will have grown and as time passed, their intellect, but at an emotional level, they will be stuck. Their brain and body will be carrying a lot of pain and arousal that will need to be worked through and released.
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.