Last week, I mentioned to my readers the concept of startup trauma. I didn't have enough lived wisdom yet to elaborate more. Then I went to Consciousness School this weekend. No coincidence that the founder coined the term Passive Trauma, as the hardest from of trauma to heal.
What is passive trauma?
Passive trauma is caused by chronic stress on the nervous system, locking it (including the brain) in "fight, flight or freeze" survival mode. Everything is seen as a danger, as a constant threat. In an entrepreneurial context, every environment is threatening, every person is out to criticise/destroy you, and every thought is ruled by the fear of becoming homeless.
Passive trauma is created through chronic "non-action", such as chronic neglect, chronic under-support, chronically not being seen, heard, acknowledged, validated, encouraged and/or loved. From a healing perspective, and in Alberto's wisdom, being beaten or surviving a car crash (active trauma) would be easier to heal. And in an entrepreneurial context, this is truer than ever.
The best news though is that trauma is healable.
Other than the very, very few lucky ones whose parents still cheer them on, 90% of women entrepreneurs are chronically under-supported (partly of their own mind's doing, partly due to cultural bias of supermom/career woman). They are very rarely acknowledged for their divine gifts. They are not made safe to tell their truth, without threat of being burnt at the stake.
Can Trauma Come Out and Play?
I've written about how "trauma is trauma", that it doesn't discriminate between a car crash, a rape or chronic under-support. Trauma isn't racist. Trauma isn't elitist. Trauma isn't selective. The best news though is that trauma is healable.
Back to Consciousness School, Alberto taught us a technique to confront trauma in a client/patient, without triggering it. Wise discernment!
Triggering a trauma is like detonating a land mine, leaving everyone shattered in its wake (and increasing the effects of secondary PTSD for the therapeutic practitioners). Confronting a trauma is laying out a trail of breadcrumbs to lure the frightened mouse, grumpy bear or sleeping dragon out of the cave for a truth-telling picnic.
Right then and there, boom! I realised that I've been doing this with my clients for years, just never had a name for it. As a kid, I loved it when my neighbours rang our doorbell to ask if I could come out and play. So for over a decade, I've been inviting my clients' shadow to come out and play.
Inner Child Archetypes
On the second day of Consciousness School, while waiting for class to start, I re-read Sacred Contracts to select my top twelve archetypes and to place them in their twelve "houses of enlightenment". I read this book years ago, but didn't implement the work.
Now I know why... Any earlier than this weekend, I wouldn't have been able to discern between my innate archetypes and my conditioned archetypes (you know, the ones that were imposed on us by parental, cultural, gender, and societal biases).
As read, I came across various 'child' archetypes, such as: the wounded child, orphan child (eg. Little Matchstick Girl), eternal child (eg. Peter Pan), and enchanted child (eg. Anne of Green Gables). I just assumed I was the wounded child, since I was culturally born to be a retirement savings account for my parents (like certain organ donation kids are born to be "spare parts" for their siblings).
But as I read deeper, I felt a resounding recognition to the orphan child:
- never belonged anywhere (was too much for this group and not enough for that group)
- childhood stripped away (catapulted into adulthood at age 3, to fend for myself, deeply knowing that no one would ever fend for me, leaving no conscious memory of what it is to be taken care of)
Hoarding/Binging like Adopted Children
As I lay under the palm tress, listening to the ocean waves, insight struck! Those with an unhealed inner orphan behave with money exactly like adopted children behave with food.
Adopted children raised in scarcity and passive trauma, even if adopted into secure loving homes, continue to hoard half eaten apples under their beds or binge on meals thinking there won't be any more coming. Can you relate?
Two current clients raised in scarcity and passive trauma, even if they are now "grown ass" women who repeatedly tell me how much money they have in their savings and real estate properties, continue to hoard their six-figure income, unable to enjoy the pleasures of life. When the pain of repressing pleasure and enjoyment gets too much, they binge on a year of travelling or a picture-perfect-catalogue beach front mansion.
How are you prolonging your own suffering?
And between the cycles of hoarding and binging, they suffer. They are living in constant tyranny of: scarcity (not having enough), anxiety (stuck in doomsday future), and depression (stuck in victim past).
Some women entrepreneurs play out this hoarding/binging cycle with food, some with sex, shopping, drugs, alcohol... and all with money. Almost like a sadistic rite of passage test from the Universe... Some inquiries if you're caught in this rite of passage:
- How are you prolonging your own suffering?
- Do you see how your inner orphan child is hijacking and running the show?
- Who is stealing your peace?
- Who is denying your ability to enjoy life?
I've been there. I fall into orphan-hijack manhole regularly. You're walking, you're walking, then suddenly it's pitch dark. You look up and spot the hole you fell through and think, "Aww man, I fell in again?!?" or "I didn't even see that hole!"
What's your manhole?
P.S. For the readers who weren't able to watch embedded video in last week's newsletter, here's the best tool to lift self out of hopelessness.