This year, I delved into the profound realm of trauma through three enlightening books, each offering unique insights into its effects and healing. Here are my learnings from these eye-opening reads:
1. It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn
About Intergenerational Trauma that lives in your body.
A friend and a therapist (not MY therapist though) had recommended this book to me about intergenerational trauma and its influence on our lives. Wolynn explores the idea that unresolved inherited family trauma from previous generations can affect us in profound ways, influencing our behaviour, fears, and even health. He illustrates how identifying and resolving these inherited traumas can lead to personal transformation and breaking free from patterns that aren't our own.
Moreover, Netflix's show "Another Self," based on this book, vividly portrays these generational struggles and the path to resolution. I watched the show first, then read the book after. I recommend you do the same, in order to get yourself prepared for the deep work you will do with the book.
2. What Happened To You by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry, MD. PhD About understanding personal histories and experiences for healing and cultivating empathy.
By asking the question "What happened to you?" instead of "What’s wrong with you?", the book highlights the importance of empathy in healing and creating supportive environments.
Oprah Winfrey, along with Dr. Bruce Perry, beautifully explores the impact of trauma on individuals' lives. Their collaborative work focuses on the power of understanding people's experiences and emphasizes empathy in addressing trauma.
This book has been a revelation in cultivating self-compassion for me. Often, we become our own toughest critics, and I've caught myself in moments where I relentlessly question, "What's wrong with you?" Yet, delving into our personal history—our childhood, infancy, and even the forgotten events—offers profound insights into why we behave as we do. Understanding our own past fosters empathy not just for ourselves but for those around us too. It prompts a shift from a mindset of anger, frustration, and judgment to one of love, understanding, patience, and compassion. When we consider the possible experiences that shaped someone's actions, we enter a mental space where empathy reigns supreme.
3. The Myth of Normal by Gabor Maté, MD. with Daniel Maté
About inner turmoil and its manifestation on health in modern society.
This book had been on my radar for a while. During the pandemic, I was introduced to Dr. Maté's work by a friend, who's a coach and entrepreneur. Ever since stumbling upon his talk on YouTube, I've been captivated by his insights.
Gabor Maté and his son, Daniel Maté, challenge the notion of 'normalcy' and explore the roots of trauma, often manifested as health crises in our bodies. They discuss how societal expectations and the pursuit of fitting into the 'norm' can intensify trauma, and lead to internal conflicts and mental (as well as physical) health challenges. They advocate for a more compassionate understanding of human experiences, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and self-awareness in navigating life's complexities.
I also mention this book in my other post, “Why I Quit Ad Tech (And Why You Should Maybe Stay)”
Some paragraphs from the book that I’d like to share with you:
“Disease is an outcome of generations of suffering, of social conditions, of cultural conditioning, of childhood trauma, of physiology bearing the brunt of people’s stresses and emotional histories, All interacting with the physical and psychological environment.”
“Trauma is not what happens to you but what happens inside you.”
“Down to the very cellular level, Human beings are either in defensive mode, or in growth mode, but they cannot be in both at the same time” - Featuring Gordon Neufeldand in the book
In addition to exploring books on trauma, I came across valuable supplementary resources that have significantly contributed to enhancing mental and physical well-being. Here are two exceptional pieces of content that offer insightful perspectives on trauma, healing, self-awareness and consequently, mental, physical and emotional wellness:
Podcast: “A Science-Supported Journaling Protocol to Improve Mental & Physical Health” introduced by Andrew Huberman
In this podcast episode on The Huberman Lab, Andrew Huberman delves into the science-backed benefits of a very special type of journaling. He outlines a structured journaling protocol designed to be done just four times, writing about the most difficult event of your life.
I stumbled upon this gem while driving back to Madrid from Southern Spain in December of 2023. It feels incredibly fitting to have discovered this episode before the year’s end, marking the perfect conclusion to my year of understanding and learning about trauma. As soon as I got home, I dedicated the next four days to engaging in this journaling protocol.
This experience not only helped unravel aspects of myself—my actions, behaviours, and emotions; who I am and how I am—that had remained unexplained, but in just four consecutive days, it unveiled and healed far more than three years of therapy ever did. It's astonishing how it revealed connections that would have otherwise gone unnoticed in my life.
The beauty lies in its simplicity: a mere four days, 15 to 30 minutes each time, and it's free. It's an incredibly low investment, offering potentially high returns—even if doubts linger, it remains a low-risk, potentially transformative activity.
!!!!! Couple it with a YouTube Video: "How to Listen to Your Body" by The School of Life.
This video reiterates the idea that emotional difficulties live on in our bodies. Verbally expressing these experiences, helps release tension from our bodies, preventing it from accumulating. AKA “letting it all out” with words, whether written (like the journaling protocol) or spoken (in case of therapy). For me, it offered a solid explanation of the mechanism behind the type of journaling introduced in the Huberman Lab (above) and effectively illustrated why this approach holds potential.
Each of these books and resources significantly broadened my understanding of trauma and its far-reaching effects. They underscored the importance of empathy, self-reflection, and breaking free from generational cycles. Reading them not only enriched my knowledge but also deepened my compassion for those navigating their own trauma, including myself.
These resources aren't just about understanding trauma; they're about acknowledging its prevalence and learning how to support ourselves and others in the healing journey.
I hope these resources offer you as much insight and enrichment as they did for me.
Which resource are you most intrigued by?
Would you recommend any other books, podcasts or YouTube channels that contribute to dealing with trauma?
With love, S