Trauma and Adversity to Self Actualisation
by Dr Margaret Jinn Ngu
As I sit in my medical office each day, I get to witness how each person arrives with their pain and suffering. It is very tempting to be drawn in to manage and treat the symptoms (body, emotion or mind) and feel the hero that I’ve “fixed” the problem. Patients want that. But I’ve got to say, “Just hang on a minute, let’s look what’s underneath the stone first. What’s trying to come out?” I remind myself about my training time at PANCH community hospital at ER when we were trying to stop the pain of a very anxious woman with abdominal colic; then this “fat” woman gave birth to a screaming baby in the ladies toilet! She (and we) did not know she had been pregnant.
I have been looking at adverse experiences more closely and more times than not I have seen people come out of that with greater awareness, greater commitment to living their lives more fully, lovingly and creatively. Having gone through the process most will say, “ I am glad this happened to me.”
So it seems like each of these ordinary people with ordinary lives were all on a “Hero’s Journey” and found their Holy Grail. And yet most people in their ailments are caught in the system of being pathologised and therapised. There is room for immediate action of course. However if you think there is more to it than that then the following may interest you.
Firstly, realise that the body never lies and body symptoms are our allies, letting us know that our body, emotions, mindsets and behaviors may not be congruent with our true self. In short, we are lying to ourselves in some way. “Huh?” you say “Not that I know of.” Yes I say, whether you know it or not. What this mounts to is that you may not know as yet that there are hidden yearnings in your symptoms and your pain may be an evolutionary step to lead you from adversity to self actualisation.
What we do now know is that in the developmental journey, one’s personality is molded by the environment, our primary carers’, familial and racial beliefs and attitudes as well as by adverse childhood or adulthood events. It has been shown by the ACE study (Adverse Childhood Experience) of more than 440,000 people that the greater the number of adverse childhood experiences, the greater the morbidity (disrupted Neurodevelopment, Social, Emotional and Cognitive Impairment, Adoption of Health Risk Behaviors, Disease Disability & Social Problems and Early Death). It has also been shown in the field of Epigenetics that the traumas of your grandparents and great-grandparents can impact your DNA and influence your health and your behaviors. In fact the history of the world can be carried in our genes as well as in our triune brain. In case you are starting to feel this is a lost cause. You would be happy to hear the epigeneticists also say we can “shake it off”! Shaking it off to me is a process of awakening through to the mystery of knowing.
In this process of awakening we transition from automatism (the first stage of blind reflex responses) to awareness (the second stage) and is one of the most difficult that a person passes through. Awareness means acknowledgment of one’s limitations, facing wrong conclusions, destructive emotions, self-defeating behaviors and lack of integrity in the widest possible sense. The only way of knowing our highest and truest principles can come about is through a highly personal experience of the UNTRUTH that blurred the way, so far, to that particular truth. This transition is the most difficult that one has to pass through as the ego has difficulty admitting that it is driven by unreasonable fears, superstitions, generalisations, obsolete conditions that have no bearing on the present. It goes against its vanity for it likes to see itself more evolved and freed than it is. The longer one denies what is, the more one suffers. This stage requires courage and cultivation of one’s will. The stages of understanding and knowing follow when we become aware of our blind reflexes, understand the truth of why they existed (caused by specific misconceptions) and the disharmonies they created. Knowing has a healing effect on yourself and your entire environment.
The signs to look out for when we are in untruth are when we have body symptoms and/or feelings of “stuckness” such as anxiety, grief stricken, disgusted, criticised, unsupported, unsafe, overwhelmed, worthless, helpless, conflicted. These are not due to deficiency of serotonin or anti-depressants. People can heal through a guided practice of mindfulness and focused sensory-grounded attention to sensations and emotions felt in the body. The tried and tested fact is this - “In order to Heal, you must Feel.” When you do this, you will feel what journeyers of this process feel - a dissolving of the stuck emotion and sensation. As you go through the layers of stuck-ness and its dissolution, you will access the gems beneath revealing your Essence – primary essential energies of vibrancy, radiance, knowing, love and connection that lead you to create and actualise your true purpose.
Dr Margaret Jiin Ngu is an Integrative Holistic Medical doctor in Melbourne with specific interests and expertise in transforming illness, adversity and trauma into pathways to self actualization. She is available for Skype consultations and runs workshops and retreats on the Transformational Journey Email: email@example.com. Clinic phone: 61 3 98082188