Practical Growth: A Self-Recovery Podcast

Time to Face the Music: The Genetic and Historic Context of Trauma

July 20, 2023 Season 3 Episode 302
Practical Growth: A Self-Recovery Podcast
Time to Face the Music: The Genetic and Historic Context of Trauma
Practical Growth | Self-Recovery
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

We are living in a new age. Now, more than ever people know more about their mental and emotional health. We're becoming an informed public, but we're not quite taking that knowledge far enough...

As we become more informed on the realities (and long-term effects) of trauma, we have to face a lot of hard truths. Specifically, our trauma has deep links to our genes and history as human beings. 

If the human brain hasn't changed in 10,000 years, it means our physiological reactions to trauma are also little changed. Acknowledging this takes us on a supercharged journey into the heart of truth and a future of mental and emotional freedom. 

Ready to see the past for what it is? Ready to use your trauma-informed knowledge to change the future? Join me as we uncover the truth in this episode. 

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Love the podcast? Leave a 5* review on Apple Podcasts. Ready to commit to the next level of transformation? Join my email list to get my best advice. Want to get coached by me? Apply now:

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Practical Growth podcast with me, ebi Johnson. Author, nlpmp and cognitive reappraisal coach. This is the podcast created for people like you, people looking for more, more health, more peace, more happiness. Each week, I explore a new topic in pop psychology and help you build a better life and better relationships. Join me for special guests, exciting ideas and practical advice that you can use to improve your life from the inside out. Let's get into it. Hello, hello, hello again, my lovelies, it is me, ebi, your favorite mediumcom writer, your favorite TikTok coach, your favorite NLPMP and cognitive reappraisal specialist. Back, back, back. Who could believe it? Another two in a row. She's on a roll, my friend, she's on a roll. Today we are going to be talking about what it says on the 10 trauma, trauma, trauma, trauma, but not just any trauma. We're not going to keep going over the same old things how your relationships have been affected, how your sense of self has been affected. None of that. What we're talking today is big picture. We're talking deep truths about our trauma together as a community, as a species, as a people. Big, big truths, truths that can take us to the heart of the big big picture at play. What am I talking about. I'm talking specifically about the history of trauma, the history of trauma that we have created, recycled, survived and survived again for ourselves, specifically how this trauma has affected all of us and helped to create the world that we live in now. That's why we're talking about that today. So why? Why am I going so? Big picture One it's fun. I like to talk about big picture stuff and I like to talk about history, specifically big picture, human history, the scope of history, what we keep getting wrong and what we keep getting right. Because it's important. It's not just fun, it's important. Once you start to apply your knowledge of trauma and the human psyche and the human animal and the way it behaves, you start to see a pretty clear, clear, repeat, okay, some clear patterns and you can apply that to a wider stage. And when you see those patterns and you see the repeating, you can do something to stop it. Okay. And we see our trauma everywhere. It is everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. You see it in our politics and our local communities, in the very way In which we structure this world. It could be argued that even the way in which we structure this world to crush the smallest and benefit the, you know, the least among us Is that trauma linked, is it? We're gonna see, we're gonna see. We're gonna ask some big questions today, so let's just go ahead and jump right into it. Trauma, big picture how is it affected us and how is it continued to affect us? So, before we can really jump in and we're just gonna Really quick recourse, are here for those who maybe, let's say, you just tuned in for the first time, you never read any of my stuff, you're new to this journey, your friend is just forced to listen to this podcast, you don't even really know what trauma is, right, so let's just go ahead and break that down. What is trauma? In the shortest, simplest way to explain it, trauma is? It's an emotionally stressful, emotionally terrifying situation that outpaces your brain and your body's ability to cope. So, no matter what the experience is, it ultimately triggers the fight or flight. Part of your brain goes oh my god, I'm gonna die and I don't know how to deal with this. And it triggers that panic in your blood floods with with cortisol and some other stress hormones which are really, really bad for your physical body and which create that kind of sense of breathlessness, the racing heart, the sweating, the nausea, that kind of physical response that you get. Okay, that is trauma. That can be trauma and we get that throughout childhood. People can experience it through Interactions with others in adulthood, through dysfunctional, brutal relationships. There's a million of one different ways someone can be traumatized and what is traumatizing for one person may not necessarily be traumatizing for the other person. Okay, because there are physiological elements At play to that stress response. But ultimately, that's what trauma is. Right. It's a really big, scary experience that you don't have the mental or emotional capacity to deal with. It completely overwhelms you and can put you in that fight or flight state. Okay, so with that out of the way, the second thing you need to know before we can really break into this big picture trauma history of humans. How does this keep happening? Why does it keep happening? You need to understand how trauma affects us, because that's why this is so important. Okay, that's why this is so important. First of all, the human brain hasn't changed in 10,000 years. Okay, you have to understand that in the last 10,000 years, every single human being who has been alive through every single event on this planet has had the same brain as you. They have physically had the same brain. What does that mean that means for the last 10,000 years, every human being on this planet has had the same cognitive abilities? Okay, cognitive powers, that means the ability to maintain speech, to think, to memorize things right. That's the learning center of the brain. That's kind of our conscious thinking part of the brain. Beyond that, things like the limbic system have been the same. That's a very primitive part of the brain. That's the part of the brain that triggers stress, the stress response that better Assigns emotional importance to something. Okay, so that is all been the same for the last 10,000 years. Okay, so you can imagine yourself experiencing everything terrible that's ever happened and the response would probably be pretty darn close. Okay. So, with that being said, that means that for the last 10,000 years, trauma has affected us in extremely similar ways, even if we have not thought about it the same as a people in our cognitive areas, it has affected the brain and been experienced by the brain in the same way, because the brain has been processing and doing all the same things for 10,000 years. So trauma has been damaging the human brain in the same way for 10,000 years. Trauma has been damaging the rest of the nervous system the same way for 10,000 years. More importantly, what we've learned recently is that the experience of trauma can actually damage genes in future generations. So a mother, before she's ever even pregnant, if she experiences substantial trauma, her genes when she has children 10, 20, 30 years later don't express necessarily the way they should. And that means, let's say, she passes down her genes. For mental health, let's say gene one and gene two out of five need to be quote unquote active for that offspring to not experience depression. Well, unfortunately, that mother's genes, because of the trauma she experienced when it got expressed, when she passed it down to her child, gene two didn't activate, only gene one. So that means that that child perhaps is more prone to depression, to anxiety, to eating disorders. There's a whole list of things that can happen and it all starts with that mother's experience of trauma, even as a child, before she ever has children. This is very serious. This is called epigenetics and it's been studied on Irish famine survivors, the offspring of people who survived the transatlantic slave trade, and also in Holocaust survivors, and it's very, very, very true. The trauma experienced in previous generations is passed down to the next. That happens on a genetic level, it happens on a biological level, right, you inherit nervous systems of your parents, of your grandparents. You can inherit their anxieties. You can inherit their phobias okay, if someone has a fear of water, you may end up with a fear of water, or you may end up with a fear of dogs. The thing is, you can inherit fear, okay. So when you put that in context and you look at the human brain again, you can put yourself in any historical period, context, situation and you can basically imagine what people were feeling. Even if they weren't acting on those feelings, you would be able to imagine the physiological experiences to the horrors and the traumas that they were experiencing, because their brain was processing things the same way. Okay, their nervous system was processing things in a similar way. So that is huge. Our trauma is not just a one and done personal experience. It becomes a part of our core, it becomes a part of our family, it becomes a part of our lineage, and now we can see that in the big picture. Now the pieces are coming into place. Okay, this, this is where we find the historical links to our trauma. People are passing down mental illnesses. There's now evidence to show that certain personality disorders, like narcissistic personality disorder, have a high heritability rate. Outside of environmental causes, there are genetic factors behind certain personality disorders and mental illnesses. That's no longer up for debate. We are a traumatized species, physically and emotionally, be getting more trauma every single generation For those who don't do the work, who don't do the heavy lifting to get their nervous systems back online, who don't work to find physiological peace before they pass on their genes to their children. This is how we keep creating more people with weaker, more damaged nervous systems, an offspring who suffer worse every generation from things like mental illness. We have been responding to stress and trauma the same way for 10,000 years, 10,000 years of this. People were experiencing unimaginable horrors and they just didn't have the knowledge and the access to resolve anything. But we do now. That's the interesting thing. As a species, we've now come to a point where we do have this knowledge, we do have the evidence and we do know what could improve our outcomes. And you just look I mean just look at it. I like to go all the way back. And if you think about our little branch of the human evolutionary chain, right was started basically like with Chromagnoman, was like the first Homo sapien, something like that, and at that time there were still peoples who may have been living between the ground and the trees. So imagine your ancestors all the way back then running in fear for their lives every day, constantly chasing animals, maybe getting killed by them, maybe dying unexpectedly, not understanding what's going on, maybe not even really having formal language or communication, and experiencing constant threat until you climb into a tree and get a couple hours of sleep before the sun rises Wow, horrifying. And then you can just go all the way from every generation and imagine how your nervous system would respond to those threats, how it would respond to living in that kind of environment. More importantly, if that's the environment that we came from, an environment of constant threat, constant stress makes sense to why some of us feel so incapacitated by anxiety in the current kind of world that we live in. Right, because it triggers familiar stress, familiar pressures. It's a big, big picture. So how do we fix it? Everyone likes to get online and argue about we should have this political system, we need this person and they will fix everything, or we have to do this one kind of superficial thing with the straws and then that will save everything. But fundamentally, every issue we have, when you boil it down, every issue across the world, it's people. People fundamentally cause the issues in all of our systems that we build. People have to be the starting point for change. Specifically, everyone needs therapy. It sounds so ridiculous, but it's so true, right? Ultimately, everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone needs a chance for a healthy nervous system and to resolve whatever their personal pain, trauma, stresses in their life. They have to be able to get themselves out of fight or flight. They have to be able to ingest and inform themselves about the reality of human psychology and human behavior. As boring as other people are gonna find that, that's kind of square one. We all need to understand who we are, how we work and where we came from. That has to be fundamental. We have to person to person, individual level all the way up to a societal level. We gotta start changing what we celebrate as humanity, what we aim for as human beings, what we set as the baseline for our behavior and our interactions with other people. Now, everything else beyond this point, this is all just. These are my personal opinions, but I think from there you focus. You have to set empathy as a goal from birth. Everyone should get a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge, huge supply of empathy from birth and emotional intelligence, education from birth Age, appropriate emotional intelligence and empathy. Encouragement and education Absolutely a starting point. Let's start raising kind human beings who are kind to each other as the default, instead of cruel people who hurt others around them because they are hurting as the default. From there, it should be encouraged for everyone who wants to have children, who wants to start a family, to choose better partners and to be better partners themselves. So many of the things that we elevate as what we want in a partner or what we chase or what we try to get, it's so superficial, it's toxic and it's dangerous. If you're serious about starting a family, if you're one of those people who is always craved having a home full of children, that's great For those children. You should be picking the best possible partners. And that doesn't mean physical looks. It doesn't mean cash in the bank, cars in the driveway, it doesn't necessarily mean any of that. The number one goal should be emotional intelligence, empathy, compassion, being able to hold space for other people. That should be one of the primary traits that you seek. Out is true compassion, someone who's done the work, who's healed himself, who is aware, who is self-aware, who takes accountability. From there again, it's just educate, educate, educate. We all need to be reeducated, not just about the brain and trauma, but about our history, our long-term history as a species, what we've gone through, how has that changed our brains, how has that changed our bodies? How has that changed the way we think about life? And is that the best way to think about it? There has to be major questions asked if we're serious about surviving and having a future that all of us can actually thrive in. That's really it, that's really the sum of it. That is the big picture and we have to decide what we're going to do with it. Are we going to, now that we have the knowledge, now that we can clearly see the patterns in front of us, are we going to keep doing the same thing? Because you know what they say about people who keep doing the same thing and expecting the same outcome and that applies on a huge, massive scale. The trauma that repeats in our relationships with our boyfriends, girlfriend spouses, that cause those toxic push-pull dynamics. We're playing them out in our politicians. We're playing them out in our celebrities. We're playing them out in these virtue signaling soap boxes that we get on in these communities with no real change taking place. Look around, this is not a world built on empathy, and one thing we know is that people raised in trauma, a lot of them, struggle with empathy. A lot of them struggle with empathy. So is that what's happening? Is that what has happened? Do we have such a cruel world that thinks so little, that does so little for the least of us? Because we're looking at 10,000 generations of unresolved trauma, of unresolved anger, of unresolved hang-ups, of looking everywhere but within and looking everywhere but at empathy. It's a valid question to ask. And again, if you're going to ask that question, ask the next logical question what would our world look like if we broke from that and built on empathy instead? Thank you so, so much for listening. I hope that was enlightening for you, or at least a little bit interesting. Again, it's a question that's worth asking, a lot of questions worth asking, and big picture thinking is always helpful, even if it comes down to only analyzing your own patterns and choices that you make for today, tomorrow. So I hope that was illuminating. I hope you learned something from that. If you would like to go back and learn a little bit more about the human brain, about human development, there's a very interesting book called Britain BC by Francis Pryor that's one that I've just cracked into at the moment which explores prehistory in Britain, but specifically the development of the human brain and our communities and how we kind of progressed into the societies that we are today in the West. So a very interesting read, especially for those who want to apply a trauma-informed lens. So that is it. That is all. Again, hope you got something from it. If you did, don't forget to go and leave a quick five-star review on Apple Podcast. It just helps other people find me and it helps me get my stuff in front of all the right people, which is good for me, good for you, good for everyone involved. So head over to Apple Podcast and leave a five-star review, if you haven't already. For everyone else, don't forget to follow me on mediumcom and, if you'd like, you can also apply to get coached. I've got a new coaching program starting this autumn. The first session is already sold out, but there will be another one starting in September and October. So if you want to make sure that you're in for that, head over to therealebjohnsoncom and click on Working With Me to apply. For everyone else. Thank you for listening and I will see you next time. Keep your heads up, keep your eyes on the stars and keep moving forward. Bye-bye.

History and Impact of Trauma
Empathy and Emotional Intelligence's Importance"