Rachel Brandwene, LCSW
How Unresolved Trauma Can Disintegrate Relationships
Living in a constant state of survival response can cause unresolved trauma and take its toll on our relationships. Even if we aren't aware of it, unresolved trauma can create patterns of communication with our partners that often work against us.
When trauma is left unresolved, our communication in a relationship can often become defensive and unproductive. Instead of addressing and resolving conflict in a healthy and collaborative way, it can be all too easy to take the blame onto ourselves, others, or simply deflect it completely.
In these moments of intense emotion, our brain shifts into survival mode. Here are five behaviors that you may have not been aware of that can happen during conflict when unresolved trauma is present:
1. Dissociation: The tendency to avoid addressing and expressing your feelings or opinion due to feeling overwhelmed by emotion.
2. Subconscious shut-down: Trying to be seen or heard by the other person but getting stuck due to a sense of self-preservation.
3. Codependency: Looking for validation from the other person to reaffirm that you are doing the “right thing”.
4. Resorting to silence: Trying to break away from the conversation due to feeling powerless or uncertain.
5. Unwarranted apologies: Feeling a need to apologize or accept blame in order to make things “right”.
Unresolved trauma can also affect our overall approach to communication and lead to unhealthy habits in our relationships. But recognizing the signs of how unresolved trauma may be manifesting in our relationship is the first step in becoming conscious and proactive. With awareness and effort, we can address and shift the unproductive patterns of communication in our relationships, while building trust and respect with our partners.
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