If All Trauma is Change, Is All Change Trauma?

Posted on June 24, 2020

I call these “the reciprocities.”  The answer?—short, sweet, and simple.


All trauma is change, but not all change is trauma. Let’s break it down a little.


Yes, all trauma is change. All events that are traumatic represent overwhelming change. Tornadoes. Major earthquake. That’s what makes them traumatic: they overpower us, totally make us unable to make sense of what’s happening to us, and to name what or if we feel. Everything is different without the hope of returning to a similar known state.


They have to be this extreme to be traumatic. When something is traumatic, your world is spinning, you may feel faint, weak, dizzy or shaky. Kind of “shocky.” Things may happen in slow motion.


Trauma is a  10 on the volume knob for difficult things that happen to us. Everything else is a lower number on the dial—even though it comes with big feelings. There are many other words for events of lesser difficulty. 


Then we begin to metabolize what has happened—another change. Our bodies and brains adapt to any injury caused by the event—more change. Then we begin to redirect our lives in different ways as we recover, which is yet more change.


But—not all change is traumatic. It’s not reciprocal.


Like we say, if you choose the change and it goes well, you’ll feel excitement and pleasure. Otherwise? People say they feel anxiety, awkwardness, irritation, fear, discomfort and uneasiness. Every. Single. Change. Brings. Strong. Feelings. Change of all sorts, sometimes traumatic, often disturbing.


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Elizabeth Power, M. Ed.

Extraordinary Speaker. Superb Facilitator.

CEO of EPower & Associates, Inc. is a sought-after speaker, facilitator, teacher, and consultant.  Her firm’s specialty is helping organizations make and manage change through learning and doing.  Her mastery of diverse interests and innovation has been recognized worldwide through awards and publications across a wide spectrum of disciplines.