Working with Everyday Small Trauma

ReflectionA couple of weeks ago I came across an article in the New York Times that addressed the inevitability of encountering trauma in our lives:

Trauma is not just the result of major disasters. It does not happen to only some people. An undercurrent of trauma runs through ordinary life, shot through as it is with the poignancy of impermanence. I like to say that if we are not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, we are suffering from pre-traumatic stress disorder.

There is no way to be alive without being conscious of the potential for disaster. One way or another, death (and its cousins: old age, illness, accidents, separation and loss) hangs over all of us. Nobody is immune. Our world is unstable and unpredictable, and operates, to a great degree and despite incredible scientific advancement, outside our ability to control it. (Epstein, 2013)

Working with our everyday small trauma begins with acknowledging and being willing to experience the hurt:  the feeling of confusion and disconnection, the feeling rejection,the feeling of anxiety that accompanies that hurt.

And consequently paying attention to our body response (numbness or fidgeting) and letting the emotion move through while noticing the mind scrambling to blame another or trying to avoid the situation all together.

As Epstein suggests:

The willingness to face traumas — be they large, small, primitive or fresh — is the key to healing from them. They may never disappear in the way we think they should, but maybe they don’t need to. Trauma is an ineradicable aspect of life. We are human as a result of it, not in spite of it.


Epstein, M. (2013, August 3). The Trauma of Being Alive. New York Times, Retrieved from

© 2013 Maria Stella, PhD. All Rights Reserved.