27 Feb Why is my reaction different?
Everyone responds to events differently and what might be traumatic for Sara might not be traumatic for Tina. So, please don’t be judgmental about you or a friend’s reaction to an event. So many different factors influence how a person responds, that the degree of trauma someone experiences will vary from one person to the next. Take this example:
Charlie saw his friend Kendra kill and skin a rabbit. Charlie was disgusted and felt faint. He even had a few nightmares about it and couldn’t be around his mom when she prepared and cooked raw meat. But Kendra never thought twice about it because she had grown up on a farm and often ate rabbits.
Charlie and Kendra are examples of people having different reactions to the same event. Now you understand why: Charlie grew up in a large town that viewed rabbits as adorable and some people even had rabbits as pets. Kendra hunted, killed, skinned, cooked and ate them.
Now, if Kendra told Charlie that he was ridiculous for having nightmares, would that mean that Charlie was wrong? Of course not! If you keep thinking about being shoved in the sandbox during kindergarten and made to eat dirt, but your mom says it means nothing, whose response should you trust more? Yeah, yours! Don’t minimize your trauma.
Sometimes we have reactions to events that are so different from other people’s reactions we wonder what is wrong with us. Here’s a common example:
You’ve just finished watching a sad movie with a group of friends. A few people are crying and some are laughing because they can’t seem to cry. Anyway, you have a different reaction altogether. You can’t stop crying. You are convulsing. You are hysterical. You don’t understand. Have you ever had a reaction like this?
If so, ask yourself a few questions in order to create some awareness about your connection to the movie. What are some of the themes throughout the movie? Do you see patterns in your life as well? Do your research on the topic and reach out to someone to talk to about it. Overwhelming emotional reactions may be an indication of trapped trauma in your mind and body.
People have different reactions to events based on who we are, our genes, our experiences and the way we were raised. You can read a lot more about that in Trauma 201. For now, remember not to minimize your response or a friend’s response to an event. When you show empathy and support for people who are hurting, they will likely do the same for you.
Have you ever reacted differently to a situation than a friend? What happened?