Trauma is an inseparable part of the human experience, there is no way to avoid it, what matters the most is how we approach trauma.

On this episode, we looked at the different ways that trauma can show up in our relationships, and how our childhood home environment plays a critical role in different aspects of our relationships; from selecting certain partners, to our friendships and our relationships at work.

We have also discussed vulnerability and trauma, different potential ways to treat trauma as well as the factors that create resilience in us in challenging times.

A truly thought-provoking episode that invites you to view your relationships in a different light.

About the Guest:

Nawar Sourij is an integrative psychotherapist with an extensive background in psychotherapy, Trauma therapy, neuroscience, NLP, Hypnosis and Time Line Therapy. 

The combination of her deep knowledge in psychotherapy and neuroscience in addition to many years of experience in the field has enabled her to become an outstanding psychotherapist, relationship expert, trauma therapist and speaker. 

 She is familiar and has worked with a diverse group of people from all nationalities and backgrounds.

In her approach she is open-minded, scientific, and compassionate. She is a licensed member of the “UK council of psychotherapy” (UKCP).

Episode’s Transcript:

Leila: Hi, and welcome to another episode of The Bright Shift Podcast. I am Leila, the founder of Bright Shift and your host on this podcast. For those of you who are not that familiar with Bright Shift, you can visit us at, where we offer online therapy workshops and meditation sessions to both individuals and businesses.

On this episode, we’re going to talk about Trauma, and how it shows up in our relationships. Trauma is an inseparable part of the human experience. There is no way to avoid it. What matters the most is how we approach trauma.

Joining me on this conversation is Nawar Sourij, a senior Integrative Psychotherapist and a member of United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. Nawar’s combination of deep knowledge in psychotherapy and background in neuroscience, in addition to years of experience in the field has enabled her to become an outstanding psychotherapist, relationship expert, and speaker.

Nawar, welcome to the Bright Shift Podcast. I’m very glad to have you here with us today.

NS: I’m happy to be here too, Leila.

L: So we’re going to talk about how trauma can show up in our relationships. But before that, let’s get a clearer idea of what trauma is. So to begin with, I want to ask you how trauma is defined, and why is it important to become familiar with what trauma is?

NS: Yes. OK. Well, trauma, essentially is an emotional response to an event. OK. Most of the time, this is obviously a horrible event. So, well, the reason why I’m saying, Leila, it’s a response, because a lot of people confuse traumatic events with trauma. And it’s not the same thing. So a car accident is a traumatic event. But trauma is our inability to move on after that traumatic event. So if two people…

L: So is trauma our response?

NS: It is. So if two people got into a car accident, one was never able to drive again, and they get flashbacks whenever they are in the car. So, that is a trauma. So if someone else recovered and was able to drive again, they did not develop trauma as a result of that traumatic event.

L: OK, and are all psychotherapists or psychologists able to treat trauma? Or does it require some additional special training?

NS: Well, I guess this actually depends on the person. OK? Because different therapeutic approaches out there, like, well, the focus therapy, EMDR, which is eye movement desensitization processing, CBT, integrative psychotherapy, these are all different modalities to train, to treat trauma. Some therapists are not trained to treat trauma, and some are. So we need to make sure that we do our research before we start therapy, because it’s such a delicate process, and obviously, we need to make sure that we get it right.

L: Yeah. So you kind of answered my next question, which was like, how can people make sure their mental health expert is trauma informed and can treat trauma? So should they just ask their mental health expert? Or should they look for some specific specialization?

NS: Yes. I think, Leila, first of all, they need to know what works for them, because some people may not prefer the traditional therapy, some people may prefer art therapy. For example, where the therapeutic environment is art-based, so they use activities.

So it’s very important that we educate ourselves, do some research about the different modalities out there to treat trauma, and see what works for us. And by all means, check with the therapist, their profile, their background, and to actually also make like an initial consultation. Ask them all the questions we have and see if we click, if this is someone I can work with.

L: And so, can art therapy heal, like severe trauma?

NS: It can, to be honest, because healing occurs in the therapeutic relationship, regardless of the modality. And this is what research is showing. So therefore, if they established a good therapeutic relationship, then there can be healing in that relationship, regardless of what media is used, or what modalities.

L: I see. Really interesting. And what are the signs of trauma? How does one know if they have developed trauma, the physical and psychological signs?

NS: Yes. Well, obviously, there are the basic signs that people are aware of, which is the flashbacks, the panic attacks. But more important than that, Leila, is how trauma actually reshapes our brain. So it can be so subtle to the extent that we don’t even know that we are traumatized.

But it can leave deep psychological injuries, then it forms our beliefs in a certain way, and we may not even know that this is actually trauma. Therefore, people, again, need to do their research if they are consistently feeling sad or they get triggered easily, or they act out certain past events. So these are all signs of trauma.

One of the basic signs is dissociation, which is zoning out. So you will find people saying, “I’m foggy, Nawar. I can’t focus.” So that’s a sign. Anger outbursts. So they can actually feel so much angry in, like their anger could be very disproportionate to the event actually.

L: Overreacting.

NS: Difficult – they’re overreacting, difficulty with relationships, which we’ll speak about later on as well. Flashbacks. Distorted thinking patterns to regain control, suicidal ideation, fear, sadness, shame, confusion, numbness. Some people stop even feeling. So some people could fluctuate between feeling too much and feeling too little, or not feeling at all. Guilt, difficulty concentrating. So these are all typical signs of trauma.

L: And is there like a time duration that we should keep in mind, like if the symptoms are going on for more than a month or two? Or the time doesn’t matter?

NS: I think the time does matter, because sometimes we could react to a certain situation appropriately, if you like, if someone upsets us, or if we break up. It’s OK, obviously, to experience these feelings, and we need to grieve. But if they’re masked, and we are always triggered, and we always fluctuate, and we suffer from mood swings, then we need to reach out for help.

L: I see. And so how does trauma manifest itself in relationships?

NS: Yup, I think that’s the $1 million question.

L: Yeah.

NS: Well, since trauma, shapes our brain, and since relationships are wired in our brain, then trauma can inform our relationship choices. And if it’s not resolved, we can keep repeating a pattern of dysfunctional relationships that are trying to heal itself through our repetition of the trauma.

L: So it creates a certain pattern in our relationships. And just to break it down, how does it affect our relationships in the beginning? What do you think, like, the way we start relationships?

NS: Absolutely. So in our brain, Leila, there is what we call a blueprint of relationship. Everyone has that. And that blueprint equals home. So if home, the family of origin was calm, relaxing, supportive to our emotional needs, then we will choose relationships based on that. It’s not even a conscious process. We will unconsciously attract people who were, who are aligned with this blueprint in our brain.

L: To create the same environment, kind of?

NS: Absolutely. Yes. So, and obviously, if home was safe, then we developed what we call a secure attachment. Then from that attachment, we believe that relationship is about giving and receiving, we are able to support and be supported, love and be loved, et cetera.

So we, it’s not hard for us to attract people who are healthy for us. Whereas if that blueprint says that home is dysfunctional, so the feelings of home is “I’m not loved, I’m not validated, I’m not understood,” then we are going to, again, unconsciously attract partners who will not meet our needs.

L: OK. So, and does this also include the dynamics between the parents that we have observed for years? Do we tend to create that same kind of pattern in our relationships, even unconsciously often?

NS: Oh, that’s a very good question. Actually, the dynamic may change because some people say, “Well, I consciously chose someone who’s different from my father, or who’s different from my mother.” Yet, they end up feeling the same. So what we repeat here is the unmet needs rather than the situation itself, if that makes sense. So we end up feeling home. So it’s just so familiar to feel neglected. It’s just so familiar to feel unimportant.

L: Yes. So is it like sometimes we try to find the same pattern that was available at home? And sometimes we try to find the opposite pattern?

NS: Yes. So what happens is, there is a phenomena called, repetition compulsion that Freud talks about. He says that the repetition, the compulsion to repeat trauma is stronger than the compulsion for sex, which means we unconsciously repeat traumas. And his explanation in so many theories think that the reason why we repeat trauma is to gain mastery.

Yes, so we want to master the situation this time. We would like to be in control. So our brain keeps representing us with these traumatic circumstances, so that we can undo or resolve the initial trauma. But obviously, this doesn’t work. Because if we choose people who are like our parents, we are going to end up with our emotional needs not being met.

So we need to be aware, again, in therapy, the therapist will raise the client’s awareness to this repetition and to explore it further, so it comes to the conscious mind so that the client is aware of what they’re doing.

L: And then speaking of home and the relationships, so where does the relationship with siblings come to play? Because I think that kind of relationship also, you know, shaped our outlook on relationships.

NS: It does. Because when we are growing up in the same family, with our siblings, and parents, each of us positioned themselves in a certain place. And we call this in unhealthy family dynamics, we call it the Drama Triangle. So that is the rescuer, the persecutor, and the victim.

So in dysfunctional families, you see people position themselves in one of these edges of the triangle. So you see some kids are the peacemakers, they rescue the situation, they want to please the aggressive parent, for example. And then you see others who are the persecutors will just rebel and they are angry all the time. And they could even later on become the scapegoat of the family. And then you see the victim. This could be a parent, or “[0:14:57] [Audio break], in this situation, I sacrifice for you,” and vice versa, so.

L: Wow, really interesting, you know, and all make sense when you put it into that kind of perspective. And, obviously, I think all of this will have an impact on how we end our relationships.

NS: Absolutely. And how we even – so if my family position, Leila, is a rescuer, then I am going to end up with someone and maintain the same position.

L: And then how it comes to play with regards to choosing our friends? So what we discussed so far, we could kind of, you know, apply it to romantic relationships. But how does it play with our friendships?

NS: 100% same thing. So two things that we, when it comes to relational trauma, there are two models that are used. One is this, the trauma triangle and trying to draw the client’s awareness to where they position themselves. And the other thing is the transactional analysis model by Eric Bern, which is the child, parent, adult. So that’s a very important model, because these are ego states. So each one of us has a parent ego state, a child ego state, and an adult ego state.

When we suffer trauma, our wounded child can create a huge child ego state. Then you will see people like that who will actually behave like children. They will, in the relationship, it will be like two kids fighting. OK.

And some people develop rescuers. For example, they will develop a huge parent ego state. They could literally be the parent for their partner, not their partner. And, but these are two unhealthy models. The healthier one and the healthiest one is to foster an adult ego state, which means the adult ego state believes about giving and receiving, no drama, no emotions. It’s very logical.

So one of the things that trauma does, is, again, it defines our ego state and which one is bigger. Then one of the goals of therapy is to help clients develop a higher or a bigger adult ego state, so that we can run our relationships from that perspective.

L: OK, great way of explaining it. And I think now, it all makes sense why we often, you know, create the same patterns in our relationships, or attract the same kind of people because I…

NS: Absolutely.

L: Yeah. I often hear people complaining about, why am I only, you know, attracting this kind of partners or this kind of friends? We can see why.

NS: Exactly. So adding to this, Leila, so if someone, for example, has a huge parent ego state, they are going to attract someone with a heart, a bigger child ego state. Because these two ego states in relationships, they create what Eric Bern calls a transaction. So the relationship will be maintained, because the child will never leave the parent, and the parent will never abandon the child.

So you see someone stuck in a dysfunctional relationship from that parent ego state and they say, “Oh, I can never leave. I can’t. My partner will not be able to survive without me.” But who wants to actually survive without someone? It’s a child, isn’t it?

L: Yes. Is it like sometimes these roles change? Like, sometimes, you know, that person is like a mature adult. And then sometimes, you look at them and they’re in their 40s, but they really act like a child, so.

NS: Yeah, that’s an excellent question. Yes, they do fluctuate. We do tend to shift ego states. So for example, if your boss at work says to you, “Oh, can I have a word with you?” And you’re walking behind them to your office, you’re automatically going to connect with your child ego state, and suddenly, the boss is the parent like, and you’re walking behind them.

But then with awareness, you can say, “Actually, why am I scared? Like, we’re both adults. Like, what’s going on here?” So it’s very important to be aware of these ego states. And again, answering your questions about relationship, friendships, yes, it’s exactly the same. All relationships, we tend to maintain, more or less the same position, unless our friend, for example, has a stronger different ego state from us. So you would see people, for example, saying, “Oh, I am this with everyone, except with this friend.”

L: Because that friend just changes that pattern or that dynamics with them.

NS: The dynamic. Exactly.

L: OK. So, I think it’s important to mention that all of these concepts, they are also applied to our relationships at work. For example, as you mentioned, when we are talking to our boss. So the way we are communicating with our manager or with our boss can very much represent how we were treated at home by our parents. Does that make sense?

NS: Exactly. It does. Absolutely. Yes.

L: And so you have developed a five-hour interactive workshop around this topic, which is healing relationships that are affected by trauma. And you have called it Healing Toxic Relationships. Could you please tell us how that workshop can help people in regards to their toxic or broken relationships? And what can they expect from that workshop?

NS: I think what they’ll expect is to understand more about how we end up in these dysfunctional relationships in the first place. And I briefly mentioned today some of these dynamics, which will be explained in depth in the workshop. So we’ll go through on the attachment aspect of it, the drama triangle: the parent, child, adult ego state, just to really help the client understand where they are at and where their partner is, or the friend or parent is.

So once we understand the theory of it, then we’ll be able to help the participants to develop ways to heal these relationships.

L: OK, so they will first learn how to realize and find these patterns, and then how to kind of treat them.

NS: Absolutely. Because the reason why we ended up in these relationships, Leila, is because we don’t have the awareness. And a lot of people, again, maintain that victim position. And they say, “Oh, well, it was chosen for me,” or “It was a traditional marriage,” or “I can’t leave now, I have kids.” So we want to challenge all these actually limiting beliefs and highlight the idea that all relationships are actually co-created.

L: OK. So when you say that all relationships are co-created, how is that defined for people who are, you know, in kind of abusive relationships, but they can’t really leave? Because, I know a lot of psychologists, especially in the West, very easily advise people to, you know, leave the relationship, and things like that. But again, we know that, also, in the Middle East, a lot of people are… That’s not the reality for them. They may be in the abusive relationships, but it may not be as easy for them to leave that relationship.

NS: 100%. I really get this, Leila, because yes, you’re right, the – our Eastern culture cannot be applied by the Western philosophy. So that’s as therapist, Muslim Arab therapist, we need to develop our own models to deal with such situations.

L: Absolutely.

NS: So in this case, we actually don’t necessarily advise the client to move. And therapy is not about advice anyway, but we empower the client. So then the client is able to see how I contributed to this, how I co-created the situation, to shift them from that victim mindset to an empowered place. And then when they are in that empowered place, they can set firm boundaries, they can reach out for help and support. So they will stop the abuse in the abusive relationship if you want without having to be–

L: That’s beautiful. Yes. Yes. That’s beautiful. So even though, if they may not be able to leave that relationship, but they will be empowered ,and they will see much improvement in their life if they get the help that they need.

NS: Absolutely.

L: So this course, Healing Toxic Relationships, for any of our listeners, if you’re interested, you can check out our website,, and click on online classes, and you can find it there to register.

And so my next question is, can we heal in relationships? Or, can being in healthy relationships heal wounded parts of our psyche that have been affected by trauma?

NS: I love this question, because it actually reinforces my pattern and belief that we can only actually heal in relationships. Because we are relational beings, we are innately relational. And as a relational psychotherapist, we believe, as I mentioned earlier, that healing occurs in the therapeutic relationship. So, when the therapist is able to meet the client’s unmet needs, the relational unmet needs, the need to be validated, to be heard, to be understood, to be seen.

So yes, we can only heal in relationships, Leila, but we have to be sure and we have to be careful actually, not to get into some unhealthy situations, because that could be what we can call trauma bonding. Some people end up in relationships where it’s so familiar, and the relationship is so emotionally tied, that they think this is love, this is healing, that you cannot heal in an unhealthy environment. If your needs are not met, you cannot heal.

So you can’t say, “I’m tolerating his behavior, oh, because he loves me.” Or, “I’m tolerating the abuse, because he did a lot for me, or he stood by me.”

L: Oh, yes. And if it’s – that relationship, it’s kind of similar to how it was at home. And if the home environment was kind of abusive and our current relationship is abusive as well, we may feel in our comfort zone that abusive relationship.

NS: Exactly. It feels so familiar. Exactly. And then the reason why we want some people say, “I want to fix it, I want to work on it,” because that’s – they’re hoping that through fixing this new relationship, they’re going to fix and resolve their relationship with their parents. So they have even a deeper unconscious motive, actually.

L: So a lot of these stuff are happening at the unconscious level, it seems like that. And how does our worldview change when we go through trauma? What does trauma do to our outlook on life?

NS: I’ll tell you what it does. Trauma makes us develop certain beliefs. So if our relational needs, again, are not met, as a child, we’re going to interpret it, Leila, as “I am not important.” “I am not lovable.” So these are called beliefs, limiting beliefs. So we are going, based on our dysfunctional and traumatic situation, we are going to develop on limiting beliefs. Then based on these beliefs, so if I believe I’m not important, then I’m going to feel terrible, feel sad, and then I’m going to behave in a certain way. I might isolate from people and shield myself.

So trauma changes the way we think and view the world. And based on that view, we feel certain feelings of shame, sadness, frustration. And then based on those feelings, we behave in unhelpful ways, which is what the CBT model addresses, how our thoughts create our feelings and actions.

L: OK. As you mentioned, basically, because of what happened at home, we start to kind of develop this outlook towards life. But how about the traumas that are shaped in, or they happen in our adulthood? For example, we may have, we may have had a relatively, you know, OK environment growing up as a child, but then, you know, somewhere when we are in our 20s or 30s, something may happen. We may experience trauma and that itself, again, it starts to change how we look at the world. So who do we become after that?

NS: That’s an excellent question. If we were lucky to have had that secure, safe, OK-ish childhood, then later, adulthood traumas do not impact us in the same way, because the security we developed as children created what we call resilience. So yeah, so that’s why not, they will, it will not affect us in the same way. If we had, we will bounce back from that later traumatic experience.

L: I want to talk about vulnerability and trauma a little bit. The popular culture is often encouraging us to be vulnerable and share our vulnerable side. But I think this often goes on without taking into consideration that many of our vulnerabilities are linked to the trauma or traumas that we have experienced. And therefore, I don’t think encouraging people to be vulnerable all the time is the right thing to do. So can you tell us about the importance of talking about trauma in a safe and preferably therapeutic space?

NS: Yes, absolutely. Because if we spill out our traumas in public, then it’s going to impact everyone. It’s very contagious. So therefore, we need to own our stuff. We need to make sure, yes, we talk about it in a safe environment. And the reason why, because if we talk our – about our traumas, then we can end up feeling re-traumatized, so.

L: We can relive that?

NS: We can relive that. And even worse, reliving it unconsciously. So I won’t know that I’m actually reliving it. So just talking about it triggered me, and I’m reliving it, and then I can go home and act out actually some of these traumas. That’s why it’s really dangerous if it’s not held in a safe space.

We’re not saying people should not talk to their friends or confiding them or ask for support, yes, but they don’t need to get into that. They can reach out for support in a healthy way. “You know what, I’m struggling with something and I would like your support.”

And this support doesn’t have to be about, talking about the thing. It could be maybe going for a walk together or going for coffee together, or starting a hobby together. Why does it have to be about talking about the thing itself? Especially if this person is not a professional, if they can’t go and talk to the person who hurt you. If it’s just for the sake of venting, then we need to be careful.

L: Thank you for clarifying that. Because I think it helps us to, you know, adjust our expectations in our relationships. If someone doesn’t want to share something with us, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not honest with us, or…

NS: Exactly. That’s, actually, a lot of people, Leila, say they feel like they owe people explanation, they owe people justification, but they actually not. You can say, politely say, “I actually don’t want to talk about it. I actually don’t feel like talking about it.” And ask people how they would like to be supportive, rather than being intrusive and thinking that we can only be close if we share every intimate detail.

L: Yeah. And I think that can become an issue in some cultures where nosiness is an issue.

NS: Exactly. Exactly. And they feel offended by not sharing. And that’s something, again, we teach in the workshop about setting boundaries, and when to say no, and when politely. And the reason why, again, we feel we owe people explanation is because we fear rejection, essentially. So we want this person to stay close to us, and we think if we don’t share all these details, they’re going to leave us.

L: Yeah. Because, also, sharing obviously creates intimacy.

NS: Exactly.

L: That’s for sure if that’s the case. But then we need to just keep in mind that, you know…

NS: To what extent.

L: Yeah, exactly, and in what settings. So how about our reaction to trauma? We know that one may go through a traumatic experience and doesn’t necessarily become traumatized by it. Is there any info research available on why we react differently to trauma? Or in other words, do we know why some of us are more resilient in our response to trauma than others?

NS: Yes, absolutely. And I think you actually answered the question partly, Leila, is that the reason why some people don’t end up feeling or the trauma leaves lifelong scars is because of their resilience. And resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from a difficult situation. OK.

And there are reasons why some people are more resilient, but it’s not just one, it’s a combination of factors. One is genetic element, and one is support. And this support can be by friends and community, family, and having that strong, healthy relationship with parents, or any significant person. It could be a granddad or a grandmother, or an aunt.

Culture or spiritual beliefs is also one of the reasons why people are more resilient than others. A talent or a skill, that’s also one of the reasons. And developing a tool of coping skills throughout life that we can draw from.

So all these reasons combined can explain why some people are more resilient than others. However, the good news is, there is, Harvard University, they did the research on resilience, and they specifically tell us certain stuff that if we do them, we can become resilient, which I will share with you.

L: We can get the conclusion that people who have a better support system, and in general, they’re, you know, they have better coping skills, either they’ve learned it or they kind of trained themselves to learn some healthy coping skills. And people who have a strong spiritual connection, all these categories, they have a better response towards trauma, or they’re more resilient.

NS: And they can overcome it quickly.

L: And then what about genetics? When you mentioned genetics, what do you exactly mean by genetics?

NS: Some people like, again, there isn’t a straightforward answer to that. But the genetical factor and the physiological makeup of some people, it makes them just more resilient or less resilient.

L: I see. Thank you for that answer. So please tell me about the Harvard research findings.

NS: Yes. So they’re saying, how can we build resilience? OK, they said, number one, to have a positive, realistic outlook in life. OK. So realistic, means your dreams are not too unrealistic on what you aspire for in life is not. Because then, if you don’t achieve it, you can be traumatized.

L: Yeah.

NS: Number two, to have a high sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. And they call it a moral compass. So some is interesting, because some people are very wishy-washy with their beliefs. And actually, this research is saying actually, if people have that moral compass, that can help them develop resilience.

And number three, is to believe in a greater power. Whatever that is. It can be God, nature, whatever the person believes in.

Number four, a dedication to a meaningful cause, and to have a sense of purpose. And the next one, to accept what they cannot change. And the last one is to have a good social support system.

L: I see. So these are all the results of the research. And they all make sense.

NS: Yes. So if we work on this, we can, even if we did not develop this resilience growing up, because of our difficult childhood, we can actually build it in our system.

L: So if we are experiencing trauma or if we have just experienced trauma, we can start applying all these points that you have mentioned to overcome the trauma easier and quicker.

NS: And to avoid or to become stronger to be able to deal with further difficulties in life. Because life is difficult. As cliche as it may sound, but it is. So we need to build that resilience within us. So by starting practicing and implementing these six points, they will hopefully be able build resilience.

L: Yeah, they can be looked at as also a preventive methods really for whenever we need them. But before I jump to the next question, I just want to ask you, what happens to us? Can you explain this briefly, what happens to us if we don’t treat trauma?

NS: Well, which is the majority of people, we live from a set of defense mechanisms. And you can also call them masks, social masks. So we develop very strong defenses that we implement on a daily basis. For example, avoidance. So we never talk about what happened to us, we don’t address our feelings, honestly. We isolate, we don’t reach out for help.

We can intellectualize what happened to us, and you say, “You know what, I had a brilliant childhood. My parents were amazing. I don’t know why I’m in a dysfunctional relationship. That’s very strange.” So, denial. So all these defenses and which, what you see people around you who haven’t done the work and there’s all the traumas doing in their life. That as well.

L: Yes. And I think there is also a clinical aspect of it, what it does to our body, and a lot of other issues, which we will perhaps discuss in another episode. And there is a famous quote from Peter Levine, which says, “The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy, and the power to transform and resurrect.” So it seems that how we approach trauma can make all the difference in who we become after.

That being said, could you talk about post traumatic growth and the opportunities of transformation that come about after trauma?

NS: Yes, I love this quote. Yes. And obviously, post-traumatic growth is, the definition of it, it’s the positive mental shift as a result of a trauma. OK? We’re not saying that we need to go through trauma, or that trauma is not destructive. So we need to bear in mind that trauma is destructive.

However, there could be that shift that could happen to us as a result of our trauma. If we resolve it, if we work on it, if we have the resilience, over time, we can develop maturity, we can develop cognitive complex processes, so we can understand and deal with things in in more depth.

And number three, we can be happier. And a number four, we can actually change our perception of life completely. We can change our meaning of life. So we can have a complete radical change in our meaning in life, and we can reexamine our life purpose as well.

L: This can transform us completely. And I think…

NS: It can.

L: Yes. If we manage to, you know, kind of treat that experience, that trauma, I believe the majority of times, we will be transformed to better human beings.

NS: Yes, absolutely. And it will increase our self-esteem. We develop what we call like a deeper innate wisdom.

L: Absolutely. And I’m not sure if we discuss this or not, but in case there is some misconceptions about what trauma is, you know, a trauma is not only the, you know, big events such as like earthquake, wars, or things like that. Anything small that we don’t have the capacity to respond to in a healthy way is considered as trauma. Right?

NS: Absolutely. And you’re right, absolutely right. This is one of the misconceptions people think like, I’m only traumatized if my house was set on fire, or if we had a car accident and everyone died except me. It can be as severe as that, but it can be as just the inability to move on from any loss.

L: Can you give us an example of, you know, few of the traumas that we may be experiencing on daily basis?

NS: Not moving on from something. Like if we are constantly triggered by something, that is a trauma. So for example, if my pet died and I did not grieve, then that is a trauma. So many things; if I lost something I like, anything, anything could be a trauma. As I said, if I did not overcome the triggers, that always happen when I remember, whether it’s consciously or when I’m reminded unconsciously.

So to avoid, to be able to develop this and get to this post-traumatic growth, we need to grieve. And that’s something a lot of us, because of our cultures and how it’s not good to share emotions and how we shouldn’t cry, we shouldn’t be angry, we shouldn’t be sad, we done in that grieving a lot of the losses. And without that, we will not be able to resolve the traumas.

L: Wow. So that is such a great point. In order for the post-traumatic growth to happen, you mentioned that we need to go through that grief process.

NS: Absolutely.

L: Yes.

NS: And we cannot avoid it. And a lot of us, again, with our strong coping strategies, distraction, moving on quickly, getting another partner when I ended, and all these things are actually what the majority of us do.

And something, another misconception of trauma also, Leila, is that trauma scars us forever, that there is no healing. And actually, people think that because I can – I cannot undo what happened to me, therefore, I’m scarred for life. But that’s not the case. We can heal the trauma, even though we cannot undo the events.

L: Yeah, absolutely. And so generally, what do you think some of the biggest misconceptions are when it comes to trauma that people should know more about?

NS: Yes. And I think you did start this aspect in like two minutes ago, when you started talking about these misconceptions. You asked me what’s… One of them is it has to be something really great and big. And I just added to it. Yes, that is one of the misconceptions that trauma has to be a huge event. And the second misconception is that we can never heal from it, because we cannot change the past.

L: Thanks very much, Nawar, for being here today. I really admire your approach and therapy, and learned a lot from you anytime that we have a conversation.

NS: Thank you, Leila. It’s lovely always. Talking to you is very enriching. Thank you so much.

L: Thank you. It’s been really great.

Thanks for listening to this episode. This week was Mental Health Awareness Week. And in that light, on the top of the mental health support services that we offer to individuals, I would like to encourage you to become more familiar with the services that we offer to workplaces and organizations.

There are a variety of services that we offer to workplaces, such as our leadership training programs, our customized workshops, online therapy, and more. We truly believe that empowering the workplaces with the right mental health support can play a significant role in enhancing the well-being of society as a whole. I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode. Thanks for being here, and see you next time.