“ I didn’t think that I had the right to be in pain”, these words from Chelsea Handler on the Bill Maher show recently got my attention.
My husband Jason was watching Bill Maher and I was half paying attention. I am not a huge fan of his or of shows on politics because they make my blood pressure rise. I am so glad I listened in because she gave me such a great example of how small t traumas can show up.
Chelsea was on the show promoting her book Life Will Be the Death of Me. She wrote this book about her emotional struggles after the 2016 presidential election. She shares that her life became unhinged and she went to see a Psychiatrist and after 3 weeks of bitching about the president, she was able to get to the real root of the issue.
She talks about how her life also became unhinged as a little girl when her brother died, and that the election had been a huge emotional trigger to everything being destabilized.
It was about this time that I began talking back to the TV saying, “yes yes I am seeing this every day with my clients and peers” the destabilization of our country by the election of someone seen as a perpetrator, gaslighter, etc has triggered trauma that they did not even know that they had.
Chelsea went on to say that she didn’t think that she had a right to be in pain, because she had not been assaulted, emotionally or physically abused. She said, “I didn’t have anything that I deemed worthy of being damaged. I don’t get to be in pain, I have this big life, this great career” So she had diminished her pain and had not given her inner kiddo the chance to receive healing.
The truth is that Chelsea’s experience is so common. So many people experience traumatic events as children and as adults, that they diminish and then bypass the right to heal because they compare it to others pain.
Each and every experience changes us in some way, some of these experiences build us up, and some of them tear us down. Either way, they inform who we are, how we feel about ourselves and what action we take.
I have been studying the impact of small t trauma on small business owners and entrepreneurs and how they show up in their business. I can tell you that almost all of the people I have interviewed had traumatic events in their childhood that they had overlooked and minimized until they could not ignore them anymore.
Trauma triggers are funny things and they can be caused by the leader of your country, a new boss that gets hired, and yes even a new employee you hire or client you contract with. It is so important for us as leaders to do their work and excavate the potential patterns their own trauma create and how it impacts those around them. By the way, this is where I remind you that YOU are a leader.
Chelsea wisely said, “Before you can be of use to other people you need to clean up your own injuries” I would go a step further and say before you can be of use to others without it being to the detriment of yourself, you must clean up your own wounds so they don’t get reinjured.
I look forward to reading her book, I am sure it will be raucous and self-deprecating with just a little bit more self-love than we have seen from her in the past. You can learn more about her here.
Nicole Lewis-Keeber MSW LCSW is a Speaker, Business Therapist and Mindset Coach for small business owners and entrepreneurs. If you are curious about how small t trauma could be impacting the health and wealth of your business you can reach out to Nicole to schedule a chat here.