This week we're discussing how trauma can be thought of in different ways than what it is normally defined. Someone can experience a traumatic situation in a non-traditional way and not realize they are having a "trauma reaction". Yesterday Teri discussed how abuse can create trauma reactions. Today we're going to talk about Teasing.
We are all going to experience teasing at some point in our lives. However, teasing for some individuals becomes relentless, humiliating and cruel. Whether it is done by family members, school mates, other adults, friends or bullies, the results can be traumatizing and leave lasting results.
When someone is teased, this creates shame which is that feeling inside of being "not good enough" or inadequate. Slowly a person begins to compare themselves to others, wants to hide their flaws for fear of further judgement, worries what others think, cannot take criticism, and is uncomfortable when others are angry with them.
How can teasing in childhood play out in the here-and-now?
Let's say someone was teased for their weight growing up. As an adult they've maintained a healthy weight for their height. When someone comments/compliments an outfit they are wearing, or they catch someone staring too long (or what they interpret as staring), inside they may question if the other person is trying to point out that they could lose some weight or don't look good physically. It may be hard for them to accept compliments and jump to negative conclusions if they believe someone is looking at them.
Or, let's say someone was teased for their family's religious preferences. Later in life this can lead into arguments with others who question their faith or religious practices. It may be easy to become defensive without being able to be open in such conversations.
In the here-and-now shame will interfere in communication with others. Because of teasing, a person will be likely to over-personalize things and be very sensitive to criticism or perceived criticism. The key is to pay attention to the things that really get you upset and heated in the current moment. There may be a reason that is more deeply rooted and can possibly be related to a trauma you experienced earlier in life. If you have experienced alot of teasing, or have identified alot with shame, below are some resources that may be helpful. Thanks for reading!
Letting Go of Shame by Patricia Potter-Efron & Ronald Potter-Efron; Guilt is the Teacher, Love is the Lesson by Joan Borysenko; Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw.
Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.