Life is wounding. For some of us our wounds are inflicted in the form of major traumas such as a serious injury, painful divorce, career failure or act of abuse or violence. More often, however, we are merely called on to suffer the slings and arrows of everyday life, which can also leave their mark.

Contemporary psychology has revealed two major insights into trauma. One is that trauma is pervasive: two-thirds of Americans report experiencing a major trauma in their lives. The other is that trauma is toxic, often kicking off lifetime patterns of depression, anxiety and addiction. One study showed that people who suffer six or more of ten categories of adverse events lived on average twenty years less that people who had experienced none of those categories of adverse events

Whether large or little, some trauma is inevitable and necessary for healthy development. Shocks and setbacks shape who we are and can provide the opportunity to develop resilience and a larger perspective.

Yet we tend to feel ashamed of our wounds and naturally shrink away from them. We clench around our pain physically and/or mentally, and deny it so it can’t hurt us anymore. In some cases we may do the opposite, by indulging our pain, using it to control other people, or by playing the victim of our own life.

In this two-part podcast Transforming Trauma Into Power, integral psychotherapist Dr. Keith Witt explores what we now know about trauma and how it affects us. He also charts an empowering course forward, so that we can metabolize the traumas of our life in a way that liberates us from their grip and reveals exciting new territories of our ongoing development.