Developmental Trauma: A Gift or a Curse?

gift or curseChildhood adversities involving developmental trauma can become personal game-changers. They can set you on a transformational journey that shifts you from being a broken, unworthy Victim and into a conscious, grateful Victor. It’s up to you to make meaning of these experiences, and to write your own story about them.

You are the person who decides if childhood adversity was a good thing for a bad thing. Perhaps you’ve heard the Chinese farmer’s tale about adversity.

There is a Chinese story of an old farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and, when all the farmer’s neighbors’ sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, ‘Curse? Gift? Who knows?’

A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, ‘Curse? Gift? Who knows?’

Then, when the farmer’s son attempted to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, ‘Curse?’ Gift? Who knows?’

Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg they let him off.’ Now was that a gift? A curse? Who knows?’

A moral of this Chinese farmer’s story is that life is complex. It’s impossible to know in the moment whether an event or experience is a gift or curse, whether the long-term consequences will be good fortune or misfortune.

The farmer’s story about adversity can be told from either Victim perspective or the Victor perspective, and so can yours. If you focus on what you learned from your childhood traumas and adversity and tell your story from a Victor perspective, you take on a Victor identity. If you didn’t learn anything from your childhood traumas and adversity and tell your story from a Victim perspective, you take on a Victim identity. You, only you, create the framework for making meaning of your developmental trauma. It can be a gift or a curse—it’s up to you.

Victim Self-Inventory:

On a scale of 1 to 4, please indicate how true these beliefs are for you.
Key: 1 = Hardly Ever; 2 = Sometimes; 3 = Frequently; 4 = Almost Always.

__  1. It is my fault when someone gets angry with me.
__  2. Other people’s feelings/needs are more important than mine.
__  3. People will think I am aggressive if I express my feelings and needs directly.
__  4. I worry about how others may respond when I state my feelings or needs.
__  5. I have to walk on eggs so I don’t do something that causes people to get angry with me    or abandon me.
__  6. I have to give up my needs in my relationships so people will want to be with me.
__  7. I must be perfect so that others will love me and not abandon me.
__  8. I need to rely on others to make important decisions.
__  9. I must hold back when reacting to what others say and do, rather than saying what I
I believe.
__  10. How I feel about myself depends on other people’s opinions of me.
__  11. It’s dangerous for me to ask directly for what I want or need from others.
__  12. I avoid assuming a position of responsibility.
__ 13. When faced with a problem, I can only think of two conflicting solution to it.
__ 14. I need to meet other people’s needs so they will like me and want to be with me.
__  15. It’s best to be in relationships where I can meet the needs of others and make them
__  16. If I have to ask loved ones for what I want or need, they don’t love me enough to know
what I need.
__  17. I have a difficult time knowing what I want or need.
__  18. I can’t let others get too close to me, or my life will be consumed by their needs.
__  19. I have difficulty in knowing how I really feel.
__  20. I exaggerate my accomplishments when I meet someone new, so they will like me.
__  21. If people knew who I really am, they would not want to be with me.
__  22. I’m afraid people will find out that I’m not who they think I am.
__  23. I can’t ask other people for help when I need it because they will think I am too needy.
__  24. I feel controlled by what others expect of me.
__  25. I feel it is really important for me to have the “right answers” or others will think I’m
__  26. I can’t admit to a mistake because I am afraid people might reject me if I did.
__  27. I reject offers of help from others, even when I need them.
__  28. I compare myself to others to see if I’m either one-up or one-down in relation to them.
__  29. I feel hurt when others don’t recognize my accomplishments.
__  30. I don’t deserve to be loved by others.

___ Total Score

Interpretation of Scores:
30-50 = Few beliefs that contribute to the Drama Triangle in your life.
51-80 = Some beliefs that contribute to the Drama Triangle in your life.
81+ = Many beliefs that contribute to the Drama Triangle in your life.

Note: The items you answered as “3 or 4” have the most control over you.

More About Victims and Victim Consciousness

DramaTriangle CoverThe Victim role is one of three in a social dynamics known as the Drama Triangle, which is caused by unresolved developmental trauma. This book will help you learn more about the Drama Triangle and Victim Consciousness and how to change your game from Victim to Victor. Go here, here and here to read more about Victim Consciousness, and here to purchase the book at Amazon.







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