Bad Behavior or a Trauma Response? April 22, 2021

Bad Behavior or a Trauma Response

Do you know anyone who seems to make so many poor choices? Have you ever asked if it is truly bad behavior or a trauma response? When someone has experienced a loss, a show of grief is an expected response. When calls go unanswered or tempers are short as a result of grief, the uncouth behavior is often forgiven.


We know when people mourn they experience grief and typically go through some form of the “stages of grief”. The question becomes when one doesn’t have the tools or hasn’t dealt with their grief it can turn into poor decision making. Before you just assume that someone is a bad apple, maybe it would do us good to question why they are struggling.

Trauma Responses Can Look Like:


  • Craving control
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Seeking Constant escapism
  • Giving in to reckless impulses and not caring about personal safety
  • Saying “yes” because you are afraid of losing security
  • Agreeing to things just to keep the peace.


How do these trauma responses translate into the real world? 


Let’s take a few of these possible trauma responses and find a real world situation. Seeking constant escapism. 

This could be someone who uses drugs or alcohol or any other vise to avoid reality. Maybe it is someone who stares at their smartphone all day long keeping them from engaging in conversation and healthy relationships. It could also be someone who plays video games day and night. 


Let’s look at another one  Saying yes because you are afraid of losing security. This one could be as simple as a person taking on too much, allowing for people to take advantage of them. 

Real Life Trauma 

This may be taking a little creative license but imagine this scenario, think of a young girl who lives in a home where her parents are drug users. When she is 11 her father dies of an overdose. At age 12 her mother gets locked up in prison for 25 years and loses connection with her. The young girl’s grandmother becomes her guardian.


 At the age of 16 the young girl’s grandma is diagnosed with cancer and passes away shortly after her diagnosis. The girl finds companionship with her cousin who is also doing drugs. She feels as though she is all she has left as a result when she is offered drugs, her pain and her fear of losing her connection with her cousin makes her say yes. That yes can turn into a life of turmoil and bad decisions all a result of grief and trauma that was never dealt with. This is a trauma response.

The story of the young girls trauma response may seem extreme to some but it is reality for many. The amount of loss and trauma for such a young person or for any age can be a life changer. Without knowing her loss many would just look at her as a bad apple. 

It’s never too late to start healing.

If you have ever wondered why you struggle with decision making or know someone who seems to consistently find themselves in trouble. Think about why someone struggles. Maybe it is a trauma response. 


If you have never dealt with your grief appropriately seek out help. Find a counselor or therapist or a support group. You can heal from your trauma. 


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