I was recently discussing a trend with a colleague regarding people and organizations who declare themselves Trauma-Informed, sometimes only as a result of attending a workshop here or there. In our opinion, to be truly trauma-informed requires a great deal more study than that.
I think this can lead us to a discussion around a continuum that on one end has people being what we can call “trauma humble” versus being further on the other end, or “trauma arrogant.”
I think of renowned experts on trauma like Dr. Bruce Perry and Dr. Sandy Bloom who fall more on the trauma humble end, learning through all their work that what we know now about the brain and about trauma is minuscule in comparison to what needs to be learned. If we are lifelong learners of trauma, we need to remain open to that learning. If we remain humble in regard to what we know and what we do not know as well as what the experts know and do not know, we actually are being more accurate in our thinking and speaking.
Humility does not mean we lose our confidence about what is known so far and how it can help us better understand the nature of trauma and the needs of those impacted by it. It’s an interesting blend of both being humble and confident while avoiding being arrogant.
Sometimes people state their opinions as if they were facts. Often when this happens there is an air of arrogance about those opinions because the person assumes they are facts and can state them with great authority. However, when we state our opinions as opinions, it can leave room for others to have different opinions which can then lead to some excellent conversations that invite personal growth.
How might a person know they are more on the humble end of the continuum than the arrogant end? Much of it has to do with the projected attitude. A humble person appears open to the input of others, often seeking their thoughts and perspectives. Internally that person is aware that there may be many things they do not yet know or understand. They also are curious to hear what others want to say and are open to their thoughts as well as any new information that might be shared by those who are researchers and scientists.
Invitation for Reflection
- Where do you fall on the continuum of how humble versus how arrogant you believe yourself to be? What leads you to this conclusion?
- If you need to become more humble, what are some things you can do?
- How might you respond internally as well as externally when someone projects a more arrogant attitude around you?
Diane Wagenhals, Director, Lakeside Global Institute