“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.”
~ Bessel A. van der Kolk
The trauma egg exercise was developed as a tool for processing emotional trauma by psychotherapist Marilyn Murray. This exercise, done slowly and gently, can support you to build awareness and compassion for your adverse life experiences. It can also show you how your traumatic experiences can skew, diminish or distract you from your true life "mission" or purpose.
Materials: One large sheet of paper, pens and crayons Considerations: You may want to take this exercise in stages. Take breaks as often as you need. Choose small-t trauma and Big-T Trauma that still hold an emotional charge. If a past adverse event feels neutral, you do not need to include it in your trauma egg. Even the smallest events can be included if you still feel some emotional pain. Exercise
Draw an Egg: Draw a big oval egg on a large sheet of paper.
Reflect on Your Father: In the bottom left corner, write "Father" and list words to describe your Dad - both positive and negative.
Reflect on Your Mother: In the bottom right corner, write "Mother" and list words to describe your Mom - both positive and negative.
Reflect on Your Family Rules: In the top left corner write down your Family Rules - spoken or unspoken - such as be good, life is hard, fit in, make money etc.
Reflect on Your Role in Your Family: In the top right corner write down your Family Roles - for example, problem child, family clown, good daughter, scapegoat etc.
Write Down or Draw Your Traumas: Inside the trauma egg, beginning with your birth, "grow yourself up" by writing down or drawing symbols of your adverse life experiences from the earliest age you can remember onward up the egg chronologically. Draw a bubble for 5–10 events in your life that were most painful or difficult. Consider event that hold profound disappointment, betrayal, anxiety or abuse.
Consider Your Trauma Influenced Misssion: Adverse life events engender limited beliefs. At the top of the egg write down your "Mission" as it was influenced by trauma - starting with, "Life is...people are...I am...therefore I will..."
Look for Major Themes: Look for common themes in your adverse experiences - for example, neglect, abandonment, high expectations, despair and so on.
Revision your Mission. If you could go through your life again without experiencing your traumas and adverse experiences, what would your mission be? Rewrite your life mission in a way that inspires you.
You can download the worksheet below.