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Trauma and Entrepreneurship

I think that we can all agree: Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart!

During this journey, you will be tested, vetted, opened, examined, probed, questioned, judged, criticized, shredded, elevated, and developed in ways you cannot plan for. The highs will be high, and the lows, well, will be low. You’ll experience heartbreaks, mountaintops, heartaches, valleys, joy, pain, pleasure, and suffering. What we often don’t consider when starting these entrepreneurial journeys are, “What kinds of painful experiences from my past will be triggered during this process? What parts of me will I need to heal as I build this business?

I propose a look at the relationship between trauma and entrepreneurship to help you identify areas where you may get stuck in your journey. I want you to read through this post when you have a few unhurried minutes. And then reflect on this post as you go about running your business.

Scripture wisely tells us to count the costs before we build (Luke 14:28). When you reflect back on the beginnings of your businesses, can you pinpoint the time in which you thought about the cost of this journey? Can you identify a time when you thought about what it would cost you to build your business? Well, if not, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s get into it…

What is Trauma?

Trauma is your emotional reaction to an event or to a series of events. That is, your ability or inability to cope with events you’ve experienced. When we understand trauma in this way, we have a better understanding of why two people can live in the same home and experience the same upbringing but remember the experiences in completely different ways. The event can be painful and/or cause a lot of damage, but it is our emotional reactions to the events that shape our responses and our future experiences.

Entrepreneurship Defined

For the purposes of this post, entrepreneurship is based on the standard definition which defines entrepreneurship as setting up, and managing, an enterprise while taking on the financial risk, with the hopes of returning a profit. Whatever the kind of business you are considering developing, whatever the path forward, just dipping your toes in the entrepreneurial stream sets you a on a new path that will transform your life forever.


How Trauma Impacts Entrepreneurship

I’m going to share a personal story here.

I’ve done a lot of work on this particular thing over the last few months in my own life but I know there’ll always be more work to be done as I arrive at new levels in my life.

I launched my private practice in NJ exactly 1 year ago to this month. As I’ve been working on building my private practice, I’ve noticed more and more that the theme of scarcity and lack kept coming up for me. I began to take notice of it and began addressing the issue head on. As I was nearing a lot of software and systems 1 year renewals for my practice which meant paying for a lot of expenses at once while still trying to stabilize income in my business so, I began to experience more of these scarcity thoughts.

I am born and raised in Jamaica. And so consequently, I began to notice that my chest would start tightening up at times when it was time to balance my accounts, time to go through my books, and time to review my expected income for the next month. I’d start to hear my mother’s and father’s voices in my head. I’d hear statements they’d say to me whenever I would ask for money to hang out with my friends as a teen.

My mother would constantly remind of the need to save and never spend any money. Meanwhile, my father would tell me…”Money nuh grow pon tree,” and “Mi bruk, mi nuh have nuh money fi dat.” These were constant statements that my father would say to me, no matter how big or small my requests were.

And while these were childhood messages, they simmered below the surface and became internalized as part of my psyche. They became subconscious thoughts that enforced themselves in my behaviors and my thought patterns because I internalized these messages early on that money was scarce, inaccessible, and that it is frivolous to spend money on things not deemed as necessities.

These are damaging beliefs to have surrounding money as it causes one to develop a poor relationship with money. And these are self-defeating beliefs that causes one to count themselves out while trying to create something out of nothing.

So, as I said earlier, I have been working through this trauma for the last few months, and will continue to do this work in, and for myself, as I continue to build this business.

But what about you?

What kinds of traumatic experiences have you had in your childhood and early adulthood?

What kinds of messages have you been receiving in your life? Messages that may have reinforced themes of:

·         Loss

·         Lack

·         Scarcity

·         Irresponsibility

·         Abandonment

·         Rejection

·         Dependency

·         Defeat

·         Struggle

·         Exhaustion

·         Overwork


Who has influenced you in your life?

  1. I ask you, whose voice do you hear talking down to you?

  2. What lessons have you internalized that have taught you that you can only rise to a certain level?

  3. What kinds of messages have you received that told you that because you’re successful in your business or enterprise means that you can’t find a suitable life partner?

  4. What messages have you been given that tells you that you’re not good enough to write that book?

  5. To grow that business?

  6. To make a certain income level?

Whatever your answer, I hope you make a plan to address the answers you came up with!


Examples of traumas

While I’ve shared a personal struggle that I’m working through in my business, I’m encouraging you to explore and reflect on your own experiences to identify areas that may be trigger points for you.

To help you do this, I am including some examples of traumas so that it’s easier for you to understand and see yourself in similar situations.

1.    Abuse (verbal, physical, emotional, neglect, sexual)

2.    Violence (witnessing a crime, gun violence, domestic, school, workplace, etc)

3.    Natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, etc)

4.    Chronic and/or serious illness (diabetes, cancer, etc)

5.    Religious persecution

6.    Immigration

7.    Displacement

8.    Car accident or unpredictable event

9.    Living in fear or threat of harm

10. Contentious divorce or severe disruption of daily life

11. Loss

12. Financial experiences and losses


How to Cope with Trauma and Entrepreneurship


The journey of entrepreneurship can be a beautiful experience. The truth is that entrepreneurship can be defined and redefined as many times as is needed. You are allowed to pivot whenever you make a new decision. There is no right way or wrong way to do entrepreneurship.

We must recognize that life is cyclical. Life is everchanging. What works in one season won’t necessarily work in the next season. Also, your assignment in one season is not necessarily your assignment for the next season. The journey of entrepreneurship is more about learning to steward what God has given you. It’s about building a partnership with God while He uses the tool of entrepreneurship to develop your faith and transform your character to be more Christlike.

Along the way, He heals you, whether directly or indirectly.

Something that we may not consider is that unhealed traumas, unhealed wounds directly impact the ways in which we show up in our personal lives and in our businesses. These wounds overwhelm our coping skills, causes us to be more reactive, and decreases our self-esteem and self-confidence.

Hence, as entrepreneurs, we need to be willing to build a community of resources to help us heal and steward well. We need tools and resources to help us steward our personal and business lives well. And, we can help ourselves work through our traumas by increasing our awareness of, and by building, healthy coping strategies into our lives.

Examples of these healthy coping strategies include:

·         Consistent movement of our bodies

·         Creating and maintaining healthy friendships

·         Eating balanced meals

·         Developing hobbies that bring rejuvenation

·         Maintaining spiritual practices, including devotional times, consistent prayer times, reading the Bible, fasting, etc

·         Creating white spaces (blank spaces) in our calendars

·         Scheduling in experiences that keep us feel excited and motivated, like our next day trip, spa day, brunching event, 4-day getaway, vacations, etc.

In Closing

In addition to the above coping skills, consider going to speak with mental health professionals who are trained to help you process and heal from your traumas. Remember that things that are left untreated do not go away, they only slide below the surface where they fester and unconsciously control our actions.

I pray that you found value in this post to help you get to the next level in your businesses.

_________________________________________________________________________________About the Author:

Charmaine Perry is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of NJ and the owner of Prolific Life Wellness & Counseling. Charmaine teaches healthy coping skills for trauma and life transitions in her private practice. Charmaine also writes about faith and mental health. Connect with Charmaine @ Prolific Life and at



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