When our body and mind are overwhelmed with too much stimulation, too much external distress or something that comes into our lives before we’re prepared for it, before our system is ready for it, this creates trauma.
Dr Albert Wong says Trauma is not something that exists in the event itself. A single event is not inherently traumatic. Trauma emerges as a result of the way in which our body and nervous system respond to the external stimulus.
From this we can understand that trauma is almost a common experience for everyone to have at least once in their lives.
However for those who have did not receive proper care and nurture during their upbringing are often hard wired to form unhealthy attachment styles, association to love, conflict, connection, intimacy and overall just have a challenging time functioning in the world.
Many survivors of childhood trauma find themselves in relationships that perpetuate the cycle of pain and reinforce a climate of low self-worth. Often, bad behaviors and even abuse are normalized, because no healthy foundation was ever modeled. Even though inside there is a dire need to finally have those intimate internal needs be met in healthy loving ways.
Trauma is likely to be shaping our adult experience if as a child:
· We were neglected
· We were abandoned
· One or both of our parents engaged in unhealthy conflict
· One or both of our parents had an addiction of some sort
· One or both of our parents were abusive – physically, verbally, emotionally
· We watched one of our parents lie and cheat repeatedly without any real consequence
· Our boundaries were violated or ignored
· We weren’t heard or respected
· We had a parent with unresolved childhood trauma, anger issues, depression
· A parent was chronically ill or died when we were young
· We were bullied and isolated
‘The body remembers what the mind forgets.’ - Jacob Marino
According to early somatic pioneers, Wilheim Reich and Alexander Lowen, the experience of bodily overwhelm results in a disruption in psychosomatic unity. Meaning that the body and mind actually split apart during a traumatic experience! The body goes one way and our thoughts, mind and feelings go another, from there a breach in the body mind connection takes place. Have you ever just felt incredibly anxious or fearful yet nothing physically has taken place? - Bodily sensations without a connected sense of meaning or understanding to the mind! Your nervous system is trained to navigate and prevent the same trauma. Even if a traumatic experience is not currently occurring, our body and nervous system will tell our mind that we are.. This is where different healing resources are so important to apply for your healing journey.
1. Becoming more aware
The first step to improving anything is becoming more aware of what is currently happening within us, how we feel, how we react. And in particular with trauma it’s becoming more aware of those uncomfortable bodily sensations. Most commonly trauma presents as fear, anxiety, depression and often we’re so use ‘managing’ or rather numbing these bodily sensations that we can’t identify the feeling or emotion that is arising within us.
2. Survival Resources
Once we start to become more aware of our inner world we can start building on our resources. The first resource is a survival resource which is likely something you’re already doing. It means something that you do to get by, to cope, to survive. Particularly for those that are currently in a traumatic situation and you’re being triggered on a daily basis this will be very prominent for you.
It’s really anything that helps us to escape our reality, escaping into a different world either through reading, spirituality, artistic pursuits, some people even become hyper vigilant and gain the skill of tracking people, scanning their environment for a threat. Numbing out, addiction to substances, dedication to sports, relying on things, not people - people are too scary or threatening, becoming a people pleaser, shopping addiction, acquiring things, surrounding themselves with people they can control. Take some time to really introspect and be very honest with yourself about your survival resource.
3. Creative Resources
Establishing your coping mechanism for your trauma is really important as it helps us to see how far we’ve come from this survival resource but it’s likely that it is also something that is keeping you stuck or stagnant in other areas of your life. Like having a fulfilling relationship, constantly needing something to make you feel better about yourself. If we don’t start facing the pain inside we can’t actually heal as we’re just getting by. Building on your creative resources ultimately helps you to feel free inside, feeling your flow, your joy, your exuberance, your play, your connectedness, your purpose in life again. A surge of internal energy that makes you feel alive, you’re no longer just surviving. A creative resource can be a simple as taking a walk, cleaning the house, writing your feelings, playing music. As you’re reading this something may already spring to your mind that you love to do, you just need to make more time for it…
4. Somatic Resources
The use of somatic resources are just so important and powerful resources for anyone experiencing trauma. A somatic resource ultimately helps to bring you back into your body (out of fight or flight mode) and fully feeling safe in your body. We can do this for ourselves offering empathy, talking lovingly and in a soft way to ourselves. Giving ourselves a hug, laying on the floor or swaddling yourself into a blanket, curling up into a ball, placing your hand on your heart or on your belly. If it’s possible and safe, creating a relationship even if only professionally to begin with where you can feel completely understood and accepted just as you are - a true healing gift for yourself. This can also come in the form of a massage, energy healing, dancing.
When the body and mind split during trauma, there are fractured or separated parts of ourselves that can only come back into wholeness and out of isolation when we feel heard and loved just as we are.
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