Overcoming Trauma – Part Three

traumatized child

In the first two editions of this blog, we looked at the outer effects of trauma and then viewed trauma from a more pragmatic and sensible way, the way the field of science may report on it.  In this edition we will look more closely as some ways to work psychologically within our own selves to aid us in finding other measures which support the healing process of Trauma.

 

Remember, the focus of this blog is to understand how we as adults can provide the most trauma-less and more love-filled environment and lifestyle for our children.

 

The research goes on to state that “youth who have experienced trauma may be more likely to be involved in illegal behavior for a variety of reasons, including the neurological, psychological and social effects of trauma.”

 

Our brain structures that are responsible for regulating emotion, memory and behavior are developed in our earliest years, and are very sensitive to the actions and imprints of those around us and the events that we are exposed to.

 

One of the reasons I am choosing to write about trauma today is I feel compelled to bring some light to an area of life that I that have recently experienced, with someone very near and dear to me.  I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those around me and become aware of areas where I may be adding stress in someone’s life, or where I am having unwanted stress added to my life unconsciously.

I ran across a book by Bob Murray, PhD and Alicia Fortinberry, MS, Creating Optimism, and in it they offer 8 things we can do today to create happiness and optimism.  Having an optimistic mind will greatly benefit us as we move through releasing the effects of trauma in our lives.  Here they are:

 

  1. Connection to Others “…at the very heart of your being.”
  2. Autonomy “…a feeling of independence and a sense of being in control…”
  3. Self-Esteem “…a function of how you perceive others view you…”
  4. Competence  “…relates to how effective you feel you are.”
  5. Purpose  “…fulfillment and meaning throughout your life.”
  6. Connection to your body  “…vital to our complete sense of self…”
  7. Connection to Nature  “…it’s permanence, its beauty and power…”
  8. Spirituality  “…a powerful weapon against depression…”

 

These eight things listed above also equate to the origins of trauma.  When we read that we may not have had any of these, or a very limited experience with each of them, we can begin to discover that we may have unwittingly been traumatized in some way.

 

I remember as a child moving often.  Every time I would get to know some kids at school and begin to develop friendships, we would relocate to another city.  At the time, I thought that it was normal for everyone’s parents to change jobs and move from city to city, and home to home every year or so.  But later, what I discovered is that I too, began to do the same thing when I got older.  It wasn’t until I began to work through some of my own stuff that I became aware of where some of these patterns were introduced to me.  And it began to make sense to me how my life got to be the way it was and why I did the things I did.  I have witnessed the cyclical patterns continually return building themes in my life.

 

I doubt any of us can avoid trauma in our lives, simply because we have feelings and attachments to things and people, but we can learn to move through these traumatic times more consciously.

 

First, there is a period of discovery that must take place.  This discovery simply reveals the patterns we have been experiencing throughout our lives.  An easy way to discern what one of these patterns may be is to ask yourself:  “What themes keep recurring in my life?”

 

A theme can be any experience or groups of experiences that all have the same idea invoked within the experiences.  For instance, “Nobody loves me.” “I never seem to make enough money to do the things and have the things I want.”  “Every time I get something nice someone always ruins it.”

 

It’s not hard to find common themes in our life, but this is only the beginning.  It’s not so much the theme as it is the feeling that lies within the theme that becomes more revealing.  We might ask ourselves, “What feeling always comes forward when I am experiencing one of these themes?”  It’s really important to catch the feeling.  And the reason is due to the idea the feeling creates is what generates our next experience of life.

 

The Universal Presence or better known as the Law of Mind, produces a corresponding event in our life based upon the idea that is contained within the feeling.  It says in the Bible that “out of the void were all things created.”  The void is another word for idea.  There is nothing tangible in an idea.  It’s just an idea!  But what comes of that is a feeling, and as soon as feeling is interpreted, an effect is instantly manifested.  It takes form!

 

What happens through trauma are cycles of feeling/idea/feeling/idea.  And hence, the disease, discontent, disruption and destruction of all that we once knew begins or starts over.  When our ideas are filled with emotional reactions based upon our subjective tendencies (patterns) what we experience is very traumatic.

 

So how do we correct that?  How do we get out of these cycles?  We have to put something new in!  Something that doesn’t have any ties to previous experience.

 

The Science of Mind has lots of great tools to put something new in, however, trying to get a previously programmed mind (yes I said programmed!) to accept something new is tricky.  And this is where that something that we call practice is required.  We have to practice!

 

When we learn how to practice, what we discover is that we begin to erode the patterns that habitually recur, and something new begins to happen in our lives.  There are many forms of practice, but the practices I am promoting are Spiritual Practices.  The most common methods are meditation, prayer, study, service, and visioning.  To learn more about these seek out a Minister or Practitioner of your choosing.  Every faith tradition has these practices so you won’t have to look too far.

 

You can bet that in the beginning stages of practice, everything that is argumentative will show up to combat the new that is being input into the mind.  This is normal!  Don’t let that stop you!  Your mind won’t argue with you if you tell it to cooperate with you.  It just wants to know that you mean business!  Don’t argue with it.  Just keep trudging forward in your new statements of truth (affirmations) and don’t give in.  You will see a change…I promise you!

 

After your mind has begun to take the new information and process it, you must guide it to the most desired result.  It will not go of its own accord.  For us to have dominion over our affairs we must take dominion over our own minds!  You might even thank your mind for sharing when it begins to tell you how foolish you are for even thinking you could do something to bring about a change for good in your life.

 

The hardest part to trauma is being willing to step across the threshold of fear that trauma holds in place.  See this threshold as a means to achieve freedom.  Know that until you face your fears trauma will continue to cycle back.  It has to!  Gradually as you uncover more and more of the accusations you have held toward things and people and events, you will open up a way for new experiences to be exciting and vitalizing.  But I must warn you…the second you snap back into an old pattern the trauma that went with it is multiplied!

 

So there seems to be a price to pay for this.  Though the freedom comes easy it comes with a price.

 

To be free of trauma simply means that we are free of ideas and emotions that enhance themselves rather than raising our own interior awareness of our own dominion.  We want to take dominion over our minds, because this gives us dominion over our lives.  To change the way we think and what we think about most often, changes the experience of life that we have!

 

I practice the Science of Mind because I am heavily invested in my own life and how my life impacts others.  It has brought me to being conscious of others and how I show up in the world.  It has changed my perspective on how I can effect change in my own life and become a positive influence to my children and grandchildren.  It has given me the way to think positively about my life and all the experiences that I have and have had, so that the recurring patterns (traumas) diminish and eventually fade into the nothingness from whence they appeared.

 

None of us need to be hurt.  None of us need to be traumatized by themes in our lives or events that occur in our lives, but each of us has to choose for the greater life.

 

Ernest Holmes says, “We must put down the lesser to grab hold of the greater.”

 

Following are some of the basic understanding and facts known about trauma:

 

Experiencing trauma in childhood can have a severe and long-lasting effect. Children who have been traumatized see the world as a frightening and dangerous place. When childhood trauma is not resolved, this fundamental sense of fear and helplessness carries over into adulthood, setting the stage for further trauma.

 

Following a traumatic event, or repeated trauma, people react in different ways, experiencing a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think, feel, or respond to trauma, so don’t judge your own reactions or those of other people. Your responses are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events.

 

In order to heal from psychological and emotional trauma, you must face and resolve the unbearable feelings and memories you’ve long avoided. Otherwise they will return again and again, unbidden and uncontrollable.

 

Trauma treatment and healing involves:

 

  • Processing trauma-related memories and feelings
  • Discharging pent-up “fight-or-flight” energy
  • Learning how to regulate strong emotions
  • Building or rebuilding the ability to trust other people

 

Trauma disrupts the body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyperarousal and fear. In essence, your nervous system gets stuck in overdrive. Successful trauma treatment must address this imbalance and reestablish your physical sense of safety.

 

Recovering from emotional and psychological trauma takes time.

 

  • Give yourself time to heal and to mourn the losses you’ve experienced.
  • Don’t try to force the healing process. Be patient with the pace of recovery.
  • Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling without judgment or guilt.

 

Following a trauma, you may want to withdraw from others, but isolation makes things worse. Connecting to others will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.

 

  • Ask for support. It’s important to talk about your feelings and ask for the help you need.
  • Seek the assistance of a Minister or Practitioner.
  • Participate in social activities, even if you don’t feel like it. Do “normal” things with other people, things that have nothing to do with the traumatic experience. If you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect.
  • Volunteer. As well as helping others, volunteering can be a great way to challenge the sense of helplessness that often accompanies trauma.
  • Remind yourself of your strengths and reclaim your sense of power by comforting or helping others.

 

Chances are that whoever you are, you or someone you know has been affected by trauma. To put it simply, the scary, painful and yucky stuff that happens is what trauma is made of. Often, people believe that trauma always pertains to war. Though war is definitely traumatic, there are other events that can have the same effect on us.  Verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, being the victim of or witnessing a violent crime, responding to a horrific emergency call, natural disasters, and car accidents are some examples of traumatic events. We all know the stories. Those of people we know– they may be family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, clients, movie stars, musicians, athletes, and people on the evening news. Some of us know the stories all too well, because those stories are our own.

 

Different people respond to trauma in different ways: anxiety, depression, mood swings, self-destructive behavior, flashbacks, numbness and phobias are a few examples.  If you have experienced any of these, you have experienced trauma in your life.

 

One way to determine whether an emotional or psychological trauma has occurred, perhaps even early in life before language or conscious awareness were in place, is to look at the kinds of recurring problems one might be experiencing. These can serve as clues to an earlier situation that caused a dysregulation in the structure or function of the brain.

 

The impact from experiencing a traumatic event can be pervasive and destructive to individual lives, families, communities and nations.

 

The cost of unresolved trauma to society is incalculable. Trauma has been correlated to physical and mental illness; learning disabilities; addictions; deviant or aggressive behavior; polarization of belief systems; racial, ethnic and religious intolerance and violence in individuals, in schools and communities, between groups and between nations.

 

Furthermore, traumatic reenactment or repetition is one of the most dangerous and daunting aspects of trauma. It creates a downward spiral of traumatic symptoms, gaining a life of its own called metaphorically “the trauma vortex“. When their trauma is not healed, people will likely continue to repeat or reenact their traumatic experience in some way or another. The “trauma vortex” has a magnetic pull and is contagious.

 

Excerpts within this article were printed  from the National Trauma Institute, www.upliftprogram.com, Healing Invisible Wounds from the Justice Policy Institute.

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