Trauma is actually “Wired into your nervous system” it stays there imbedded in the tissues/muscle/fascia as a recorded unconscious memory until you find a way to UNLEARN it! Somatic Experiencing is what I have found to be one of the best methods to be able to Complete those responses so that they then go back into neutral and then we’re not driven by them. Have you ever been introduced to somebody and you immediately had a REACTION? It could be you felt an intense fear, anxiety, shame or even a strong affection that was deeply moving… it just Gripped you? It can be good or bad. Well that is called an “Implicit emotional memory” It is truly unconscious and resides deep within the nervous system.
This memory can hit you smack in the face, while you are trying to “hide your feelings quickly” and completely destroy you for a bit leaving a lot of pain in its wake. You FEEL it in waves rushing through your body and try and “push it away” as “silly/meaningful/confusing etc” Now, HOW and WHAT do you do with those feelings that have overcome you? Where are you when this happens? Work? Leading others? With your patient? Pulling a car over? Doing a loan? Teaching students?
According to Dr. Peter Levine, one of the worlds experts on trauma; here’s why this is so important. The mind is constantly building upon all our memories to create an internal sense of reality. That’s how we make meaning out of our experience or out of our lives. It’s the essence of not only how we see ourselves but how we see the world. When trauma enters the picture, this entire process can get corrupted. According to Dr. van der Kolk: In fact, trauma interferes with the construction of a new reality. If you get traumatized, you see that same thing over and over again. You hear the same thing over again. And you get pieces, fragments of the past that keep coming back. You may not know that these are fragments of the past and so you PROJECT them onto the person next to you. Could be your co-worker, your child, spouse or your own patients or clients.
A traumatic memory is fundamentally a breakdown of the ordinary memory system. what’s happening is you’re having the same sensations and emotions that you had at the time of the trauma. Therefore, you are having the trauma again because the nervous system and the body can’t tell the difference. THE TRAUMA NOW IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED! IT’S HOW IT SHOWS UP IN YOUR DAILY LIFE TODAY! HOW YOU MANIFEST IT, ACT IT OUT, YOUR PERSONALITY, YOUR QUICK TO ANGER, YOUR BYPASSING, YOUR POLYANNA ATTITUDE, YOUR FEELINGS OF INJUSTICE, VICTIM MODE OR HELPLESS STATE.. OR, IT COULD BE YOUR WORKAHOLISM, YOUR INDIFFERENCE, YOUR KEEPING PEOPLE AT A DISTANCE OR A HUGE EGO.
Dr. van der Kolk says that everyone thinks that what happens when you get traumatized is that the time-keeping part of your brain, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, shuts down so you’ll feel like this is forever. This is unbearable because there’s no end to it. Anything is bearable as long as you know that it’s going to come to an end. That’s the key. A person experiencing trauma, especially in a state of terror, loses that sense of timing – particularly the sense that this bad feeling is going to end.
According to Dr. Peter Levine, “If a person is in a dissociated state, you need to bring together the different sensations and feelings and images and behaviors and meanings, gradually. Again, if you do it too quickly, they’ll just dissociate again. The key is because the trauma is so close to what you’re experiencing in the present, there is no present. There is no now. There’s only the past playing over and over and over in the present time, but keeping that from becoming a now moment. So, again, we don’t want flashbacks. We want touching in. We want bringing one element of the experience together with another element, with the map which he calls SIBAM (Somatic Experiencing® (SE) theory is premised on the idea that trauma affects brain, mind and body. However, the body often is neglected in the psychotherapy of trauma. SE teaches that trauma is not caused by the event itself, but rather develops by the failure of the body, mind, spirit and nervous system to process extreme adverse events) so that you gradually start putting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together little by little. Each time you put a little piece together, there’s a release of that energy and then that energy can become assimilated. Then another piece, and another piece, and another piece. Piece by piece by piece. Slow always wins.” For more information and to keep learning, please CLICK HERE, it’s FREE
* You see, when we help our clients heal from trauma, it changes not only their lives, but the lives of their family, their friends and their community as well. I would say that when you help someone heal from trauma, you change the world.