Traumatic experiences can haunt us for what seems an eternity. They linger in the backs of our minds or play a prominent part of our everyday activities. It can cast a shadow over all the things we do, and make the world we live in very different to the world many others experience.
Having experienced trauma myself, I tried every possible conventional therapy and technique but nothing seemed to help. That is when I turned to the unconventional methods and found Bessel Van Der Kolk a professor of psychiatry. Bessel has worked with people who suffer from trauma for more than 40 years.
To help you in your journey, I thought I would share the eight key lessons I learnt from his work that helped me overcome my trauma symptoms.
1. Mind your thinking
Being able to calm your thinking, to focus your mind on the present moment, is a powerful skill during times of remembered trauma.
2. The world is not what it seems
Your body sees the world as a more frightening and dangerous place than it often actually is following a traumatic experience. It is important to keep things in perspective.
3. Switching to survival mode
Remembered trauma can pause the areas of the brain that control emotions, problems solving, judgement and language, and ignite the areas of the brain that focuses on our survival. Self-regulation, calming your brain down, and helping your brain to be focused in the present is critical.
4. Can’t stop repeated trauma
A constant feeling of being in danger can lead to real danger being unrecognisable, and repeated traumatic experiences for a person. Again it is important to try to calm your system down so your mind can start to differentiate between good and dangerous situations, and what feelings you want to avoid and what feelings you don’t.
5. Common trauma response
Feeling helpless and unable to move are common experiences in situations that cause trauma, and can be experienced again when the trauma is remembered.
6. Watch yourself
Being very aware of yourself and examining yourself is critical to overcoming your trauma.
7. Never underestimate the power of meditation
Any activity that makes you aware of yourself like yoga or martial arts can help you to become more present, a key component of overcoming trauma. In Bessel’s own words, “The key brain area that is necessary to be online to get over your trauma is your capacity to observe yourself and to notice yourself.”
8. Not all treatments are successful
Therapies that involve speaking about traumatic experiences and the prescription of drugs to overcome trauma, are not entirely successful.
To find out more about overcoming trauma, contact us now.