Keywords: Trauma Healing.
I am often at a bit of a loss when I am asked HOW to go about resolving Post-Traumatic Stress, more so when I have just explained at length the mechanism of dissociation and trauma; invariably, someone will ask "but how do you get rid of x,y,z?"
That very question itself negates everything I said prior to that question.
Learning, Time, and Psychological Time
Let me explain: When you study a language, you set aside time to learn the different words, the grammar, the pronunciation. With time and practice, you start to make progress and get better at it. There is a movement in time from A, not knowing the language, to B, knowing the language a bit more.
We carry that principle of overcoming over to our psychological issues, thinking that the same methodology can apply, but it can’t.
Anxiety and the Process of Overcoming
When you are anxious and that anxiety overwhelms you, you will try either to avoid or to overcome that state. Consciously or unconsciously, there is an internal voice that says "how can I not feel anxious?"
The very "how to" here is dissociative from what is—you being anxious. When you feel continuously dissociated, that is a protective response, but it also keeps you from meeting the anxiousness and working through it.
The "how to" in this context is a state of inattention, and through the act of attempting to overcome, you are actually perpetuating the very emotional state you are trying to resolve.
When you feel continuously dissociated, that is a protective response, but it also keeps you from meeting the anxiousness and working through it.
Let that sink in for a moment, because the subtlety of it might easily slip through the cracks.
Trauma Healing and The Stages of Dissociation
Let me come at it from another angle: You might have noticed that when your anxiety is too high for some time, that you will have a period where you move into feeling dissociated, numb, and disconnected from the anxiety.
With that, there might also come some fatigue, exhaustion, depression, and chronic pains or immune system issues. Those dissociated states are an outcome of anxiety. They are directly related.
If you are attentive, you can listen into the dissociated state and feel that just below it there is still the raging anxiety. That knowledge—that the dissociated states of depression, fatigue, numbness, and chronic pain are an outcome of anxiety—puts you back in the driver's seat.
Dissociation, Anxiety, and Suppressed Anger
If and when you can be in touch with your anxiety, your symptoms of dissociation will diminish.
Furthermore, anxiety in and of itself very often is a symptom of other unprocessed emotions.
When you weren't able to act, speak up, and be authentic to yourself in either a very intense moment or multiple experiences spread out over a period of time, that inaction compromised your boundaries, your sense of self, and self-worth.
Anxiety will be an outcome of that; a symptom.
As you explore and go deeper, you might see that anxiety isn't the core issue any more.
When you keep trying to overcome anxiety, it stays in place and, furthermore, creates secondary symptoms of depression, fatigue, chronic pains, and so forth and so on.
Inattention, Attention, and the “How To” in Healing from Trauma
When you start to be attentive, as opposed to dissociating, you start to be able to shift your attention through the various layers of emotional build up.
It is the very seeing—cognitively—and the very feeling through the emotional layers—somatically—that help you to start healing your Post-Traumatic Stress.
The "how-to" question, on a psychological level, then becomes obsolete and redundant.
How does your search for overcoming affect healing from trauma? Leave your comments below.