• jess

Fix your Trauma Mindset, Step One - Get Mad

Updated: May 21, 2020

Motherfuckers keep asking me “How?”

How did I get control of my anxiety? How do I manage each day, despite having endlessly, chaotic bullshit to deal with? How have I transitioned from certified agoraphobe to hopping in the car and meeting strangers around a major city? How is my life so crazy now, and I’m doing better than ever?

(These questions are accompanied by skeptical looks and compassionate “ways out,” in case I’m actually not doing so well.)

Well, for one, I got pissed off.

Here’s the thing. I’m SO happy to answer these questions. I want to tell my story and share my tactics. I want to help you feel better, that’s why I’ve devoted hundreds of hours to Traumatized Motherfuckers so far…. But there’s not a ton I can do.

Generally, when I tell people the truth, they look overtly disappointed. They want some magic answer, maybe a specialist or a prescription drug. They do not care for my honest response “It’s a lot of work, here’s where I started… and here’s what I still have to do every day...”

Enthusiasm fades as I describe daily effort and continual self-inspired gumption.

Here’s what I’m saying. I’m beyond stoked to share what’s worked for me - but you motherfuckers have to follow through. That means you can’t skim my writing, half-absorb it, make a non-committal “I’ll try this later” plan, and expect that you’ll ever feel any fucking different. You also can’t take a “heard it all before” attitude and write my shit off - there’s a reason why you’re hearing mental health management tips repeatedly from multiple sources. They work.

Keep up your shitty “that won’t work for me attitude” and see where it gets you. In a year or two or five, you’ll still be reading articles like mine and wondering what the secret is.

(The secret is work.)

So, what's "Step One?"

To decide you're going to do it and start changing your MINDSET. Before we can rewire everything, we need to understand the layout of the circuit board and identifying the missing parts.

Sounds like garbage? Yeah. But all I'm saying is, if you don't believe you can change and find reasons to change, you aren't going to change.

I'm not Tony Roberts, I don't know how to coach you into submission... but here's how I inspired myself to change and the mindset tools I use every day to keep my activities in line with my intentions.

1. Get out of your poop-brain - Get Busy.

If you’re serious about making change, you just have to do it. Sitting around, letting your brain stew on negativity is not making a move. Taking action all day every day, is a step forward. That’s the point I got to in late 2018, and that’s when my life flipped into the rightsideupland within a few months. (Also, don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of pre-results work. It was my final mindset shift in spring 2019 that pushed me into “fuck yeah, look who’s functional now” territory.)

Being busy and giving myself permission to act without so much thinking was a huge part of moving forward. Standing still and considering the landscape is nice, but eventually you have to start the journey.

So, if you’re serious about making change to your trauma brain, know that it’s always going to be hard. You must commit to being physically/emotionally/personally uncomfortable and taking a lot of time out of your day to correct your fucked up thinking.

Ready to commit?

Making change is hard. Start by adding new activities into your daily life, little by little. It can be small, safe activities that don't even require you to leave the house. Fill up your free time with things that fulfill your brain in different ways and exercise new areas.

So, if you normally work on a computer all day, take up a hobby working with your hands. If you constantly write technical documents, give yourself permission to pen a little fiction or free writing. If you live and work in an urban environment, take up a small indoor plantscape. If you've always wanted to learn a new skill, google "best podcast for __" and start learning passively. If you've gotten bored by your usual haunts, explore a new genre of music on Spotify, put together diverse playlists, and expand your singing/dancing capabilities when no one is home. (I got a few for you)

Let yourself consider new possibilities and give yourself permission to play. This is not a serious time. Do new things, see if you like them. If not, do something else. Give yourself reasons to be excited.

2. Open your thoughts - Get Greedy.

Next, I recommend you get pissed off about your life. Look at all the things you aren’t satisfied with (hold back your self-shame and judgement while you do this) and start considering the ways they COULD BE.

Is that already asking too much?

Yeah, I know it's a big task. We're traumatized; it's our nature to assume life is continually filled with struggle and strife. Things don't work out for me. There's no point in planning for the future. Imagining a better life feels impossible.

That's why you're going to do it while you perform some of your time-filling and mind-freeing activities from step 1. I say this for two reasons. One, because you might be more inspired and confident after exploring new interests. You might open your brain to new income streams and projects, forcing yourself into future-thinking. Secondly, because when your brain is happily occupied with something naturally pleasing, it's a lot easier to let uncomfortable thoughts stream in the background.

We all know this cliche example I'm about to provide - you forget a word and can't remember it until hours later, when you're doing something unrelated. Sometimes your brain forms connections or approaches things in a new way when you're working on another problem. So, if you struggle with "immediate shutdown" when an uncomfortable thought enters your psyche (I do), distract yourself and buy time to sit with the discomfort until it dissipates. Your brain might resolve the question for you if you actually entertain the thought for long enough instead of avoiding the icky feeling.

When you're listening to an information-packed podcast, painting a chair, or planting a new friend, you're more open to passing thoughts. You absorb new information, which is inherently the opposite of resistant thinking (that immediate gut punch/"NO" reaction). You don't judge yourself so harshly for trying to imagine a better life. You don't immediately jump to the scary steps necessary to get there. In short: your brain and body aren't so immediately resistant to the threat of the unknown. Your brain can mold and manipulate the thought from different directions. You can acknowledge that it's only a thought - not a threat. You can explore the problem from a logical and emotionally safe distance. A new answer might appear.

For instance, as I painted furniture, listened to business podcasts, and took up indoor gardening, I was able to start thinking of futures in which I utilized my new skills/interests. Maybe I'll have a home with big, south facing windows for extra light. Maybe I'll start a blog about overcoming my brown thumb. From there, I could start to imagine the other aspects of my life that I wanted or needed to accompany these changes. I was able to approach extremely uncomfortable realities and make plans for change.

I realized that if I wasn’t terrified of driving, I wouldn’t be tethered to the hell house where I lived. If I wasn’t freaked out by ambiguity and unexpected life events, I could actually enjoy the ride and live a real life. If I didn’t keep my social circle restricted to about 2 trusted confidants, I could have more support and connections in my life. If I overcame my fear of going places alone, I could experience my city and make friends - or just stop being terrified of other humans.

These were elements of life that I decided I wanted and needed. For the first time in many years, I got greedy and believed I deserved to have good things (good luck with those core beliefs!).

3. Reframe your experience - Get Pissed.

Got interests and desires? Time to get mad.

Let's incite some rage by noticing all the ways trauma has held you back from accomplishing or attempting your goals in life. Think about the ways your mental health stopped you from developing a life you truly want to live. All the times you turned away from living a fuller life because you had too much unmanaged chaos going on upstairs. The accumulated pain of waking up every day without a single hope for positive outcomes.

The problem with trauma, besides a lot of things, is that it feels inescapable. Trauma changes the chemistry of your brain box. It overrides the mainframe computer. It gets damn near impossible to separate what's unhealthy trauma thinking, and what's reality. It begins to feel like there's no difference between you and your trauma. Your life is your trauma. Your trauma is your life. This was "chosen" for you and resistance is futile. It's a sentence.

So, consider trauma as a "life sentence" and ask yourself:

What do you want to change and why haven't you?

What's holding you back?

Why can't you have nice things?

Who decided that your fate was to be unhappy?

When did you give up on yourself?

How have you been put in this box?

Why do others treat you like you're the problem?

Who says you have to live with less than everyone else?

This is the "old way" of thinking. Your answers might be full of victimization, inaccountability, and hopelessness. "I don't know, that's how it's always been, the universe did this to me..." Everyone and everything is acting against you, and you never had a chance.

You're wrong... but that's okay - that's how it fucking feels to be you and live your existence. But, what if this mental health and subsequent lifestyle isn't a matter of cosmic fate?

Now, instead, consider what we really know to be true. Trauma as an experience and your inherent evolutionary method of adaptation for continued survival.

Ask yourself the same questions. The answers probably look a lot different.

What do you want to change and why haven't you?

What's holding you back?

Why can't you have nice things?

Who decided that your fate was to be unhappy?

When did you give up on yourself?

How have you been put in this box?

Why do others treat you like you're the problem?

Who says you have to live with less than everyone else?

Maybe now, from a kinder perspective, your answers are more like "I want to change my outlook and symptoms, I really started losing myself around age 22, some unfortunate and shocking experiences have reprogrammed my brain to feel helpless and incapable, I haven't changed because I don't know where to start."

It's easy to see - you aren't doomed or destined to be unhappy. Unmanaged trauma and mental illness is the root of your problems. Society's failure to acknowledge (therefore, to diagnose, treat, and respect) trauma has made you feel ashamed and broken.

Don't get defeated. Get pissed.

Identify your pain points, get mad at your trauma-inspired life of chronic lacking, and fucking get motivated. Decide that you’re ready to do whatever it takes to rewire your trauma brain and mean it. Put your foot down, and stop feeling ashamed for the bodily survival processes that resulted in maladaptive behaviors. Get angry for all the people who blamed you, called you difficult, or poo-pooed your experience. Commit to new daily practices. Prepare to let go of everything that keeps you avoidant.

Be kind to yourself. Call yourself out if necessary, but pretend you're talking to a good friend. Keep your outrage focused on moving forward, not what you've done in the past.

Wrap up.

Alright, got your pissy and determined mindset?

Nah? You'll probably need to exercise that muscle. Practice regularly!

Stay busy, stay open in your thinking, and keep reframing your experience.

Sincerely process my demands. If you’re interested in getting better with MY anti-PC, anti-pussy help, well… I don’t know what kind of masochist you are… but you’d better be ready to put in the effort. No victims or excuse makers allowed in the club house.

*takes swig of Lady Beer 2019* #damesanddregs

I’ll tell you about Step Two when we’re both ready.

A quick note: I have this whole thing laid out “step by step” for a reason, but if you’re needing life-inspiration to get started with the “earlier steps” of healthier living or making time for yourself - start here instead. No problem.

For me, it was necessary to quiet my body, gain some confidence, understand where my pessimism started, and begin recognizing other possibilities before I could find a new life goal to focus on. Knocking down those hierarchical needs to free up some brain space and recognize new possibilities, you know?

You might be different. Do what you gotta do in whatever order you gotta do it.

Step One - Get Mad

Step Two - Reduce your Dietary Discomfort

Step Two point Five - Move your Ass

Step Three - Get Educated on Trauma Physiology

Step Four - Write your Trauma Narrative

Step Five - Give yourself Purpose

Step Six - Give yourself a Break

If you’re into what I’m saying, or really mad at me for shitting all over unmotivated strangers, shoot me an email at traumatizedmotherfxckers@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you! (I promise I won’t call you a pussy again, unless you’re my older brothers or you're objectively being a massive vagine.)



Traumatized Motherfxckers

Not doomed. Not damaged.

Not dead yet.

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