Updated: May 21, 2020
Okay. We have a small grasp on our physical feelings. Hopefully you’re feeling more relaxed because of the physical energy release, less sickly because of the high quality diet, and more thought-organized from spending time in nature. If not, you need to keep working. If so, you still need to keep working. Sorry fuckers.
So, just to reiterate. Don’t slack on your diet and exercise, or you will pay the consequences when your brain and body are all fully fucked again. Say goodbye to another year of your life. Start again in 2020 when the defeat wears off.
Fuck that, right?
Care about yourself for a fucking second. Give yourself permission to continue these physical wellness habits that can ONLY HELP YOU FEEL BETTER, no matter if you’re a traumatized motherfucker or not. Whoever you are, you deserve nutrition and exercise - every day. You should have a clear head and high quality sleep. Make time and treat it as your gift to yourself. Celebrate not being shitty, for once.
Instead of poo-pooing my advice and waiting for the world to fix your problems, just do it now.
Doing it? Sweet, so your baseline is feeling better. Symptoms are still cropping up left and right, but hopefully you can identify them a little more easily when there aren’t as many noisy signals polluting the airwaves. You should also have a little more room to breathe and think. That’s super important, because your only task is to be able to concentrate and absorb this next part. (Hey! It’s almost like I did ordered this on purpose!) If your brain is feeling resistant or you’re in a shitty mood - go ahead and set this aside. Read when you’re feeling open minded and capable.
Task for this round: Absorb.
Understanding your traumatized brain
Your only job is to concentrate, understand, and accept the following message. Read slow. Feel the words. Give them a place to live.
Let’s accept; trauma is a physiological response to external events.
At some point, you encountered an event that your brain couldn’t integrate properly with its prior view of the world. Your sense of safety or perspective on life was radically shaken. As a survival mechanism, your brain started making drastic changes. It prioritized and familiarized the pathways that lead to fight or flight. It started relying on your primitive brain to make decisions about the world. It stopped properly engaging your reasonable brain in times of stress.
In short: your brain created an automatic internal reply to external triggers. Trauma is a physiological response to external events.
One more time, just to let it sink in.
“Trauma” is defined by your brain and body. (Not your mom, not your peers, not your therapist, not Fox News.)
Your brain can have a trauma response to anything that it fails to fully integrate. Carnage isn’t necessary for events to have a lasting impact. Your brain detects danger and it wants to keep you safe… but it gets confused and trigger-happy at times.
On terrible, symptom-heavy days, do you notice how other people keep on keepin’ on, while you’re trapped in a personal hell? That’s because THE WORLD isn’t exploding. YOUR BRAIN is. Other folks probably didn’t even notice your trigger.
Everything you experience - the anxiety, panic, dissociation, fight or flight, flashbacks, etc etc etc… is a REACTION to the world.
The feelings are very real. But the threat probably isn’t. Or else everyone would be running, too. You know?
Cool. So we all agree, trauma happens in your brain and body as a response to external events.
Awesome. Go do some additional reading or listening if you want actual biological details or experts to verify what I’m saying. Get interested in trauma. Try to understand your brain. Knowledge is power and whatnot.
Accept: you can control your brain.
So, can we stop feeling those useless thoughts and feelings when they don’t serve us?
Is it possible to rewire physical sensations and brain pathways?
Can we regulate the mental responses that have kept us down?
Hell yeah, we can.
I know, it sounds like garbage. I get it. This time last year I would have told myself to get fucked, too.
“This shit is overwhelming. I don’t have a clue how to change my physiological responses. I’m not choosing to feel or think like this and I’m not in control, asshole.”
A year later, I can tell you with certainty that you’re capable to control many of your thoughts and physical reactions. It’s just going to take a lot of work. And it would be a million times easier if you started believing that you could do it.
(Or else you won’t ever get started or put in your best effort, will you?)
Learn to redirect your energy.
You are in control of your thoughts and feelings. No matter how intrusive, obsessive, and nervous your inner landscape is, you can always redirect your energy.
Hey, we already learned some convenient ways to do that, didn’t we? When we put energy into physical exercise, creative outlets, and decompressing in nature we automatically feel better, right?
It’s almost like you’ve been equipped with efficient tools to use for this very scenario. If your trauma leads to agoraphobia/shutdowns or inhibits your reasonable thinking, work harder at making your mental health activities into HABITS. Do it regularly. Don’t think about it so much. Just go do it.
If you put your practice on autopilot, you won’t even have to think about the remedy to your brain and body discomfort. Notice an anxious tickle, and instantaneously get the fuck outside.
Without the need for reasoned thinking you have no room to catastrophize what terrible things could happen on your way out the door. Don’t deter yourself before you take action.
Absorb, understand, and accept.
If you feel the resistance wall popping up in your chest and stomach, try to relax. Hold a deep “out breath,” pause, and re-approach.
Re-read as many times necessary.
Seek out supporting materials****..
Do whatever you have to do to believe the following:
Trauma is an overenthusiastic response to external stimuli.
You can control of your thoughts and feelings.
You can redirect your energy.
You can find ways to manage your inner world.
**** Try entrepreneur, mindset, and woo-woo podcasts, if you want my opinion.****
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.
Cool, see you next time.