The body ’remembers’
- When a person goes through trauma, they are said to experience a ‘wordless fear’.
The emotional impact of the event may begin to interfere with the ability to put the experience into words. It becomes difficult to share one’s experience with others.
We later ‘remember’ dangerous and frightening events with our emotions and bodies, because that helps us to react faster the next time when we are in a dangerous situation. Our bodies react before we have a chance to think.
- If anything happens that is in some way reminiscent of an earlier unsafe experience (this is called a trigger) then, even if you are currently safe, your brain will register the danger before the so-called thinking part of the brain gets a chance to remember and focus on the fact that the current situation is different and you are safe.
- When we remember something without any flashbacks or words or if we cannot remember anything at all, it does not feel like we are remembering something from the past. It feels like we are experiencing something NOW!
To address what happened
THE WRITING METHODa suitable way to address what happened in case there is avoidant behaviour (author: J. Pennebaker) Write every day for three to five days Write for 15 to 30 minutes at a time, in a place where you will not be disturbed Write down your thoughts and deepest emotions regarding what happened What
Control of intrusive thoughts
Write down the thoughts in detail Turn the text into ‘silly’ song lyrics which you can sing to yourself Change the order of the thoughts, read them from back to front, make a ‘funny’ change Use forceful thoughts or statements expressing coping, such as: I do what I can, I am getting help, I am
Control over emotions
When something very disturbing has happened, it inevitably causes disturbing thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, memories, etc., and addressing these should be timely and manageable for you (so it would not flood you with extremely intense emotions and sensations). This exercise can help greatly with that. The container can be used for temporary storage of stress,
Tips for calming down
Quick relaxation: Inhale and exhale deeply 3–4 times Clench your fists and then relax Say ‘I am relaxing’ as you exhale Imagine holding anxiety in your fists and letting it go as you unfold your fingers The last of the tension will go away when you shake your hands. Grounding to keep you in