If you saw my last post addressing the rumor that trauma can’t be healed, you already know that I covered the problems faced by therapists and therapists-in-training when it comes to finding and sharing effective tools for healing trauma for themselves and for their clients.
Today, I’m going to suggest that healing can and does happen with the right tools.
I have this opinion as a complex trauma survivor and a therapist. It was never enough for me to just understand it, to just live with it, to just integrate it into my life. No, that’s not good enough.
I know that most survivors of childhood trauma don’t believe it’s good enough either. They just don’t know what else to do. We all deserve way more than what has been offered up until now.
This idea that CPTSD can’t be healed, communicates that a survivor is broken.
If you believe it, then it’s going to make you believe that you’re broken and that there’s something that’s really wrong with you.
My foundational belief is that the idea of brokenness or having something fundamentally wrong because we experienced and survived trauma is a relic of the trauma itself and is the furthest that anything can possibly be from the truth.
Survivors have a level of resilience and strength to push through in spite of frequently feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. We keep on trying, searching and hoping in spite of feeling hopeless at times. There still lies in us a childlike hope that we will find the answers.
These are answers – answers I’ve been uncovering for myself and my clients for the last 30 years!
Since my early twenties, I noticed my own responses that don’t make sense in the current moment because they don’t match what’s happening around me. Instead of matching my real-time reality, they matched the realities imprinted on my trauma brain from decades earlier.
That’s when I started focusing on and healing my triggers.
It can be done. And it’s not as hard as many survivors think it is.
Over time, I started to develop systems and tools that gave me a greater and greater sense of control over my life. Since I began as a therapist, I shared my observations with my traumatized clients because I remained committed to holding no secrets behind a “professional” curtain. In my private practice I didn’t want to hide my thinking behind a curtain because I wanted to encourage my clients to be independent. To heal themselves. To know that they can do this and that they don’t have to feel overwhelmed by their trauma. That they have the power within themselves to heal it.
So I started openly offering my clients the same systems and tools that I discovered were most helpful as I explored what it took to heal my own trauma.
I started sharing my thinking about what this process of trauma does in the brain and how to focus on triggers specifically to heal them. I used my own examples with personal results to illustrate how to apply what I was doing to their own circumstances and individual triggers.
What I started seeing is that my clients started healing their CPTSD very quickly. As soon as a client healed one trigger, their confidence grew exponentially. Now, they knew that they could heal the next one and the next one. I watched as my clients began to rely on their bodies to show them the path to healing. I watched as they began trusting their bodies. I watched as their bodies led the way to deeper healing, joy and fulfillment in their lives.
And so I want to challenge you here today. I want to give you some ideas to think about.
Maybe you don’t have to just live with CPTSD. Maybe the idea that you have to live with it instead of fully healing it really is a misguided lie. Maybe it was a rumor started by therapists who haven’t healed themselves and so they don’t know how to help you heal yourself.
Maybe your triggers are telling you something. Maybe they’re pointing at where you need to look to heal.
Once you accept that possibility, the next one is that once you develop a specific way of listening and learn how to practice that, you’re already on your way to freeing yourself from triggers and everything that goes with them.
Maybe then you can heal yourself completely by learning how to trust and listen to your body in a way that supports healing.
So I want to challenge you on something else, too. Maybe you should stop telling your trauma story.
Maybe you should start listening instead and start trusting your body to have the answers to healing that you need.
People often repeat themselves when they feel unheard. I’d like to add another idea to that: survivors often repeat their stories because they don’t know what else to do with them.
Because no one has shown them how to get out of the negativity that triggers cause.
Let me tell you a story.
About 6 months ago, I started to experiment because although I’ve healed many, many of my triggers I noticed that I still got into these negative feedback loops. Even though I was rarely getting triggered, it was almost like my brain was “on alert” all the time for negativity.
I have a beautiful life. I have a wonderful partner. I’m very happy. I don’t have people in my life who harm me anymore, but I was still easily getting caught up in triggers and negativity.
Remember I said that we believe negative things about ourselves because of the trauma. The negative beliefs themselves are triggering.
We see ourselves negatively because of the habits we bring into today from our trauma history that are tied to the negative emotions that we feel whenever we have a trigger.
That’s a lot of negativity.
So, I started thinking: “Wait. If I’ve healed my triggers and I’ve healed my trauma, and I have a happy life; then why am I so easily sucked into negativity?”
Next, I started thinking about this idea of gratitude. I know, as a trauma survivor, I never wanted to hear: “Just be grateful.”
That itself was triggering.
But, hear me out here for a second.
I started thinking that there has to be a way to move my brain out of negative feedback loops that were created by all of that negativity in my childhood and all of those habits of negativity created by my trauma.
So I started a gratitude practice. Every morning and every night.
I have to tell you, it wasn’t fun. I didn’t enjoy it.
But at about two or three weeks in, something very interesting happened.
I began to realize that my body wanted to reject this practice but I continued the experiment.
After about two weeks, my fiance and I were in an Airbnb that I had picked. We slept there for one night and it was just awful. There was music playing loudly all night. We couldn’t rest. There were just problems with the space.
So, he says to me in the morning: “We have to move. We can’t stay in this Airbnb.”
I immediately shut down. I am a person who withdraws when I get triggered; I shut down and wanted to stop moving.
I saw myself not moving. I recognized it – something that I think I did much more quickly because of the gratitude practice. When I recognized it I thought: “Okay. I know that when I feel a trigger, I have to do something because my intense desire is to do nothing.” One of the important pieces of shifting out of the triggered state is to change something that you are doing. So I said, “I’m going to go get in the shower.”
I got up, I went in the shower and – I’m not kidding you – within 10 minutes, I could see the entire trigger. I could see that the reason I had been triggered: because as a kid, I always tried to do everything right. And if I didn’t get it right, that meant that somebody was going to hurt me.
Fast forward to now, I had picked the wrong Airbnb. I didn’t get it right. So now, I froze. Believing that he wasn’t going to love me anymore because I picked the wrong place.
In the shower, I could see all of that.
I went: “Wait a minute! That this Airbnb is not the right place for us, has nothing to do with me being lovable! I know he still loves me!”
So. I was able to get out of the shower completely myself again, no more trigger – in 10 minutes!
So, this specific gratitude practice works!
Next, I started sharing it with my private clients. As I started sharing it with them, guess what? It worked for them, too.
So I thought: “How can I share this with more people?” I’m all about sharing what works, especially in the face of this rumor that you can’t heal PTSD and can’t heal CPTSD, especially. So I thought, what do I want to do?
Here’s my answer: I’ve created a Facebook group called “I Am A Gift!” I want you to start seeing yourself as a gift because that’s the opposite of what trauma wants you to see.
As I see it, triggers impair survivors in eight areas of development. We can’t develop to our full potential as normal human beings if we have unhealed trauma from childhood, because we get triggers where there should be development.
In the group we’ll be doing monthly five day challenges in eight areas of development that are negatively impacted by trauma: 1. Food, 2. Your body, 3. How you treat your space, 4. How you are with money, 5. How you manage your emotions, 6. Who you are in relationships, 7. How you are receiving love and 8. Honoring yourself.
There is a prerequisite. If you want to come into the group and really learn how your development is stopped and pull away the curtain so that you can see the triggers that prevent you from moving forward in your development, you have to do something.
You have to go to Amazon and order my book: Gratitude and Inner Wisdom Journal for Trauma Survivors. I created it with a focus on those eight areas. It’s really a journal and a workbook, and this is what we will be using every month to work through those eight areas of development that I’ve mentioned.
If you want to come and join me in the group, if you want to get help learning how to work through and identify what’s really stopping you in these eight areas of development that I just listed, head on over to Amazon. It’s only $13. I only get $5 per book, so I’m not going to get rich doing this, but it is going to help me with the advertising costs of letting people know that this resource is out there.
Go over to Amazon (the link will be in the first comment) and join me in the Facebook group.
Let’s start talking about how to change those negative loops, how to identify and shift your triggers and to make change in your ability to see the good where good exists in your life. Remember: developmental gaps are held open by triggers.
For example, if someone gets anxiety and worry and fear and is unable to self-soothe, it is triggers that prevent that person from managing stress well. A gratitude practice for the skills developed during childhood that ensured survival will serve to shift a negative view of self into the ability to see triggers for what they are instead of leaving that person critical of self without any idea of how to break that negative self talk.
So pop on over to Amazon and get yourself the book it’s only $13. Learn how to think about yourself compassionately. Start working on how to stop that negativity so that you can believe that you can heal. Heal – not live with – chronic PTSD.
Click on the image below to go to Amazon. 🙂