After you have experienced trauma, it can be very hard to “walk away” from that experience and not allow it to affect you on a daily basis. Although many people believe that they can just “put it behind” them, a majority of those people discover that’s not so easy to do. If you struggle because of trauma, we can help. Please read what we present here to help you understand why trauma has changed your life and what you can do to recover – and take your life back.
Trauma takes many potential forms. One of the most common ways it happens is through the course of repeated carelessness by neglectful or abusive parents. For those who experienced this during childhood, trauma in relationship to others seems to be an ongoing pattern. Trauma also comes via natural or man made disasters. You may have been in an accident or someone may have done something to intentionally harm you. Maybe something terrible happened as a result of something you without intending to cause harm to anyone.
Trauma is difficult because it affects your daily life and all of your relationships, including – and most importantly – your relationship with yourself. It takes over your body. It changes your personality. It changes your brain. When your brain sees a new event as another, similar trauma, allows your fight or flight system to take over to protect you from perceived threats – real or imagined. It seems to drive your interactions with others in ways you can’t see until you’re sitting alone, looking back at everything you were doing while you felt like you were fighting for your life. Trauma discourages you and makes you believe you shouldn’t take good care of yourself. It isolates you based on fear of others or fear of your own reactions around others. Trauma steals your motivation and can even cause you to believe that life doesn’t have any purpose.
Here at The Center for Healthy Relationships, we are bold enough to say that you CAN heal your trauma. Just as your skin knows how to heal itself when you give it the proper care after an injury, your body, brain and soul are also programmed to heal. You can learn how to access this programming to heal yourself.
In the same way that your body needs certain conditions to heal a wound or injury, you need to provide your body/mind/soul with certain things in order to take your life back from trauma. Let’s look at a few of them:
➤ Empathetic Self-ReflectionTM
After trauma, there is a natural tendency to avoid all reminders of what happened. This happens because the actual memories of what happened as well as what you tell yourself about what happened are painful. We do not have a common language in our culture to help us deal with trauma, loss and grief. So, left to ourselves, we try to avoid it and deal with it alone. Your tendency to critically evaluate yourself and come to negative conclusions is a normal part of the aftermath of trauma – especially since you’re trying to heal on your own. These self-critical patterns of thought show up every time you think you could be hurt by someone: so you adjust your behavior to the situation in anticipation of any conflict being your fault. If you were hurt in an accident or in interpersonal violence, you may engage in what we call “20/20 Hindsight”: the tendency to be critical of yourself because you did not do something to change events that you could not have known about or that were out of your control. Empathetic self-reflection is a way of being mindful of your needs and the fact that you deserve safety and security. It will help you develop a habit of holding your perceptions with gentle self-respect rather than continuing a loop of self-criticism and self-doubt. This will allow you to see the reminders of your trauma as opportunities for healing rather than as signals to hide and criticize to yourself for not having protected yourself from harm in the first place. You will learn to develop your nurturing inner voice to help you neutralize reminders of trauma and choose actions that nurture and soothe you as you continue your healing journey.
➤ Trauma and Grief
Trauma always brings grief because in the process of healing your trauma, you will inevitably confront the difference in the way your life was or could have been without the trauma. Just as there is a natural tendency to avoid the thoughts and feelings related to trauma, we also have an inclination to avoid the grief associated with trauma. But self-nurturing grief is a natural part of the healing process; a part that is essential to your future freedom from the effects of trauma. We will help you understand how to see your grief as a natural, healthy part of your process – and how to embrace it rather than fearing it.
➤ Understanding Your Own Fight/Flight Responses
Your fight or flight response is what happens when you are reminded of a trauma and everything in your body tells you that your life is in danger. When this happens, you naturally lose the ability to think clearly because logical conversation isn’t part of fighting or running for your life! In order to heal this aspect of trauma, you must first understand what your brain is trying to do and learn to ground yourself so that you can think clearly, even in situations that typically cause you to panic. We will teach you how. We will also teach you how to developing a compassionate view of how your flight/fight response affects your physical well-being and health and how to reverse the process that is deteriorating your health. Although this prospect may seem impossible to you now, we are prepared to help you get a full understanding of your trauma triggers and how to calm your body and mind in real time. This will be key to putting you in control of your healing process.
An essential aspect of trauma is the reality that what happened to you was outside of your control. In order to heal from trauma, you must be given the ability to take back control over your body. We will help you do that.
➤ Understand How Managing (Or Not Managing) Your Stress Contributes to your Trauma Experience
We have noticed that while people often talk of stress, there are few structured programs for helping people reliably discuss, evaluate and reduce the stresses in their lives. The truth is that if you have experienced trauma, your body has become hyper-sensitized to stress. You need a system to help you reduce the reactivity in your body caused by a prolonged period of fight or flight readiness. Our program will give you a reliable tool for moment-to-moment assessment of your current stress and reactivity levels. We will also teach you how to use this tool to consistently reduce in-the-moment reactivity in your body. Often we hear from trauma survivors that it is difficult to learn or practice things they have heard before about overcoming trauma. We have found that our stress assessment and management process assists with the learning process so that everything else we provide in our program becomes easier to apply.
➤Understanding How to Identify and Take Care of Your Essential Needs
Surviving trauma involves doing whatever it takes to survive. After trauma, the body takes on the belief that the trauma behaviors should continue, even when the danger has passed. Some even carry forward the tendency to hold their breath in the aftermath of trauma – showing us in a very real way how trauma leads to a real life-or-death struggle involving sacrificing basic needs in service of survival. Less dramatic examples of this include: not asking for what you need in relationship, feeling guilty when you do something nice for yourself or giving your preferences over when someone else demands their way (or when you think they are making demands on you). Real healing from trauma involves restructuring your beliefs about who you have to be in the world and making room for you to discover and seek what makes you happy – instead of always settling for what keeps you safe. Our program will teach you how to identify the subtle ways trauma has encouraged you to set yourself on the back burner and how to shift those beliefs toward a healthier pattern of self-care.
➤ Rebuild Your Life After Trauma with New Beliefs/Rules
Once you understand how to think about and deal with the aftereffects of trauma, you can start to think about new possibilities for your life without the overshadowing of that you have been through. You will be able to develop new ways of thinking, free from fear. Ultimately, you will be able to divest the trauma memories you have of the intense emotional energy that they now hold. Instead of bringing up terror, the thought of what happened to you will be just something that happened – like other, less traumatic pieces of your life story. Your trauma will become a part of who you are in terms of what you have learned from it, the strength you gained and how you developed the ability to heal. You will be able to truly give yourself permission to move forward with your life, leaving the trauma behind you. Instead of a life restricted by the things your memories of trauma encouraged you to avoid, you will be able to embrace new experiences with excitement and anticipation rather than fear and withdrawal.
You can take your life back from trauma. Participating in our PTSD Recovery Program is the first step.
Our PTSD Recovery Program is offered in a group format at The Center for Healthy Relationships. The groups are offered as a stand-alone service, but can also be a supportive adjunct to individual therapy if you are already in treatment to deal with trauma. Our PTSD Recovery groups are held in 12-week, closed sessions and are limited to 8 to 10 participants, each of whom has been pre-screened to ensure the group will be a good fit and appropriate to each person’s needs. The fee is $50 per group session ($600 for the entire group series). A 50% deposit is required at your intake interview as well as a $75 processing fee once your participation is determined to be potentially beneficial to you. The balance is required at the first session. The fee for the series is non-refundable.
The Center for Healthy Relationships
350 S Lake Ave suite 201, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA