I was inspired to expand on this by a quora question that asked ‘can I deal with my trauma by just talking or writing about it?’.
The blunt answer is.. no.
I’ve spent hours and hours talking about my trauma over the years to different people and it does little to actually shift it. What does shift it is going deeper into it, connecting with the feelings, anger, frustration, insecurity, fear, hopelessness etc and allowing yourself to feel it a little at a time to discharge it. It doesn’t happen just by talking. Some people have gone to therapists for years and still haven’t really made any progress towards actual healing.
To really heal trauma takes time, persistence and also funnily enough being gentle on yourself. It’s natural to want to keep pushing through and force yourself to bring up more and more intense emotions to just deal with them NOW. Unfortunately doing this can overwhelm you and sometimes send you back further, it’s best to build it up over time.
You also can’t fully do this without allowing yourself to feel some of these emotions. I wish it could be done without any of the emotions but the truth is that it can’t. I’m not saying you have to feel them all at once, instead learn to develop the ability to feel them a bit at a time.
Learn to know when your system is saying ‘that’s enough for now, i’ll let it rest for today’ but also at times when it’s good to push through a bit, and the difference between those times.
This is a hard thing to teach and really comes from experience in the process. It’s always good though to start small and build up gradually instead of trying to do it all at once.
But even that sounds too much for me, what do I do?
After trying so many things, I realized that alot of trauma work is missing a very important step. I only learnt this when I did a course from Irene Lyon who has the best trauma work i’ve found so far, and i’ve been working on this for years with many different methods.
The first important step is that when we have trauma, especially early trauma, we have a lack of ‘safety’ in our system, we just don’t feel safe in the world, don’t feel safe to be ourselves, don’t feel safe to go out into the world and explore, don’t feel safe to really even confront these feelings.
To start we need to build this sense of safety back into our system by reconnecting with ourselves and our body. Initially this can start by just allowing yourself to sit there, breathe and feel your body, focus on your breathing and what you’re feeling and just be okay with it. Even if it’s discomfort, or frustration or whatever it is. It helps you to be okay with what you’re feeling, without trying to run away from it and to also build the capacity to feel these feelings more over time so you can heal the trauma.
In this video Irene Lyon talks about safety. She explains it much better than I can.