One of the hallmarks of trauma are feeling powerless, stuck and unable to change the situation we are in. And that is because when traumatic events occurred we were a victim of our circumstances and had no way of avoiding or changing what has happened.
For example, when we were children, we didn’t have any choice in how our caregivers responded to us. And a real threat as this pandemic brings tied with the feeling of being stuck inside the house and maybe seeing that old soothing tools/things that used to make us feel better are no longer help us may bring us back to those early times when we had no choice and no way to make things better for ourselves.
If you feel this way, this post is to let you know you are not alone.
Feeling like we cannot find relief no matter what we do can be so challenging and you have all the reasons to feel activated and even angry at the situation. Actually, I encourage you to allow the anger to come up and release it in healthy ways – maybe going for a run or shouting into a pillow.
And I also want to let you know that even when things seem as stuck as they used to be, our current adult version has options.
Here’s a few things that may help us show our nervous system that we are not back in the traumatic event, but in a present where we can do things to get unstuck:
- Notice when thoughts like “nothing works, there is no point” pop up and try to look at them like an observer “I am having the thought that nothing works” without arguing with that thought
- Get back into your body – get curious about the sensations you are feeling and gently look around and describe the place you are in (out loud or mentally) – this will bring yourself back into the present
- Seek evidence when the tools you use do work, or simply when you are feeling more centered. Take out your phone or a piece of paper and write down “I felt anxious and I have tried x or y soothing tool and I actually feel calmer” or “Even though this days I have the thoughts that it does not get better, I now notice my mind is more clear and I am enjoying my cup of coffee”
- If you tried soothing tools that did not work, that’s okay. Our job is to simply bring our attention back into the present moment as many times as we can with orientating tools like taking in the surroundings to show our nervous system that we are no longer back when we were stuck and powerless. With practice, this can help us heal the past and disconfirm the beliefs that we are powerless.
You are not alone and whatever you are going through makes so much sense.
Remember – We are navigating these challenging times together.