When we think of somebody having a traumatic experience we think of accidents, abuse, losing a loved one, etc. But the more usual type of trauma that happens to all of us can be something seemingly much less dramatic. Trauma can happen when we are placed in a situation where we feel helpless and disempowered. To a child this may be something as "small" as being laughed at when she sings or being yelled at for losing her lunch money. Your father chiding your mother for buying you a new toy when you were little can be a trauma that is still affecting you today in different ways (like not enjoying your life or not feeling that you deserve anything good or a fear of men). Since traumas are life situations where we feel defenseless, to children it can be caused by the appearance of rejection (since they know they're not capable of surviving on their own). As long as it feels frightening to the child and doesn't get "released," it's internalized as a trauma and "frozen" in time.
What does this mean? The part of our brain that is at work here is the primitive (reptilian) brain. Its purpose is to keep us safe and to survive. When the primitive brain perceives a threat, it reacts to protect us. All sensory input goes into it first and it has first and immediate access to our reflexes and emotions. It helps us when we have our hand on the hot stove, moving us quickly away before we realize it consciously. Since its purpose is to keep us safe, it stores data to react quickly in case of a future similar event. Therefore it forms many links and associations between the threat and all of the sensory things that were going on at the same time (eating a certain food, somebody having a certain emotion, being in a certain place, a sound in the environment). It grabs on to all of these things as "causes" for the helplessness and stores that data for future reference. Otherwise the primitive brain is just about reaction. It only knows Flight, Fight or Freeze.
Everybody knows about the Fight or Flight response, but what actually happens most of the time (since modern day humans are conditioned out of fleeing or fighting) is the Freeze response. When we freeze, the biochemical processes and stress hormones that were supposed to help us with fighting or fleeing get released and flood the body anyway. Healthy ways of subsequently discharging this trauma out of our system would be if we would shake, shiver, or get comforted by another person (which releases counteracting hormones). But when we "pull ourselves together" this doesn't happen, the trauma stays. Unfortunately we are trained out of allowing our body to release this energy in a natural way. We are told to "calm down," "pull it together," "stop overreacting," and "big boys don't cry."
For many frightening experiences "home comfort" is not available because it was at home that the trauma occurred! Lack of attachment and attunement between child and parents is one of the most common and critical traumas to address.
When we naturally release the trauma and purge the survival hormones, it shows the primitive brain that we did survive, and we are safe and resilient. This allows the cognitive brain to start processing the information and throwing out the irrelevant associations. You can actually feel more empowered and capable after you've faced challenges and survived... as long as the trauma is discharged in a healthy way.
Keep in mind the broad associations that were made by the primitive brain regarding the sensory input during the trauma. For example if you were eating an apple as a three-year-old while your father yelled at you, an apple might cause the same biochemical reaction later in life. Or if you are a war veteran, the sound of a car door slamming might trigger you into existential terror. Or you had a very critical parent and now you stress out to get the boss's approval.
The frozen event is still currently active in the brain. Our subconscious doesn't know the difference between past and present. Unless the conscious part of our brain gets the chance to process those events it is still running as a current event in the subconscious. The primitive brain is not able to update any information about this and gets triggered when there is any sensory resemblance of that trauma.
Or it may decide that we are not good at handling life events... or even that the whole world is unsafe. The primitive brain evolved when we were still living in tribes where we were doomed when we didn't fit in and got cast out by the tribe, so it doesn't just react to physical dangers, but also to social pressures.
Our primitive brain also latches on to positive associations. For example if your mother baked cookies and was in a good mood and cuddled you, you might identify cookies with good mood, connection and love and thus reach for cookies whenever you want love.
You can imagine the wide reaching implications that all of those unconscious connections have on our well-being! We all have them and just resolving a couple of the larger ones frees up so much energy to live healthier physically and emotionally!
I want to introduce a method that I am integrating into my practice more and more because of its incredible success:
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
The results of this method are marvelous shifts and life-changing miracles that have been experienced and documented by thousands of people who have used it.
It's easy to learn, simple to use and the results are immediate and permanent.
Using EFT you will be tapping with your fingertips on certain key natural comfort acupressure points on the body. While tapping, you will state a truth about how you feel or on a certain memory or trauma followed by a positive affirmation. This seems to allow the primitive brain to "update its files" and realize that the event is truly over. The part of our energy that was frozen and trapped in the event can finally be released. Studies have shown the immediate biochemical and physiological effects on the brain and body.
Tapping is much more effective than talk therapy in accessing, connecting with and reprogramming the primitive brain in a remarkably fast way. Tapping seems to create a relief inside this primitive brain and break up the unconscious program that is still running. It signals the brain that the situation is resolved, so it is not reacting in the same old way it always did.
This approach brings so much instant relief and frees up so much energy! I wouldn't believe it had I not followed the huge number of studies documenting the dramatic success of this method as well as seen miraculous results in my clients (please refer to testimonials section).
Using EFT we can also reprogram the unconscious mind to form a new connection. Positive affirmations while tapping get locked in the subconscious to form a new baseline. Locking in a new emotional reality changes your life and you literally create your own reality that is not dependent on what happened to you before but on how you choose to feel now.
You can incorporate an EFT Tratment in a regular session. I also use it very successfully with my natonal and international clients via skype.