“For a person to truly recover from a traumatic experience, they need to learn at the level of their body that the danger has passed.” Dr Bessel van der Kolk
Joy. Grief. Terror. Connection. Isolation. Kindness. Betrayal. Compassion. Oceans and forests. Deserts. Community. War. Caring. Shame. Stigma. Love. Grit. Addiction. Resilience. Human spirit. Life force.
What do all of these have in common? They are dimensions of being human in a body negotiating life in a world filled with other people. It’s tough! And amazing! Even for a person living without Big T Trauma, life holds many disappointments and hardships. This idea many of us have that life should be dancing in a meadow in the sunshine is a delusion. We add to our suffering when we judge ourselves as doing something wrong because we feel isolated or sad. In my own healing and work with people, I see so clearly how our mechanisms work.
Our primitive brains are hardwired to protect our physical survival. We form beliefs based on our actual experience and safety is #1. We have all been hurt. We have all experienced joy and peace. We are hard-wired to protect ourselves (negativity bias in the brain) and we also have a survival level need for connection with other people.
In my interview with Dr Jamie Marich for Radical Recovery (January 2018), I asked a question about feeling safe enough and this clip shows part of her response. Safe enough involves teaching my body the danger has passed or if it comes again I can protect myself. I can learn.
Our longing for connection and love competes with protecting ourselves. We know that as we engage in life, we will at times experience pain. What do we do with that?
We need to update our files. Childhood events happened to us as children. Core deficiency beliefs and protective strategies affected us through our adult lives. That’s true. We can also know that we have resources now that we didn’t have then. We can build our strength and resiliency – see the clip from my interview with Dr Rick Hanson.
We reach a tipping point where we know in our guts that it is safe to be present with the energy in our body. We learn tools to work effectively with our compulsive thoughts. We use gratitude practices to remember in our cells that life can be sweet.
What I like about the image with this blog post is that she is holding both a sword and the scales of justice. She is a warrior, bringing fierceness, intelligence, discrimination and courage.
As we heal from the effects of traumatic events, we become more able to move out into the world. We step out into our juicy, difficult, joyous life.
Every day presents a new opportunity to build resiliency and connection. Join me and our lovely small group any day at 8AM Eastern for a half hour of guided relaxation and inquiry. http://zoom.us/j/645904638