You say to yourself, “feel the fear and do it anyway," and suddenly you freeze. Your heart is racing, your breath is shallow, and you're sweating. You can't do it, but everyone and their brother says you can. You are terrified... and ashamed on top of it all. What's going on?
Your body's fear response has kicked in: your sympathetic nervous system is preparing you for fight, flight or freeze— a natural biological response designed to keep all living creatures safe in the face of danger. For some people, this is where even the most irrational of fears can feel really, really real. Like all-encompassing, frozen-in-time, out-of-control, panicky, horribly dangerous REAL...
This can really get in the way of living a full, abundant and joyful life.
So, on the heels of my last post, I want to provide clarity and encouragement to those who—because of past traumatic experiences—can’t simply feel the fear and do it anyway (yet)... who might misinterpret or feel shunned by the Law of Attraction (at least for now). Because I believe we all deserve the thrill of being able to face our fears and reach our biggest dreams...
The thing about trauma:
Thanks to brilliant minds and researchers like Bessel van der Kolk and Peter Levine, we now know that The Body Keeps the Score when bad things happen to us. "Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard," according to Van Der Kolk.
So, what do we do with the pain of past traumas that leave us easily triggered, untrusting of the world around us, and unsafe in our own bodies?
Engage in therapy with a trauma-informed clinician, where you'll learn how to:
develop healthy boundaries around your healing experience and communications with others
resource (or comfort) yourself when triggered
rely less on the things you were using to numb, mask, or distract you from the pain
safely address the resulting negative beliefs/cognitions so that you can transform them into healthy, realistic beliefs about yourself and the world around you
move those bad memories out of the limbic system (the reactive, emotional brain) and into the pre-frontal cortex (the logical, planning, higher order thinking brain)
integrate traumatic/adverse experiences into your past (aka, exactly where they belong), so they no longer cause overwhelming distress in the present
Psychotherapies that rely less on verbal processing (aka, experiential approaches) like Art Therapy, EMDR Therapy, Neuro/Biofeedback, Yoga Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, and Music Therapy are best practices.
a game-changer phrase that you need to know:
A powerful phrase I share with all of my clients came to me through Tara Brach’s work. It is:
"Sometimes fear is REAL but NOT TRUE."
I think this concept is something we can all grasp, whether we've experienced trauma or not. Just think of the last time your Inner Critic kept you from doing the thing: that's fear talking. It felt real but it wasn't true.
However, often for a trauma survivor, everyday anxieties (like trying something new or speaking up for oneself) can be experienced as both very real and very true fears until trauma is resolved. In the face of these challenges, the survivor feels legitimately threatened: in body, mind and spirit.
But, by engaging in healing processes that bring closure to traumatic experiences, survivors can find freedom from feeling as if the past is replaying in vivo every time the fear response is triggered. They can begin to discern what is real from what is true; fear around positive goals and personal challenges can be felt and managed instead of numbed, avoided, or masked.
Fear & the Law of Attraction: Putting it all together...
As a result of engaging in the healing process, positive visions of the future can be reinstalled and hope can be generated. Survivors can begin to experiment with the power of positive thoughts and feelings, bringing even further growth and transformation into their lives— otherwise known as post-traumatic growth. They'll find that the positive energy they send out into the world will meet them as they truly want to be met. Sometimes all they will need is a compassionate trauma-informed therapist to clear the path ahead for healing. All of this will take time and patience.
In closing, we can never remove fear from our emotional repertoire. In fact, we need fear. Fear and pain are essential to keeping us safe, healthy, and aware of our biggest challenges and goals in life.
I believe we all deserve healing. I believe we all deserve the thrill of being able to face our fears and reach our biggest dreams. I believe that what we put out into the world is how we are met. By releasing the residual fears of trauma, you can attract comfort and joy back into your life.
Be good to yourself,