Boom! and we're back!
Hey, It is Adewale Here. And welcome to the final part, "Part 2" of our series on healing trauma.
In the last article, we discovered 3 common mistakes people make in their efforts to stop being a victim of their past.
I gave you enough examples to help you understand how to avoid these traps So that you don't keep cycling around feeling like nothing is working for you.
And to keep my promise!
Remember I promised to reveal a new formula that will give you...
1) The quickest way to stop past trauma from having huge control over your life as it did with Thelma.
2) The 1 essential thing you must do to stop experiencing nightmares, flashbacks and sleepless nights caused by Trauma.
3) The necessary steps to overcome the emotional scars of the past and start to heal your extremely sensitive and overwhelmed nervous system.
I am going to break the formula down now. And I can promise you that it is going to be life-changing.
If you are like many who have struggled with trauma...
You most likely feel hopeless about the possibility of healing your trauma. You've been through every therapy approach and read countless self-help books. Yet Nothing has helped.
Now, you feel pretty certain from your life experiences that emotional scars can never heal.
I can totally relate...
For a very long time, I also thought that people who have way too many emotional scars would never heal.
But then ever so often, In my practice over the last 25 years whilst working with people struggling with Complex PTSD...
I noticed that some of them would actually report they had healed. And that trauma was no longer impacting their lives the way it previously did.
I spent a good two years looking for the common thread between all these clients trying to understand why some would experience healing whilst others didn't and discovered the following 4 things...
1. Using traditional CBT alone to treat Complex PTSD is borderline destructive. Though I am a CBT specialist, my experience has been that a strict CBT approach is experienced as cold, clinical, gaslighting, unempathetic, and invalidating to the point that it becomes triggering to most people struggling with complex PTSD.
2. Psychiatric medications alone can't save you either Medication is really only helpful when used in conjunction with a form of therapy that addresses the roots of trauma problems.
3. Traditional schema therapy is invalidating and re-traumatizing when used alone too because it can make you feel fragmented and leave you in a frenzy of emotions.
4. Polyvagal or Somatic treatment "ALONE" won't save you either because they don't address the survival and schema life traps that naturally follow people because of their experience of trauma.
Now here is what I have found to work...
I discovered that In order for therapy to be successful for Complex PTSD. Your strategies must address the following three issues consistently...
A. The strategy must tone and heal an extremely sensitive nervous system: You see, when you begin trauma therapy you become highly emotionally triggered which makes your nervous system painfully sensitive. This needs to be carefully catered to.
B. The strategy must also ensure that the treatment process does not crush your ability to function: Because therapy is naturally triggering, it can make daily life harder to live. It takes a ton more energy to do simple tasks because your emotions are all over the place. But you still have to carry on living your life. Life cannot stop just because you are having therapy, but most therapists don't make sure that your therapy does not interfere with living your life.
C. And at the same time, the strategy must restructure your internal schema to help you live a better more productive life: When someone is traumatized, their internal map of the world is severely damaged and must be restructured. This includes their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual maps. If you don't restructure these schemata properly, you will continue to get stuck in life. You may even end up with a more severe case of PTSD.
In fact, if you can start incorporating these 3 processes in your life consistently, you'll notice that...
I hope all that makes sense.
Let's dive into the formula, step by step...
Here is the formula again...
NSS stands for -> Nervous system soothing
BP stands for -> Brain processing
SR stands for -> Schema restructuring
SFL stands for -> Symptom free living
The reason why this works is that the three processes affect each other and could either serve to make each other worse or better. And if you don't know that the three processes exist, then everything you are doing to recover would be based on trial and error. That's like driving blind.
Now, let's break it all down practically...
To help you understand the value of the steps in this section. Please go watch this video of how the nervous system deals with Trauma. This is key to understanding why your body feels so weird after you have been through trauma multiple times. Here's the link...
You see, If you have been living with an overwhelmed nervous system, then your vagus nerve is most likely weakened.
A weakened vagus nerve leads to poor regulation of emotions. Sadly, there is also a cumulative effect. If you do nothing about this overwhelm, your nervous system will become increasingly sensitive, until you find yourself being triggered by any and every little thing.
This will help you gain increasing resilience to carry on living life as you work on your trauma.
Remember that these strategies are cumulative, so every exercise you do builds on the last one.
In fact, it has been my experience that people who master these strategies are often able to stop needing psychiatric medications a lot faster than those who don't.
Here are 2 of the most effective nervous system soothing strategies I have used in my practice.
1. Using the sense of smell.
Interesting fact: Our brain is completely shielded by the bones of the skull. But did you know that the only two holes that go directly to your brain are through your nostrils? Even more interesting is the fact that the two holes are situated near the brain's memory and emotional centres.
Why is this all important?
This infrastructure means we can take advantage of the sense of smell and use it as a powerful antidote to negative emotional tension.
Think of something upsetting. Notice how your body tenses up from thinking of this. Then spend 1 to 2 minutes smelling a scent you like. It is helpful if the sent is connected to some nice experience. Now notice how your body has naturally relaxed from engaging fully with the smell.
This strategy is a really fast way to calm the nerves. But you may need to practise it a few times to get it working.
2. Massaging the "Fossa" in a circular fashion. See the diagram below.
Most people find this to be extremely soothing. Some even experience this strategy stopping them from having a panic attack.
My suggestion would be to make it a habit to practice these types of strategies at least 3 times daily for the best effect. See this link for more nervous system soothing strategies
Remember how we said that the problem with PTSD the brain is not able to process because the processing has been blocked? And how we said the flashbacks and nightmares you keep experiencing are because your brain keeps trying to process?
Well, it turns out that if you can do something to help your brain to start processing, You will experience a drastic reduction in the nightmares and flashbacks.
But there is a caveat... When you start processing issues, your symptoms will get worse first and then get better if you persist with the processing. So, to make brain processing less painful it is crucial to follow these steps...
See the nervous system section above for an explanation of this.
Many people make the mistake of going straight into processing without reducing their stress levels first. The problem with this is that if you try processing when you are already highly stressed, the processing is going to shoot your stress levels through the roof. This can easily trigger panic attacks.
In this case, processing just means going over a trauma memory over and over until the memory loses all its negative emotions. Once that happens, This memory will stop intruding on you.
This ensures you can bring yourself back to a calm mental space so you can continue with living your life with minimal interruption from your emotions.
Finally, we move on to...
You know how we said in the last article that sometimes we lean way too much on certain behaviours because of where we are coming from and how those things can go against us?
These are really schemas at work. Learning to restructure our schemas ensures that we don't keep falling into negative life loops that re-traumatize us over and over.
Schemas are a network of thoughts, beliefs and feelings that our mind associates with something. For example, your schema of a chair could be something like... "A chair is a useful tool for sitting and relaxing." But then if you attend a lecture where they show you evidence that chairs have become worse than smoking cigarettes because lots of people are dying from sitting for too long... Suddenly, your schema for chairs have been changed for life. Now your behaviour around chairs would change somewhat because you become more mindful of how much you are sitting.
So bottom line...
To prevent our past trauma from controlling our lives negatively, we need to apply a similar restructuring process to all the schemas we have developed due to our trauma. so...
I have carefully prepared a quick 3-minute quiz to help you easily Identify schemas you may have developed because of your trauma.
If you have completed the questionnaire already, you should have an email informing you of the results (Please check your spam folder if you can't find it).
This is essential as everything else will be affected if you don't know how to work with your schemas (But please be mindful, some of the things you will discover will shock you).
Once you have received your list of schemas then move to the next step
NSDR stands for: Notice it: Stop it: Do something opposite or different: Review.
In most cases, you don't want to get rid of a schema. You just want to reduce its use.
So you practice...
Noticing whenever you default to using any particular schema.
(For example: Do you give your son everything he asks for? This behaviour could be driven by a schema that makes you feel guilty for saying no. But the more you keep saying yes, the more likely you are to make your son feel entitled to everything.)
So you start practising...
Stopping the behaviour when you notice yourself using it all the time.
Then, you practice...
Doing the opposite.
(For example: You start allowing yourself to say no occasionally)
Then all you have to do is...
Review and repeat.
This is a really simple approach to restructuring our schemas so that we don't keep falling into negative life loops that re-traumatize us over and over.
Trauma doesn’t just stop once we leave a toxic home or environment. It becomes a way of life. This means we may still end up growing up in an unsafe environment as adults.
You could say that childhood trauma is like an invisible scar that is slowly healing over time. But, remember that wounds left untreated can become open sores. If someone does not treat their wounds, they can get infected, and may even die.
It is true that we cannot change the past, but we can learn to live differently in the present and prepare for a happier future. All you have to do is to keep applying the NSS+BP+SR= SFL formula and you'll be set for a better more fulfiling living experience.
Have you been having a hard time dealing with problems and difficulties.
Doubting your ability to succeed... And keeps stress blocking your ability to perform at a high level.
Your nerves are always on edge, your emotions are always easily triggered and this regularly causes you to question everything about yourself and your life...
With Our Take Back Control Program, you will learn healthy coping habits that help you breakdown your “brick wall” of stress and failure.
You can learn to control your thoughts and emotions and gain a clearer sense of direction and purpose. This will help you to take more control of your life... And help you live the life you deserve.
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