It is every living beings right to be happy but so many of us are constrained by pain. We wade through our lives every day, doing our best to move forward, create, inspire and achieve. However if you have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences or have experienced some kind of shock trauma such as a car accident, assault or the death of a loved one then life can be forever changed. Sometimes our suffering shows up over a longer period of time such as a challenging job, a child with a disability or a relationship breakdown. This kind of pain creeps up on us leaving our rational mind grasping at threads for when and why we started feeling so bad.
Bridled by our burdens and unable to release them on our own we find ourselves battling symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, agitation and even chronic physical pain. Sometimes we can successfully numb out it out for a while with exercise, food, alcohol or work but after a while it bubbles back up again.
So we get busy pushing it down because we know what to do to push it down, it temporarily makes us feel better and we feel we have some sense of mastery over the situation.
I call this pattern putting an ice cap on a volcano.
It looks quite calm on the surface.
And it does work for a while …. I know I perfected my own ice cap for many many years. However there is always a point where the ice melts when we aren’t looking and we find ourselves back battling the same old sensations and emotions. This happens not because don’t want to deal with it it’s that we just don’t know what to do with our pain, how to get rid of it and sometimes we just don’t have the time to deal with it.
So we go back to what we know and we shut it in and we shut it down. But in the shutting down of our pain we also shut down our joy, our creativity and often our ability to connect.
In March this year the World Health Organization announced that depression was now the leading cause of illness and disability world wide. In the last century our awareness of mental health concerns along with our ability to treat these conditions with talk therapy and pharmaceuticals has come a long way. Yet clearly our current approaches to treatment are barely containing let alone alleviating anxiety, stress or depression.
Thankfully pioneering therapists such as Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Levine and David Bercelli are making huge in roads into successfully releasing stress and trauma. They are highlighting that while we may reflect upon and interpret our pain psychologically our actual experience of this pain is first felt and then held viscerally in the body itself. So to get relief from our inner angst we must engage mind-body practices to find true and lasting relief.
Traumatic experiences are processed by the brain differently to pleasurable experiences. When we are feeling safe our brain collects thousands of bits of sensory data, associates them with memories and feelings and in turn connects these experiences to like experiences in the past allowing a person to create meaning related to their experiences.
In traumatic situations, when the nervous and other functional systems of the body are overwhelmed, these bits of data are taken in as fragments. The fragments are stored as sensory experiences however they remain compartmentalized and unprocessed. Without an association to memory, emotion and meaning these fragments remain trapped resulting in an internal state of chaos. It is these chaotic, unprocessed sensations that create anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares and so on.
Therefore, a traumatized individual may not have any memory or only be able to recall segments of an experience rather than the experience in its entirety.
Likewise it makes sense that as we process our pain bit by bit we find new parts of our pain as we progress. This in itself can become overwhelming and we may interpret this healthy unfolding as sinking deeper and deeper into a terrible place.
This is where a good therapist comes in.
Your therapist will support you as you explore your confounding inner terrain. They will compassionately support you, help you to understand and integrate the fragments of your experience. If you are stuck in a difficult place they will help you experience that pain and walk along side you till you get to the other side. They will help you piece together the disorganized fragments and support you while you integrate your experiences.
If you are in a terrifying place they will sustain you with ways to soothe and self regulate so that you can continue to find your way through. They will provide you with the tools to sort and sift through layers of pain to get to the roots of your distress and help you construct solid new foundations to build a life that you want to be in. In doing so you discover that you can transcend your pain and that you have always had the power to transform your being inside of you.
Sometimes though there are times when no matter how much we talk about what has happened to us we just don’t seem to be able to move beyond it. I have heard many people describe themselves almost brimming and bursting with emotional pain.
When people have experienced significant shock trauma then talking about it can be even more traumatizing. This is especially true for emergency service personnel who are repeatedly exposed to traumatic events. In these instances its important to know how to safely access and release the sensations embedded in the nervous system.
An even better therapist will help you gain control over your nervous system
In my practice I utilise a revolutionary process for releasing tension from the nervous system called Trauma (and Tension) Releasing Exercises or TRE. The process of TRE uses a series of simple exercises to engage the body’s innate tremoring response. These neurogenic tremors allow the body to discharge the excess energy that accumulates from stress, tension and trauma. The simplicity and ease that the body can free itself from these unwanted sensations is astounding. After one session people report a significant reduction in anxiety, improved sleep, reduced muscular tension and enhanced resilience.
So if you have somehow lost your happy along the way or have always struggled to find it then find a skilled therapist. You don’t have to tough this one out or go it alone.
Whether you are wanting to find greater ease in life, let go of the past or find your way through a difficult time I am here to support you. Call me for a free 15 minute consultation to discuss the ways in which I can help. Finding greater ease than ever before is often simpler than we think. So give me a call on 0419 101 665 or send me at email firstname.lastname@example.org