Healing From Trauma: How To Move On
By Marie Miguel
Updated December 07, 2018
Reviewer Melinda Santa
Trauma comes in many forms - from childhood bedwetting to emotional abuse to war. The adage, "If you were born, you have trauma," isn't an exaggeration. Unresolved trauma is insidious, affecting how we cope with future stressors. Indeed, most of our responses to stress have been ingrained since childhood yet they define our adulthood. But healing from trauma is possible. Here's how to move on.
Neuroplasticity - The Key To Healing
Your brain has an amazing ability to recover from blunt trauma, penetrative trauma, and even emotional trauma via a process called neuroplasticity, or the ability to create new neural pathways or connections in the brain. There are many free DIY ways to stimulate neuroplasticity, including meditation, mindfulness, and visualization. Also, an experienced counselor can help facilitate the healing process of neuroplasticity.
Remember that childhood trauma is particularly damaging when it comes to brain health because the brain is still developing throughout childhood. Therefore, resolving childhood trauma is vital to achieving optimal brain function and mental well-being.
Opening the Window of Tolerance
According to Dr. Dan Siegel, we are born with a window of tolerance - the upper ledge signifies hyper-arousal and the lower ledge is hypo-arousal. Our goal is to exist within the window of tolerance, where there is an optimal level of arousal, purpose, and motivation. Masterpieces are crafted in the window of tolerance. Within the window of tolerance, physical and mental healing is possible.
Compounding traumas begin to close the window of tolerance. We can become fixed in, or fluctuate between, states of hypo- and hyper-arousal. Symptoms of hypo-arousal include: apathy, depression, isolation, and low motivation. Symptoms of hyper-arousal include: anxiety, muscle tension, racing thoughts, and an inability to relax. Neither state is ideal and both are antithetical to true healing.
But with help from a trauma-informed mental health professional, you can begin to reopen your window of tolerance, leading to better mental and physical health and increased resilience in the face of stress. A counselor, can assist in helping you to identify your triggers so that you can become more aware of your thoughts and feelings towards these windows of tolerance.
Have you ever heard the sayings that anger is like drinking poison and expecting the target of your anger to die? It is true that anger is linked to poor health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease. But forgiveness is difficult. Recognize that true forgiveness does not equal forgetting. It simply means moving on so that it no longer drags you down. Forgiving those associated with past trauma is a key step in overcoming the effects of trauma.
Let's say you have experienced emotional abuse for many years. When we experience trauma, our minds want an explanation - even if there isn't a logical one. When no explanation is given, we invent a story. If you have been emotionally abused, you might start to believe that you are worthless - in line with the words of the abuser. You use the lie concerning your value as an explanation for the inexcusable - abuse. This is part of the reason why abuse can be so difficult to escape.
To overcome trauma, you must recognize your inherent value - through positive, self-esteem building mantras and regular self-care. Some other ways to practice self-care are to create and review positive affirmations, develop a schedule to take time for self and to develop self-love. To combat the effects of past abuse, taking time for regular self-care is a must because it flies in the face of past lies concerning self-value.
Healing from Trauma with the Help of An Online Counselor
Overcoming past trauma can be a difficult journey. An online counselor can tailor a trauma-healing regimen to your individual needs. Contact an experienced counselor today to start your life-changing healing journey!