Healing Trauma: How To Start Feeling Safe In Your Own Body

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In this episode we discuss trauma and how it is stored in the body. What causes trauma and what does it do to your body? We explore whether the rational, thinking mind can deal with trauma and look at some of the ways you can deal with traumatic experiences in your life. What are the best strategies for feeling safe, feeling calm, and feeling in control of your own body? How do you release trauma from your body and feel safe? We discuss all of this and much more with our guest Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk.Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk is a Boston-based psychiatrist and The New York Times best-selling author of The Body Keeps the Score. He was previously the President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, and Medical Director of the Trauma Center. He has taught at universities around the world and his work has been featured in TIME, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and more!

  • What is Trauma? 
  • How do we define and understand trauma in today’s society?
  • It makes you want to forget, it makes you want to push it away, it makes you want to erase it. 
  • Trauma is something that is so horrendous that you can’t cope with it, it’s too much to deal with 
  • Trauma renders you helpless and makes you feel like there is no way out 
  • Helplessness is an absolute precondition for a traumatic experience 
  • Our society continuously ignores how trauma is formed and created – pushing it under the rug and hiding from it
  • Trauma is not a story – trauma is not a memory about the past. Trauma changes the brain. Trauma sits within you and within your body. 
  • People experiencing trauma keep behaving and reacting as if they were stuck in that experience 
  • When we are traumatized – the brain often cannot process it and the body “stores it” – the body gets stuck in a state of hyper alertness, the mind gets stuck in a state of hyper-alertness 
  • The perceptual situation in the brain becomes rewired to be on “high alert”
  • Your body, your mind, your entire system gets frozen or stuck in “fight or flight” mode 
  • When you’re traumatized, it’s very hard to learn or integrate new experiences – thats what makes treating trauma  so difficult 
  • Trauma is not typically rationally processed, it goes into the irrational part of the brain and your body gets locked into a place of constantly reacting as if you’re in a sense of danger 
  • One of the most tragic results of trauma is people try to shut the feeling down and end up shutting down their ability to feel – or they turn to drugs, alcohol, and pharmaceuticals 
  • Studies show that yoga is more effective than any drug that has been studied for solving trauma 
  • There is promising research around psychotropics (psylocbin and MDMA) for trauma relief
  • Neurofeedback is another promising solution for trauma 
  • Self regulation – learning to control your own physiology using ancient Chinese and Indian methods – research is starting to show these solutions help as mind body interventions to solve trauma in the body 
  • Exposure treatment misunderstands how to treat real trauma 
  • It’s not the memory its that your brain/body – entire system – is locked in a state of being “high alert” – and that these mind body interventions are some of the best ways to help people feel “Safe” inside their own bodies 
  • Once your body feels safe, you can allow yourself to slowly go to experiences from the past that caused the body to be put into a traumatic state 
  • Homework: Take care of your body. Develop a loving relationship to taking care of your body.

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2 comments

  1. Thank you so much for your information. I am 55, I’ve been navigating the mental health system for 25 years. Despite these years of seeking help, I am now in an adult foster care home.
    My past few years have been an challenging long spiral downward. I don’t feel I can heal from recurrent childhood trauma. I liken myself to “the Phoenix”, although I haven’t found a way to rise again. Your work brings me a small ray of hope. ☮️

    • HI Cami I am really pleased that the articles I present or write in my blog have given you some hope. I understand how difficult it is to overcome trauma from childhood abuse. It can be overwhelming and you feel like you will never make it. Take it one day at a time, one therapy session at a time and slowly you will be that Phoenix rising from the ashes I promise. As I write this I am in a mental health clinic for the second time this year for suicidality so I understand your struggle. Somedays it just seems too hard but we have to believe the abusers are not going to win. We can’t let them. Fight back in any small way you can. All the best Erin

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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