Thursday, April 20, 2017

Trauma and Reactive Responses

I had posted an earlier blog entry on this topic and a reader asked me to clarify this.  So, I thought I would explain more what I think this quote means from the book by Daniel Siegel, Parenting From The Inside Out.

I'm stating this from my own knowledge and what I see in it, not as a professional may view it.  I just wanted to be clear on that point.

See Blog post on Reactive Response 10/26/09

When we go through experiences in life, whether it is trauma and child abuse, or just difficult situations, our life becomes filtered and framed from those experiences.  They become a big part of who we are.  They shape how we view life and the world around us.  They become how we see everything.

Through healing, your focus is on reclaiming those moments and bringing back who you truly are deep inside.  Often, this is buried as a result of the trauma or experience without the individual even recognizing it is buried.  Each traumatic experience cements over our true self, and until we start to chip away at what is buried beneath the layers, what we have become on the outside is who we are in that moment.

Stuck in reactive responses...

As a result, we're stuck in these reactive responses.  I see reactive responses as how we deal with situations based upon the self that has been altered because of the traumatic experience.  It is automatic and happens in the subconscious mind, most likely as a way to survive in that moment of horror.

When a situation gets too difficult to deal with, the brain goes into protect and survive mode so that we can keep functioning.  Its goal in my view is to keep us alive and functioning at all costs.  So, if it has to bury something deep within our mind, it will do it.

Our choices after those horrendous moments, though, are colored and filtered and judged based upon what we know or we think we know up to this point in life.  It is reactive in that rather than dealing with the current situation as many might do, we're dealing with it as a result of our past experience.

We rob ourselves of so much...

If we continue down the path of reactive response, we rob ourselves of so much.  However, I believe that no matter what we've been through in life, all humans tend to be reactive based upon their life to that point.  We truly see things in the way we were taught or shown, or what we observed.  It provides the foundation and basis for our current and future moments.

For me, if I hear the loud bass thump sound coming from a car or a source around me, it immediately makes me want to silence that sound or person in any way I can.  It is a reactive response because it draws upon a very horrible moment in my childhood where I couldn't stop the screams of my kittens being killed.  It is an automatic response that has shaped me into who I am in this moment.

I'm not saying I can't change this reactive response in myself.  I have really worked on it and am doing much better, but nevertheless it is still how I respond.

Now, I can focus on saying that I will train my mind to react differently.  Unfortunately when these moments such as the example I described show up, the response has already happened before I can consciously think about doing anything different.

I go deep into healing work...

Instead, I go deep into the body part of healing work, and work to allow that horror of that trauma to come forward and out.  It happens little by little, piece by piece.  I do not believe it is something that you can truly heal in the blink of an eye.  When it is that difficult of a past experience, it takes time for the mind and neural pathways to release and rewrite.

With reactive responses, our choices now become measured on past experiences, whether we want to always acknowledge this or not.  If each one of us looked deep within, I think we would all see that - but with horrible experiences and trauma, none of these things are easy to observe.  The fear, anxiety and despair come up rapidly when we try to expose them.

Learning to deal with reactive responses is not about desensitizing you to what happened.  I think that only buries things further.  It may possibly be helpful in the immediate short term, but if you don't work to dive deep into the cellular memories of this through bodywork such as Unified Therapy, you're only masking the situation.

We all react to current events based upon our past.  It is in awareness, growth and consciousness that we come to more fully know who we are from the deepest levels within our mind and our BODY.  What the mind stores, so does the body.  What the body stores, so does the mind.

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