Life is full of up and downs. We don’t worry about the ups, rarely even fully acknowledge them. They just happen to us. We’re glad about it and move forward. For the downs, however, we often remain stuck. A traumatic event happens and it hits us out of the blue. Life as we know it changes within moments, and we feel like we can’t go on.
Trauma Healing is very complex, and it takes time, patience and compassion to work through it. It’s a long journey we now must take. (So let’s talk about a few options on how you can deal with it) In this blog, I want to offer a few suggestions on how you can deal with it.
There are many ways to work on our traumas, including therapy, hypnosis, guided journeys, soul retrieval, somatic therapy, EMDR, and so on. Writing can be an option as well on this path.
Writing is a powerful tool. Do you know the saying “a pen is mightier than a sword?”
Words are powerful, carry great meaning, and should be chosen carefully. People have been destroyed by nothing but words, careers shattered by them, relationships broken by only using words. So be mindful of the way you speak and how you express yourself.
Yet, words also raise people, relationships can be mended, and words can bring healing.
Trauma or emotional upsets are getting more attention in the past years, and people find more tools to help them through these difficult times in their life. Not everybody in the world has access to therapy, and sometimes we need more tools, even if therapy is available. It’s always a good idea to look at alternative as well as additional options to work on ourselves.
We also took a step forward in acknowledging that trauma and PTSD occur not only when experiencing war. Trauma can happen when you have seen violence or experienced it yourself. Betrayal, abuse, or neglect can also cause trauma. Whenever you experience a high-stress situation and can’t shake it off, when you are overwhelmed and you can’t access your usual coping strategies, you might experience trauma.
In these situations, our bodies release cortisol and adrenaline. This is the body's automatic way of preparing to respond to danger, and we have no control over it.
The effects of this hormone release can show up as:
- Freeze response - feeling paralysed or unable to move.
- Fight response - fighting, struggling or protesting.
- Flight response - hiding or moving away.
- Fawn response - trying to please someone who harms you.
Those behaviors often continue long after the trauma is over and can affect your mind, body, soul, and spirit.
If you have experienced any kind of trauma, either in the past or recently, you probably realize what a vast effect it has on our life. It is not just the experience itself, but it affects all areas of our life. It can change our entire belief system, our trust in people, it can impact our relationships with family, friends, or partners. Depending on your experience, it can also influence your finances.
To ease the symptoms of a traumatic event, we need to face it. Very early on, we might still be in shock, perhaps even in denial. And to some degree, this is helpful. Our brain protects us and avoids getting the full hit of it. By distracting yourself in the early days of trauma, you give yourself the option to deal with it in smaller portions, so to say. But when you think you are ready, you can try the following exercise.
In expressive writing, you sit down to write for approximately 15 minutes a day. You can write longer if you wish to, or you set yourself a timer. Find a space where you feel safe and have little to no distractions. Try to do this exercise for about 4 consecutive days. It doesn’t matter if you write with a pen on paper or on a computer. You also don’t need to worry about spelling or grammar. These pages you are going to write are for your eyes only. If you are worried that someone might find it, you can even write with your finger in the air. If 15 minutes are too long, you can switch it up, either by re-writing what you have already written and use different expressions or words, or by adding doodles or drawings around your text.
What can you write about?
You can ask yourself the following questions:
- Why is this situation bothering me so much?
- How is the situation related to my past? Is there a pattern to it?
- How is this important for my relationships in life?
- How is this related to other issues that are bothering me?
- How is this affecting my work?
You can write about the same thing during the 4 days, or you choose a different situation each day. It is your choice.
After each session, ask yourself if it was helpful. It’s normal to feel bad after writing about difficult experiences. Sadness, anger, remorse, confusion, resentment will rise to the surface. Allow yourself to feel them.
If you continuously feel worse after each session or even still after weeks or months, it is possible that you are digging up something that isn’t ready to be faced yet, only focus on what is already on your mind. It could also indicate that you need additional help.
The reason for doing this exercise is to put upsetting experiences into a language that you can understand and work with. It slows down the obsessive thoughts. By writing them down, you are able to bring some structure into it. Patterns will emerge and you will be able to identify them.
If you remain stuck in trauma, your brain cannot receive new information. When you suffer from post-traumatic stress, you are more likely to view current events through the lens of trauma, leading you to perceive things inaccurately and overreact or under-react.
This exercise might not be pleasant in the moment, but down the road, it can be helpful in managing your anxiety and your stress. The memories of a situation let you believe you are still in danger. Your brain is having trouble distinguishing between the past and the present. With this exercise, you can better navigate the landscape of your emotional distress. You can bring some distance between yourself and the situation by becoming the narrator of the story, not your main character.
For some, it can also be helpful to meditate for a few minutes after a writing session. Other might wish to do a quick cleansing ritual. You could cut the cords, take a shower, do an aura cleanse, or even burn the paper you just wrote. Do what feels right for you.
You can also expand this exercise and turn your story into fiction. Either a poem, a short story, or write an entire novel, if that is something you always wanted to do.
I will share more tips on that in a future article.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me.
I hope your world is kind