Consider 8 Ways to Heal:
1. Psychotherapy can help identify past trauma. Steven may talk about his father; and how that relationship gets played out in his life. Suzanne will have to deal realistically with her deceased mother. She may have been loved, but she was hurt as well.
2. Grief requires dealing with your deceased parent; warts and all. You accept that you were traumatized; you may even forgive. But, you become determined not to let those wound ruin your life today.
3. Identify your triggers. Everyone who’s been traumatized has triggers and responses. Get to know yours. For Steven, it’s hard assignment that puts him back in the headset of a worried ten year old. He freezes. For Suzanne, it simply can someone who raises his or her voice. She is, once again, like a six year old overwhelmed by an enraged mother. She runs.
4. The Trigger-Response recreates the past. When you run, freeze or attack, you end up recreating and therefore, re-enforcing the past. You freeze and people think you are cold and stonewalling. If you run, nothing will last. And, if you rage in response to being triggered, you are doing what was done to you. People will withdraw or be injured; not a good outcome.
5. Good therapy also helps you to rediscover your strengths. We are not just damaged creatures, but also living beings with power and talents. Many people discover strength they never knew they had in treatment. This, in turn, gives you more motivation to overcome the trauma of your youth. With competent psychotherapy you may be able to gain the strength to deal with being triggered, without harming others – or yourself. Happiness is that important.
6. Alternative treatments like EMDR, Somatic Experiencing and DBT may help as well. These treatments help with muting the triggers that are neurologically embedded in your brain. Remember that the fight, flight and freeze response has an evolutionary purpose. It protects the organism from dangerous situations. You may need specialized expertise to overcome this programming.
7. Often trauma is found alongside other psychiatric disorders like Anxiety or Depression. An intelligent use of psychiatric medications can reduce the trigger-response effect and give you an opportunity to create a future response that is not dictated by your past.
8. Spirituality can be invaluable. No one can tell you HOW to be spiritual, but for many, some form of faith can truly detoxify. (As long as you are not in a faith that makes you more anxious and burdened.) People may have hurt you, but a new life is yours for the taking. Look up at the stars. Smell the fresh air. Sense the opportunity in every moment. And, know that you are part of something larger than you. It settles the soul.
The Power of Letting Go: We often speak of the dead with the words;
“He (or She) Should Rest in Peace.” Yes, they should.
Yet, we often don’t think about the ways that people who are gone still impact us, even though they are not here. Your mom or dad may be gone, but their hurt remains. And, you have some choice to live a better life despite what happened to you.
Eugene O’Neill opened the door. The past does affect the present – and the future.
But, contemporary psychology opens the door wider. You can be free from your past.
It starts with consciousness. Then, the journey is all up to you.