Stress and trauma constantly trick us into thinking they are temporary moments that we can ignore because eventually they’ll just “go away”. They masquerade as a myriad of emotions that, at the time feel…well, normal. They worm their way in to our nervous systems so that we don’t recognize their origin. We just figure we feel lousy because of the immediate circumstances we’re experiencing…kind of like indigestion. How can we shift to our true purpose in life by overcoming stress and trauma at their sources?
I used to blame others for my own past traumas, particularly being bullied as a child. I can recall ruminating over offenses which turned up my adrenaline and gave me a false sense of energy, particularly when I was doing some kind of repetitive chore. It felt good to blame someone else for their “terrible injustice.” And so I continually raised my stress level and re-traumatized myself by reliving the past. And I was really good at it. Ask any of my therapists!
By reliving my stress I distracted myself from my real work for many years: to reduce my stress and recover from trauma in order to clear out the cobwebs and move forward with my life. Knowing what was responsible for my trauma or stress is a good first step, but that is all it was. From that moment on we’re called by something deep in our souls to pay attention and look for the next good thing in our life and ultimately take responsibility for our recovery.
Stress and trauma caused me to engage in transference. I idealized individuals whom I would emulate in order to feel better about myself. We may be grasping the perfect parent or sibling, for that fulfilling career, for the authority to change systems, or for possessions that will make us feel secure. This transfer of energy to hoped-for outcomes distracts us from the sources of stress and trauma in our mind and heart, where our dis-ease actually hides and is crying out for healing through our physical responses.
By not addressing my past traumas I was setting up myself for failure. They clouded who I am and made me focus on what I did and was to accomplish in life. In this way I failed to be my true self for many years and the decisions I made during this time were somewhat skewed to self-interest. And when my desires did not manifest, it was a simple next step to feel like a failure as a person, exactly what stress and trauma aim for.
What is stress? For me stress is a dissonance between my heart and my head. This dissonance causes heightened emotional responses to little annoyances making me feel victimized by daily life. My rational mind is convinced that life ought to be different. My feeling, spiritual heart tells me just to show up let life unfold. Arrgh! Trying to reconcile the two can cause physical, emotional, and spiritual pain: stress. Such was the case until I discovered and neutralized the source of the stress I felt in my body.
What is trauma? Trauma as I experienced it was a series of incidents that shook the foundation of my highly sensitive life. My preconception that if I were a nice young man others would treat me likewise was smashed. I shut down by raising my emotional drawbridges and built higher walls and deeper moats to defend me. I lived the next ten or more years out of a role I invented for myself. I refused to trust love. My hyper-vigilance caused me to take offence readily and to nurse resentments.
Victims of trauma and stress may also experience a kind of amnesia whereby they don’t even recall the original incident. Instead they develop an “affect”, a kind of mood that develops into a full-blown personality trait. Depression, anger/rage, fear, a short-temper, bigotry, judgment, melancholy, aggression, and other dis-eases such as sociopathy, narcissism, self-wounding, eating disorders, addictions, or other borderline personality disorders may all be symptoms of an originating trauma that the victim can no longer easily identify but that lives in their body as an emotional tumor.
Fortunately I found that I could not continue to ignore my stress and trauma by simply explaining it away. I discovered that I could go back to original incidents and literally rewrite the way in which my emotions showed up in my body, mind, and heart. This has freed me to be more attentive and present to my purpose in life. The gift of Somatic Intuitive Training™ has reduced my stress and brought recovery to my trauma at their sources.
All photos copyrighted by Andrew Ciccarelli