This is a very educating/enlightening video as to how the brain works in general and by a design that was required in ancient times. It explains both, why we have a negativity bias by nature, which makes it soooo hard to get away from negative experiences. But it also explains – and in a very entertaining and encouraging way, I should add -, how we can begin to “override” these neural patterns that nature seems to have ingrained in us in order for the species to survive. I particularly love the notion of “the law of little things” and the two wolves analogy. So great!
Personally, I used to – take the position that with trauma it’s different, as the physical response to an emotional injury and overwhelming experience is connected to the archaic parts in our brain, often referred to as the “reptile brain” – and those are at the level of reflexes, never even getting to those “higher brain realms” like e.g. the neocortex, where we actually process stimuli (I realize in retrospect that the reason for setting my mind so firmly on the opposite side of enabling happiness for myself was from a need for validation, which I thought could only come from outside of me – but why would I make myself dependent of other people again…?). However, since I didn’t succeed in getting access to classical trauma therapy and just couldn’t bring myself to going down the inpatient route, what I’ve been practicing and applying is rigidly consistent and immediate cognitive intervention after a triggering situation happened. This starts with lining up at the cash register in the supermarket and goes on to situations in my current abode, where my landlady often walks by that window that is to my immediate left from where I sit at my desk. Such things, which don’t even register with other people, have – or had – the quality of triggers for me. In the past, those triggers actually replayed the full intensity of the original traumatizing situation(s).
But over time, I have noticed a decline in the outcome, i.e. the physical responses, to those triggers from consistently “soothing” myself right after they happened. I am pleased to notice some substantial – and hopefully sustainable – results. At the supermarket and when lining up, I no longer notice accelerated pulse, breathing or more pronounced outcomes, like e.g. sweating or anything like that. When riding the commuter train, I get to modulate my previously typical and pronounced stress responses to where they are probably comparable to what any random person is feeling, which may be best described as being annoyed rather than feeling terror.
I’m not sure about the third group of triggers, which happens upon unexpected physical approximation by someone else. And I’m not all that sure, whether I should work on those, too, as they do have the important function of looking out for myself. In other words: If I “deactivated” those triggers as well, I become a sitting duck kind of person. While I thankfully live in a very peaceful environment with a low crime rate, I don’t think I should go all against nature and her design in that regard.
And as far as feeling upbeat and in better spirits as above video promotes, summer and sun – and by that I mean long hours of sunlight – do their wonderful part on me. But other than that, I think above linked video is spot on in saying that focussing harder and remembering good experiences slowly but steadily prepares the brain to change – even right down to its physical level and thus begins to produce healthier levels of “happiness” neurotransmitters. I have noticed this to be true, as well. Hence, I’ve incorporated watching a funny sitcom episode or reading funny articles into my daily routines – and over time, I became so much better that I found myself laughing out loud from the stimuli I exposed myself to.
Like I said, I am not sure just yet, how sustainable all this is. I guess I’m going to find out once I start taking small next steps as in trying to become a little more productive again, by e.g. offering my help with a nearby movie theater on an initial volunteer, free-of-charge basis and maybe filling in here and there for a few hours. The point being though: I will agree that memories of emotional injuries and unprocessed material must be processed in some way in order to find the validation everyone has a basic need for. And whether or not you seek professional help for that or not is probably up to everyone themselves. Since I didn’t have that option – or only temporarily so and not exactly taylored to trauma – I had to find a way of doing it myself. It is beginning to look and feel as if this has yielded some significant results. Bottomline: It’s about taking the driver’s seat in your life and simply walk away from the “assigned” or learned victim mentality. It requires strength and effort. But it can be done. I’d like to promote the idea of reclaiming the self-worth that may have been taken away. It’s a rocky road for sure and it is unfair to see that others don’t have to undergo this journey. But we can get there. I, for one, had always set my mind on “belonging” again. And I might be inches away from actually getting there.
(The sharing of this excerpt is meant as an encouragement, not bragging or anything along those lines)