Trauma symptoms show themselves differently from person to person. For many people, symptoms include panic, fear, and anxiety. You might feel like you’re losing control, in danger, or even outside of your body. These symptoms are normal. This is your body’s way of protecting you from what it thinks might be a danger. This does not make the symptoms become any less uncomfortable. I’m going to teach you one way to calm yourself down or ground yourself when you begin to feel panicky or out of touch.
Grounding through the 5 senses is a quick way to bring you back into the here and now. Basically, you are paying attention to what is outside of your body and getting out of your own head to distract yourself from the panic.
First, look around you and name 5 things you see. For example, “I see a coffee mug, a painting on the wall, a chair, black shoes, and a cell phone.”
Second, pay attention to your body and name 4 things you feel. It could be the chair holding you up or the texture of your clothing.
Third, pay attention to the sounds around you and name 3 things you hear in your environment.
Next, notice the smells around you and label them. You may have to move around for this part.
Lastly, notice any flavors that may be lingering in your mouth. If you don’t taste anything, name something you’d like to taste in the moment.
When you are looking for things around you, you are unable to focus on your trigger which will bring you back down or “ground you.” Try this out and let me know what you think.
Many of us were raised with the notion that kids are meant “to be seen and not heard,” meaning ‘don’t speak until you are spoken to.” While this idea may have only meant to keep the volume down at the Thanksgiving table, it can have negative ramifications on a child’s psyche.
Worse still, there are many children who suffer from Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). These children were raised to believe that not only do their ideas not matter, but neither do their feelings or needs.
Though the words may never have been said, the actions, or lack of, announced loud and clear: You don’t matter.
These children grow up to become adults who still believe they don’t matter, and that they shouldn’t burden others with their needs or feelings. But this cycle of worthlessness can be broken.
Here are 3 ways you can heal from childhood emotional neglect:
- Embrace Your Needs and Emotions
You most likely grew up believing your own needs and emotions were the enemy. You may have even been made to feel ashamed because of them.
In order to heal you must embrace your needs and emotions and invite them to play an active role in your life. You can do this by listening to yourself and honoring the way you feel. When understood and managed, emotions can propel us and help facilitate positive change.
- Invite People into Your Life
Growing up, you might have felt like adults were the enemy. After all, it was the adults in your life that made you feel worthless. As an adult, you may have a natural instinct to keep people at a safe distance, to “protect” yourself. But, in order to heal, you have to stop pushing people away and, instead, invite them into your life. When we form relationships with genuine, caring and honest people, we feel good about ourselves while adding value to our lives.
- Get to Know Who You Really Are
Survivors of CEN all have one thing in common: they don’t really know themselves. That’s because the people in their lives who should know them the best, their family, never really took the time to get to know them.
But now is the time for you to fully recognize the truth, you are absolutely worth knowing and it is your responsibility to get to know yourself. Knowing who you are, what you like, want, need, love, value, desire in this life will give you a firm foundation from which to propel yourself into an awesome future.
Recovering from any kind of emotional trauma is not easy. It is a personal journey that will contain many highs and lows. But taking the journey, one step at a time, will lead you to a wonderful life, one that you deserve.
If you or a loved one is suffering from CEN and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
It’s natural to feel down or anxious from time to time. What’s not natural, however, is prolonged feelings of hopelessness and despair. When these emotions grab hold, and won’t let go, it is likely you may have depression. Depression makes every day a constant challenge. You no longer enjoy life as you once did. Just getting out of bed can feel overwhelming.
But, through education and therapy, you can overcome depression and get back to the life you were meant to live.
If you’re unsure of whether you are suffering from depression, read on to learn 4 common signs of the disease.
Signs of Depression
How can you tell if you are depressed? It may seem like an odd question, but a surprising number of people do not recognize that they may be suffering from depression. While some signs are obvious, others can be subtle.
Every individual will manifest symptoms in a different way, so it’s important to recognize any changes in your behavior. With this in mind, here are four signs you might be struggling with depression.
Changes in Weight
Depression can affect individuals in different ways. Some people may find they have no appetite at all and, before long, lose a significant amount of weight. Others may find their desire for food increases and they easily gain weight.
Changes in Sleep Cycles
As with a person’s appetite, the changes to one’s sleep cycle can also go in one of two directions. You may notice you feel lethargic and want nothing more than to sleep all day. Then again, you may find you can’t fall asleep and are restless all night long.
Anger and Irritability
It has been said that anger is depression turned inward. If you suddenly find yourself with a short fuse, and things that used to not bother you now cause you to fly off the handle, it may be a sign you need some help.
Many people don’t realize that depression can manifest itself physically. It is common for sufferers to feel sick to their stomach with whole body aches. Some may find they seem to have a cold or flu that won’t go away, while others may notice their chronic conditions, such as arthritis, are exacerbated by depression.
It is important to recognize these signs so you may seek treatment as soon as possible. While depression may feel like a life sentence, reaching out for help will put you on the path toward joy and peace once again.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Flashbacks are our brain’s way of processing traumatic events that we’ve experienced. But what tends to happen is, our subconscious goes to our storage cabinet to access some important memories regarding the event, and everything sort of tumbles out of the cabinet all at once. This falling out or flashback experience can feel almost as traumatic as the initial event.
Flashbacks usually happen without warning. Most result from a “triggering” that occurs by an external experience. Triggers are typically sensory-based experiences that manifest via smells, sounds, tastes, textures that remind the person of the traumatic event. The smell of cologne can remind someone of their perpetrator. The sound of fireworks or a car backfiring can remind a soldier of gunfire.
Living with flashbacks is very difficult, but there are some ways you can work through these disturbing events:
Remind yourself that you are safe and having a flashback. Tell yourself as many times as necessary that these are only memories, the event is in the past, until you can feel yourself begin to calm.
2. Empower Yourself
Sometimes using your five senses can help you to be in the present moment. If one sense it causing the flashback – your sense of smell for example – use your other senses to place yourself in the actual current environment. The tactile experience of stamping your feet on the ground can remind yourself that you are free to get away from any situation that has become uncomfortable for you.
As soon as we become fearful or panicked, our breathing becomes shallow and erratic. This only exacerbates the stress we feel in that moment because our body is literally panicking from a lack of oxygen. In these fearful moments, when we slow our breathing and take deeper and deeper breaths, we actually signal to our brain and body that everything is okay.
4. Honor the Experience
The initial trauma was awful, so it’s perfectly reasonable for you to want to move on “NOW!” However, you should understand that the body needs to go through this process and experience a full range of emotions. Honor the experience and yourself for having gotten through it.
5. Find Support
It’s important that you let loved ones know about your flashbacks so they can help you through the process. You may also want to seek the guidance of a professional mental health therapist who can offer coping strategies.
If you or a loved one is suffering from flashbacks and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch, I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
Quick question: Do you like yourself?
When asked this question, most people respond by saying something like, “Of course I like myself.” While their words say they like themselves, what do their actions say?
Are you someone who’s comfortable in their own skin? Are you happy with your appearance, or are you constantly comparing yourself to others, wishing you could be more like them? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? A superstar, or someone who doesn’t quite live up to your own expectations?
The thing is, our self-esteem is based on how we feel about ourselves, right now in this moment. Sure, it’s okay to strive to become a better version of ourselves, so long as we accept this current version, flaws and all.
If you’re someone who is overly self-critical, here are 5 ways you can learn to like yourself better:
1. Enjoy Your Accomplishments
Some people are so focused on everything that’s wrong with them, they never take a look at what’s right. When you’ve done something well, it’s important that you admit this success and enjoy it.
It doesn’t have to be something huge, either. It could be that you made a really delicious lasagna. Allow yourself the pleasure of enjoying every single bite, and happily receive any compliments from those you cooked for.
2. Understand That No One is Perfect
If you’ve been comparing yourself to other people, it’s time for you to stop and realize that no one is perfect. Not the models you see on the cover of magazines, nor the actors in the movies. They have professional makeup artists and are lit perfectly Heck, most of them have been photoshopped.
Not even the so-called perfect among us are actually perfect. The sooner you can accept this fact the sooner you can relax and like who you are.
3. Have Patience with Yourself
Perhaps there are things about yourself that you would like to change. Do you want to lose weight, get healthier, learn a new language?
Often we hate ourselves for not reaching impossible goals we have set for ourselves. If there are goals you would like to reach, be realistic in setting timelines and be patient with yourself.
4. Look at Your Past with a Kind Eye
Sometimes we don’t like ourselves because of past actions and behaviors. It’s important to give yourself some slack. When you were young, you may not have always acted kindly toward loved ones or strangers. Maybe you acted selfishly more often than you care to admit. But this is a part of being young.
The best thing to do is embrace your past, warts and all, and see what you can learn from your actions and behaviors.
5. Like “Most” of Yourself
You may never like 100% of yourself, and that’s okay. Strive to like 80% or 90%. You can still live an incredibly happy life when you think ‘only’ 85% of you is awesome.
A healthy self-esteem is important to our overall well-being, but getting there can be difficult, especially if you’ve suffered from a low self-esteem your entire life. Working with a therapist can be very beneficial. Someone who is impartial and completely new to you can help you gain clarity and a new perspective on yourself and your life.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
When was the last time you heard from your inner critic? You know, that voice in your head that constantly judges you, puts you down and compares you to others. The one that tells you you’re not good enough or smart enough and says things you would never dream of saying to another person.
Now you may think this inner critic, while annoying, is relatively harmless. But this is simply not the case. This inner critical voice limits you and stops you from living the life you truly desire. It hinders your emotional well-being and, if left unchecked, can even lead to depression or anxiety.
Here are some ways you can silence that inner critic and stop beating yourself up.
- Give it Attention
That’s right, in order to gain control over your inner critic you have to know that it exists. Most of our thinking is automatic. In other words, we don’t give our thoughts much thought. We barely notice a critical thought has passed. Give attention to your thoughts, all of them. This will help you recognize the critical voice.
Here are some emotional clues the critic has reared its ugly head: whenever you feel doubt, guilt, shame, and worthlessness. These are almost always signs of the critic at work.
- Separate Yourself from Your Inner Critic
Your inner critic is like a parasite, feeding off you. You were not born with this parasite but acquired it along the way. Your inner critic hopes it can hide and blend in, and that you’ll think ITS thoughts are your own.
You have to separate yourself from this parasite. One way to do that is to give your critic a name. Have fun with this naming. You could call your inner critic anything from “Todd” to “Miss. Annoying Loudmouth.” It doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you learn to separate it from your authentic self.
- Talk Back
In order to take the power away from your inner critic, you’ve got to give it a taste of its own medicine. As soon as you recognize your inner critic is speaking to you, tell it to shut up. Tell it that the jig is up, that you know it is a big, fat liar, and that you want it to go away. If you want to really make this voice recoil, tell it you are choosing to be kind to yourself from now on.
Self-compassion to an inner critic is like garlic to a vampire.
- Create a New Inner Voice
If you want to defeat an enemy, you need to have a powerful ally on your side. It’s important at this juncture to create an even more powerful inner voice. One that is on your side and acts as your BFF.
To create this new voice, start noticing the good things about yourself. No matter what that nasty critic said about you, the truth is you have fantastic traits and abilities. Start focusing on those. Yes, it will be hard at first to let yourself see you in a positive light, but the more you do it, the easier it will get.
Life is short. To have the most fulfilling one possible, we have to stop wasting time on beating ourselves up. Take these 4 steps and learn to quiet that inner critic. Your best you is waiting to be celebrated.
Some people’s inner critic is stronger than others. Sometimes the greatest ally you can have in your corner is an impartial third party, a therapist who can see you for who you really are.
If you or a loved one could use some help defeating your inner critic and would like to explore therapy, get in touch with me. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
No one is ever prepared for a tragedy. In fact, most of us go through our lives believing that tragedies happen to other people.
When people do experience a distressing or life-threatening event, such as a car accident, natural disaster, or terrorist attack, they often develop extreme anxiety or PTSD. Many develop ongoing problems with their personal relationships and their own self-esteem.
Everyone deals with trauma in their own way. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to respond to a tragic or terrifying event. Don’t let anyone, not even yourself, tell you that you should respond in a certain way.
Having said that, there are steps you can take to begin to heal and regain control of your life.
Accept Your Feelings
Ignoring your feelings of fear, shock, rage, terror, confusion, or guilt will only slow your recovery. In the moment, you may feel you must avoid your emotions. But, whether you accept or push them away, your feelings are real, and feeling them is necessary for healing. The good news is, even intense feelings will pass if you simply allow yourself to feel them.
Reframe Your Identity
After experiencing a traumatic event, it is common to feel helpless and out of control. To fully recover from the event, it is important that you eventually reframe your identity and challenge your feelings of helplessness. You can do this by taking action. Being proactive – even in small ways – will help you overcome feelings of fear and helplessness.
Consider volunteering for a cause that’s important to you. If that is too much of a time commitment, you could simply focus on helping a friend or neighbor. This will help you feel more powerful and in control of your environment.
Reach Out to Others
It is common for people to want to withdraw from loved ones and social activities following a tragic event, but connecting with others is necessary for recovery. Though you may not feel up to taking part in huge gatherings like you once did, a simple face to face conversation with a close friend or relative can trigger hormones that relieve stress.
You needn’t talk about the event with your loved ones, just simply spending time with them will help you feel more “normal.” Of course, if you feel like you need to talk about your feelings, reach out to those you know love and support you. You may also want to look into support groups in your local area so you can be around others who know what you are going through.
And finally, you may want to consider seeking guidance from a professional therapist who is trained in helping people who have experienced a traumatic event. They can help you navigate your emotions as well as give you tools to get back on your feet.
If you have experienced a traumatic event and feel you could use some guidance on your journey back toward peace and joy, please get in touch with me. You don’t have to suffer with your burden alone.
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